WOLFEBORO N.H. - A scathing Wall Street Journal editorial this morning said the Romney campaign's - and now Romney's - comments on the Supreme Court health decision will be considered a "a turning point" if the presumptive GOP nominee loses to President Obama this fall.
The editorial says that the candidate's initial decision to "absolve President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class," delivered by his senior adviser, might lead to the former Massachusetts' governor's "second political defeat" and that a subsequent interview Wednesday left the campaign looking "confused in addition to being politically dumb."
Romney retreated from his adviser's comment and told CBS News Wednesday that the individual mandate is indeed a tax because that's what the Supreme Court decided.
"The dissent lost. It's in the minority. And so now the Supreme Court has spoken, and while I agreed with the dissent, that's taken over by the fact that a majority of the court said it's a tax, and therefore it's a tax. They have spoken," Romney said in the interview. "There's no way around that. You can try and say you wish they had decided a different way, but they didn't. They concluded it was a tax. That's what it is."
Romney's remarks on the tax contradicted those of his senior adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, who earlier this week had said that Romney "disagrees with the court's ruling that the mandate was a tax." The discrepancy lead the editorial to refer to the Romney campaign's reaction to the ruling as "lame jujitsu spin."
The "unforced error," the Journal writes, was a result of Romney's "fear of being labeled a flip-flopper."
"Mr. Romney favored the individual mandate as part of his reform in Massachusetts, and as we've said from the beginning of his candidacy his failure to admit that mistake makes him less able to carry the anti-ObamaCare case to voters," the editorial reads. "This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity. Mr. Obama is being hurt by an economic recovery that is weakening for the third time in three years. But Mr. Romney hasn't been able to take advantage, and if anything he is losing ground."
The editorial advises Romney that if his campaign does not respond to the Obama campaign's attacks on the candidate's offshore accounts and allegations that he was an "outsourcer" during his time at private equity firm Bain Capital, that they should be "fired for malpractice."
(So far, the Romney campaign's Amanda Henneberg has this to say when asked about the most recent Obama attacks: "President Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney have been proven false time and again. As job growth slows, manufacturing activity stalls, and our economy continues to sputter, President Obama knows he can't make a legitimate argument for another term in office, so instead he is trying to tear down his opponent. This is just the latest example of President Obama and his political machine saying or doing anything to distract from his abysmal record over the last four years.")
As for the Wall Street Journal, the editorial concludes, "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."
The biting editorial comes after a series of tweets from Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns the Wall Street Journal.
Murdoch tweeted last week, "Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful."
Shortly after he tweeted again, "Romney people upset at me! Of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc but should listen to good advice and get stuck in!"
The Romney campaign has yet to respond to today's editorial.