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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney tries to ride out Mourdock controversy in silence

Greg Sargent:

Mitt Romney is under increasing pressure today to further distance himself from Richard Mourdock after the Indiana GOP Senate candidate’s remarks about rape and God created a national firestorm. Yet according to various reports, the Romney camp has gone silent on the matter, and there are no public indications that this is going to change.

Democrats have succeeded into turning Mourdock’s comments into a second day national media story. This morning, Obama subtly tied Romney to Mourdock, saying: “As we saw again this week, I don’t think any politician in Washington, most of whom are male, should be making health care decisions for women.” Reporters hit Romney with another round of questions about Mourdock today, but according to CNN, Romney refused to answer them. As Jed Lewison puts it, Romney has “entered a virtual cocoon of silence.”

Meanwhile, even Republican Jon Huntsman (admittedly a Romney rival) implicitly criticized Romney’s handling of the mess, claiming: “I would have simply said, `I’m withdrawing my support.’”

Why the Romney reticence? What’s the downside for Romney in cutting Mourdock loose, particularly given how intense the battle for the female vote has become?

Sargent turns to the New York Times’ Michael Cooper for the answer to that and the short version is that Romney needs evangelical nutjobs to turn out in swing states more than he needs women.

Still, what a day to try to ride out a controversy. It’s dead, dead, dead out there and the press is hungry for some news. Mourdock really is the only thing going. Now would be an excellent time for Democrats (and — hint, hint — people on social media) to pressure Romney to either drop Mourdock or explain why he’s not dropping him.

The media would love to see someone on the spot right now and they don’t much care who that someone is. There’s airtime to fill and column inches to print.

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