Mitt Romney sat down with Larry Kudlow for a quick interview while out on the Ohio campaign trail and appeared to openly criticize his two chief rivals for the nomination, and perhaps send a message to the GOP base that they don’t really want to hear right now:
KUDLOW: All right. And… I’m not going to light my hair on fire.’ That’s you. I don’t have it up here. But you say, `I’m not going to light my hair on fire.’ Was that your way of saying that the economic issues have to be preeminent relative to the social issues? Was that your message?
Gov. ROMNEY: Well, my message is I’m not going to say outrageous things about the president or about my opponents. It gets headlines and a lot of excitement, and it gets you, by the way, a number of days in the polls to get a nice little bump. But I’m going to talk about the real issues Americans face and talk with respect about people who have differing views. I’m not going to attack them personally. I mean, I know that’s fun, but it’s just not productive. And we need, as a nation, to come together to recognize that even though we have differing views about the country and about where we should go, we all love the country. And I recognize that among Democrats and among Republicans. I want to lead the country. I don’t want to castigate half of Americans. I want to bring us together and finally get the job done of having a stronger economy with a–with a government that’s been kept in the—in the–into the box it ought to be kept into..
There are two observations that one can make here.
The first is that Romney sounds in this interview, or at least this excerpt, like a General Election candidate. Not only putting behind the strong rhetoric about the President that we’ve heard from candidates like Santorum and Gingrich, but also hitting only that good old political standby, unity. It’s right there in the lines “I don’t want to castigate half of Americans. I want to bring us together……” Once you start hearing a Presidential candidate talk like this, it usually means that their campaign has made the determination that it’s time to shift focus to November, tone down the partisanship just a bit, and talk about how you want unite the country. Every eventual nominee does it at some point, and the fact that Romney is doing it now should be taken as an indication of the confidence inside his campaign.
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