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« Long-Term Negatives For MoveOn? | Blog Home Page | Romney Wins Mackinac Poll »

Romney's "Open Letter"

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is trying everything he can to separate himself from the field. His "open letter" to his own party, which will run Sunday in the New Hampshire Union Leader and in Roll Call on Monday as full-page ads, takes the GOP to task using some of the same themes as in a recent ad he launched in early primary states.

"The blame, we must admit, does not belong to just one party. If we're going to change Washington, Republicans have to put our own house in order." Using the same lines he does in the television spot, Romney continues: "We can't be like Democrats -- a party of big spending. We can't pretend our borders are secure from illegal immigration. We can't have ethical standards that are a punch-line for Jay Leno."

The goal of the letter: Distance himself from President Bush as publicly as possible while saying what many Republicans privately believe. Still, when 73% of Republicans approve of President Bush's job performance, according to the latest CBS Poll [PDF], it's a dangerous ploy.

One thing is certain: American voters are not happy with Washington. Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who stayed home, or abandoned the GOP altogether at the polls in 2006, need to hear something like contrition before they come home. The lack of a candidate Republicans believe can move them out of the doghouse is a big reason just 19% say they're satisfied with the GOP candidates, according to the latest CNN poll [PDF].

If Romney, or Fred Thompson, or Rudy Giuliani for that matter, can convince Republican primary voters that they're the candidate to move the party forward, they'll find themselves facing the Democratic nominee next year. In fact, with opinions about the Republican Party running so low among independents, a candidate seen as willing and able to change the party's direction is just the start Republicans need heading into 2008.