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The First Unmistakable Sign of Panic from the Romney Campaign

Before yesterday, I had assumed that the Romney campaign was perhaps mildly spooked by President Obama’s post-convention polling bounce, but nonetheless confident that the bounce would recede and that the race would return to the status quo ante September.

Now: not so much.

The Romney campaign’s reaction to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya was, as Daniel Larison says, “hasty and stupid.”

I think Daniel is being charitable.

Think of it: On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a day in which both campaigns have agreed to a political cease-fire on television, several U.S. foreign service workers are murdered by an angry mob. “Apparently unaware of the timing of the first embassy statement,” as the Times puts it, the Romney campaign crudely parlays the facts of the attacks — angry Muslims kill Americans — into a broader narrative about Obama’s supposed weakness on terrorism and “sympathy” for America’s enemies.

That’s more than hasty and stupid; that’s unconscionable.

NBC News’s Chuck Todd and co. put it this way this morning:

This was news-cycle campaigning by the Romney campaign gone awry. Why didn’t the Romney campaign wait until it had all the facts? On his overseas trip in the summer, Romney was so careful not to criticize Obama while on foreign soil. But how much time do you give an administration to work through a diplomatic and international crisis before trying to score immediate political points? You’d expect the Sarah Palins of the world to quickly pounce on something like this, and she predictably did. But a presidential nominee running for the highest office in the land? After the facts have come out, last night’s Romney statement only feeds the narrative that his campaign is desperate.

Before yesterday, the idea that the Romney campaign was “desperate” would have struck me as myopic and overexcited.

Now it seems unmistakably clear.

The Romney campaign knows it’s losing.

about the author

Scott Galupo is a freelance writer living in Arlington, Va. In addition to contributing to The American Conservative, he writes for TheWeek.com and reviews live music for The Washington Post. He was formerly a staff writer for The Washington Times and worked on Capitol Hill. He lives with his wife and two children and writes about politics to support his guitar habit.

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