New York Times campaign reporter Michael Barbaro jumped on the hidden Mitt video in a"Caucus" post Tuesday night, eagerly dramatizing "A Mood of Gloom Afflicts the Romney Campaign."
Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary walked to the back of the candidate’s plane midflight on Tuesday and teasingly asked a pair of journalists in an exit row if they were “willing and able to assist in case of an emergency.”
Under the circumstances, it was hard to tell whether it was a question or a request.
A palpably gloomy and openly frustrated mood has begun to creep into Mr. Romney’s campaign for president. Well practiced in the art of lurching from public relations crisis to public relations crisis, his team seemed to reach its limit as it digested a ubiquitous set of video clips that showed their boss candidly describing nearly half of the country’s population as government-dependent “victims,” and saying that he would “kick the ball down the road” on the biggest foreign policy challenge of the past few decades, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Grim-faced aides acknowledged that it was an unusually dark moment, made worse by the self-inflicted, seemingly avoidable nature of the wound. In low-volume, out-of-the-way conversations, a few of them are now wondering whether victory is still possible and whether they are entering McCain-Palin ticket territory.
It may prove a fleeting anxiety: national polls show the race remains close, even though Mr. Romney trails in some key swing states.
Indeed, the most recent Gallup poll shows Obama's post-convention "bounce" has faded, with his seven-point lead down to one.
Mr. Romney and his advisers quickly grasped the severity of the video. A decision was made: Mr. Romney must go in front of cameras immediately to explain himself, lest questions about the video linger and overshadow two full days of his campaign at a crucial stage in the general election.
By Tuesday afternoon, the campaign seemed to find its footing. Aides inside Mr. Romney’s Boston headquarters began highlighting a video of their own: a 1998 clip showing Barack Obama, then a state senator, saying that he wanted the government to facilitate the distribution of wealth. “I actually believe in redistribution,” Mr. Obama said on the tape.
Barbaro's Wednesday morning followup post provided the tick-tock on how the campaign dealt with Romney's "embarrassing remarks": "How the Romney Campaign Scrambled to Respond to Secret Video."
Around 4 p.m. here on Monday, an aide to Mitt Romney, Garrett Jackson, showed the candidate a grainy video that had been circulating online all afternoon.
It was not pleasant viewing.
On a day freighted with symbolism and expectancy, the 50th until the election, Mr. Romney quietly watched himself deliver words at a fund-raiser -- about the “47 percent,” “victims” and “dependents” -- that would cast a new cloud over his campaign.
The location was less than ideal. Aides had commandeered a small ballroom at a fund-raiser to have Mr. Romney discuss embarrassing remarks he had made at, well, a previous fund-raiser.
Kevin Madden, Mr. Romney’s spokesman, peeked his head out from behind a black curtain, looking somewhat nervous. Around 10 p.m. Eastern time, Mr. Romney walked out, delivered his statement and took three questions.