Romney’s confusing pronouncements weren’t limited to taxation. He also said he would keep parts of Obamacare in place. His team later walked that back a bit (just as they did when Romney’s naming of former Gov. Mike Leavitt — whose consulting firm helps states comply with Obamacare — as head of his transition operation, created a controversy.) But the damage was done.
Republicans who care only about winning might not have a problem with this Dick Morris-style campaign strategy — in which you “hug” your opponent on the popular things — and draw a sharp contrast with him on the areas in which he is unpopular. But the possible long-term damage to the already-weakened Republican brand could be incalculable. As I warned a month ago: “What if Romney wins and does not extirpate Obamacare? What if he tweaks it, making it more palatable and efficient (and thus giving national health care Republican imprimatur)? This is not an absurd possibility. After all, he was the architect of RomneyCare.”