A nice illustration of the problem the GOP has in its likely nominee is Politico's story reporting that Mitt Romney flip-flopped within a 24-hour period about whether he was going to win the Iowa caucuses. It sounds like a bad joke, I know. But yesterday afternoon, according to the Des Moines Register, Romney told a crowd (click here for the video):
You guys, I need you tomorrow night. I need every single vote in this room, and I need you to get a couple of other votes in your neighborhood, get them to caucus. I need a great showing here in Cedar Rapids. We’re going to win this thing with all our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation, and to pick up the states and to get the ballots I need and the votes I need to become our nominee.
This was originally mis-reported as "We're going to win this state," according to Politico, which calls that "a distinction that comes with a difference." But I don't see much difference. From the context it's clear that Romney was giving a little St. Crispin's Day-style rouser about winning the state. If he were talking about winning the nomination or the general he wouldn't then have gone on to talk about picking up more states and getting "the votes I need to become our nominee." And he wouldn't have said it right after saying he needs "every single vote in this room" and "a great showing here in Cedar Rapids." And, oh yeah, he wouldn't have said it the night before the Iowa caucuses.
But obviously Romney's aides had conniptions over him "predicting" he was going to win Iowa (even though there's an excellent chance he will) because that might set him up for an expectations-game defeat should he lose to Rick Santorum or Ron Paul, as is possible. So in true Romney fashion, he walked it back this morning on NBC's Today show. "I'm not predicting a win," he said. "Maybe I get 20 percent, someone else gets 25 percent." It was like watching Henry V revise his comments before Battle of Agincourt: "Gentlemen in England now a-bed/ Shall think themselves accursed they were not here/ Or maybe not, it's really hard to say."