“Call it the Mittness Protection Program.

“Through the hot summer of 2011, the front-runner for the Republican nomination has been in hiding

“‘There’s a difference between not chasing every ball, and not getting in the arena,’ said a spokesman for one rival, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. ‘In the ongoing battle of ideas for the future of America, Mitt Romney is a spectator with a record of cheering for both sides.'”

“This is not an absurd strategy. One of the advantages, after all, of running for president as an ‘unemployed’ person (as opposed to running as an incumbent), is the ability to avoid controversial stands. Why get down in the weeds if you can remain above the fray?

“The trouble is that Romney’s campaign does not exist in a vacuum. His opponents, many of whom have taken stands on the issue, are working feverishly to attribute his front porch campaign style to a lack of political courage. And their attacks may eventually resonate. Given the tea party zeitgeist, one wonders whether it’s possible to win the GOP nomination by avoiding the most contentious debates of the day.”

“There is a binary choice right now. We know what Romney says he’d do a president, but as a leader in his party is he urging Congress to vote no and send the nation into default? He won’t say. He signed the Cut, Cap and Balance pledge but now that that approach is simply not possible, does he agree with the half-a-loaf philosophy of many Republicans in Congress or the burn-down-the-building hold-outs? We don’t know. He says he appreciates the spot Congress is in, but what would he have its members do?

“Romney, for some Republicans, is the most mature and viable contender to go up against President Obama. But he makes himself unpalatable to the base and to even more moderate voters by playing it too cute by half. In other words, he leaves open a spot in the race for a bold, reasoned and constructive Republican reformer.”

“But in perhaps the best sign yet that he’s trained his sights solely on Romney, Huntsman absolved such figures as Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) for voting altogether against any debt-ceiling deal. They, at least, had made their position known, Huntsman said.

“‘I applaud them on taking on a position early on,’ he explained, noting his disagreement with them nonetheless. ‘I think that is commendable.’

“As for Romney, Huntsman said the silence was ‘telling.’

“‘He certainly is one who waited right until the very end, until, effectively, a decision had been made,’ he said. ‘This is a significant issue before our country … the thought that a candidate for the presidency of the United States wouldn’t be willing to stand up during a time when leadership is needed like never before and to embrace or put forward a solution to get us to where we need to be, I think, is very telling.'”

“Doggone it, I want these candidates who are in there — I want them to not be sitting back. And bless his heart, I have respect for Mitt Romney but I do not have respect for what he has done through this debt increase debate. He did this: He waited until it was a done deal that we would increase the debt ceiling and more money would be spent, more money borrowed and then spent on bigger government. And then he came out and he made a statement that ‘oh, he didn’t like the deal after all.’ You know, you can’t defer an issue and assume that the problem is going to be, then, avoided… You need to get out there and you need to tell the electorate what you really feel about these issues.”

Via Palin TV.