Tom Kludt notices that Ed Gillespie, one of Romney’s top surrogates, doesn’t know his own candidate’s talking points on Russia:
Well, I think what it is, Chuck, is to try to work with them to align our interests more, and to reduce their hostility, which this president has not been able to do [bold mine-DL]. Clearly, despite his pledges during the campaign and afterward that we were going to have this great relationship and Russia was going to be better with Russia. It is not better with Russia today than it was when President Obama took office.
Gillespie doesn’t seem to know that his candidate is campaigning on a pledge to undo the “reset” because he believes (falsely) it has been too favorable to Russia, and he must not know that an article appearing under Romney’s name made a point of stressing how generally pleased Moscow was with Obama’s Russia policy. The Romney campaign thinks this is a liability for Obama, and it was trying to change the subject from the mockery Romney was receiving after he labeled Russia “our number one geopolitical foe.”
The funny thing here is that Gillespie must think he is doing Romney a favor by talking up how Romney will reduce Russian “hostility.” Perhaps someone failed to remind Gillespie that his candidate wants to antagonize Russia at every turn. Instead of helping his candidate, Gillespie has completely undermined Romney’s criticism of Obama on Russia. Romney has never claimed any interest in aligning U.S. and Russian relations. He claims that the effort to do so over the last three years has been misguided, and he seems to think that finding common interests isn’t possible. He isn’t concerned to reduce Russian hostility. Everything he has said about Russia seems designed to stoke it.
What makes Gillespie’s comments so bizarre is that U.S.-Russian relations have demonstrably improved over the last three years. They have been relatively cooler and rockier in the last year because of disagreements over missile defense, the conduct of the Libyan war, and over how to respond to the conflict in Syria, but they are still far better than they were in late 2008 and early 2009. Even though Chuck Todd seems clueless on this point, the improvement in relations is not really in dispute. Gillespie has forgotten that Romney doesn’t want U.S.-Russian relations improved, and he has consistently opposed the attempt to improve them. The idea that Romney could preside over an even better U.S.-Russian relationship with his relentlessly anti-Russian posturing is not remotely credible. Gillespie’s interview is a remarkable breach of the Romney campaign’s normal discipline and its ability to stay on message.