“With friends like these,” Mitt Romney must be thinking, “who needs enemies?”
But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been taking flak from some prominent sources among his normally supportive fellow conservatives.
On “Fox News Sunday,” it was Weekly Standard editor William Kristol. He said Mr. Romney needs to do more than just cite the nation’s economic woes as reason enough to oust President Obama. He needs to articulate a plan, Mr. Kristol said, not only on the economy but on other key issues including health care.
It worries him, he said, that Mr. Obama is “holding his own” in polls despite three months of disappointing jobs figures. More to the point, Kristol pointed out, only 27 percent of those polled by Fox News think Romney has a clear plan for improving the economy.
“I don't think you can beat an incumbent president even if the economy’s slow if 27 percent of the voters think you as the challenger don't have a clear plan for improving the economy,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Kristol was more explicit in his Weekly Standard blog.
“Voters want to hear what Romney is going to do about the economy,” he wrote. “He can ‘speak about’ how bad the economy is all he wants – though Americans are already well aware of the economy's problems – but doesn't the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank?”
Kristol isn’t the only one poking Romney.
The headline on a piece by Forbes columnist John Tamny (which was mainly critical of Obama) reads “It's Time For Mitt Romney And His Economic Team To Grow Up.”
"When is Romney going to look like a challenger? Seems to play everything safe,” conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch recently tweeted. Obama “will be hard to beat unless [Romney] drops old friends from team and hires some real pros.”
Former General Electric chief executive officer Jack Welch concurred, tweeting, “Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice..playing in league with Chicago pols..No room for amateurs.”
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham wondered why Romney was taking time off for a vacation when “we have a country to save,” suggesting that he should “get out there on the trail and get off the jet ski.”
In its response to the question of whether the health care mandate penalty is a “tax” on those who chose not to have health care insurance, The Wall Street Journal charged, “the [Romney] campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb.”
In a tough editorial that startled many observers, The Wall Street Journal echoed the criticism of Kristol and other conservatives that Romney needs to get more specific about how he’d be a better president than Obama.
“The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that ‘Obama isn't working.’ Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better.”
“Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is assailing Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch rich man, and the rich man obliged by vacationing this week at his lake-side home with a jet-ski cameo,” the editorial continued. “Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat. So far Mr. Romney is letting them down.”