September 19, 2012 -- Analysis: This is easily the worst one-week period Mitt Romney's campaign has experienced so far in the general election.
The leaked hidden-camera videos of Romney at a private fundraiser in May have launched a thousand complaints -- from liberals seeking to exploit the Republican candidate's comments to conservatives worried about whether the Romney campaign can weather this storm.
In the Wall Street Journal, columnist Peggy Noonan put it bluntly: "Time for an Intervention.""It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change," Noonan wrote, along with a laundry list of advice for the GOP candidate and his campaign.
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"He should stick to speeches, and they have to be big -- where America is now, what we must do, how we can do it" Noonan wrote and "Wake this election up. Wade into the crowd, wade into the fray, hold a hell of a rally in an American city -- don't they count anymore?" and "Romney should go out there every day surrounded with the most persuasive, interesting and articulate members of his party..."
But instead, this week, Romney has zigzagged around the country, mostly doing fundraisers, and keeping one of his lightest schedules of public events in recent memory. His most extensive comments yesterday were to Fox News' Neil Cavuto and they weren't about his campaign message, they were about the fallout from the secret video recordings.
New numbers in the battleground states aren't helping either.
Obama leads Romney in three of the most important ones -- Virginia (50 percent to 46 percent) Wisconsin (51 percent to 45 percent) and by the thinnest margin in Colorado (48 percent to 47 percent), according to the results of a new Quinnipiac University-CBS News-New York Times survey out today.
To be sure, we can't just use one poll as our guide. The latest Pollster.com average as well as a fresh Associated Press-GfK poll shows that Obama convention bounce fading with the president and Romney statistically tied, 47 percent for Obama compared to 46 percent for Romney, nationally.
But the question now for the GOP is as much psychological as anything. Do Republicans believe they can still win?
The New York Times notes today that "a palpably gloomy and openly frustrated mood has begun to creep into Mr. Romney's campaign for president. Well practiced in the art of lurching from public relations crisis to public relations crisis, his team seemed to reach its limit" as the stream of video clips released by Mother Jones played out in real time.