TPM's Live Wire caught this quote from Republican strategist Mike Murphy on Meet the Press this Sunday. Shorter Mike Murphy, please let Mitt Romney do well on Super Tuesday because Santorum and Gingrich are driving Mitt Romney off a cliff to the right.
I think it's too late and the damage is already done. There's no way Romney can walk back the comments he's made over the last year without looking like more of a ridiculous flip flopper than he does already. The late night comics are going to have a field day with him if he tries, thankfully, since we obviously won't be able to count on the likes of David Gregory to do it.
Republican strategist Mike Murphy said Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press that the primary is alienating independent voters and that the establishment is eager to pick a nominee and move on to the general election.
After Virginia, Murphy predicted, Romney will "be in a pretty commanding place in the nomination. And on behalf of the Republican establishment, it's about damn time. We want this thing to get over, because we see those independent voters eroding as we scare the hell out of them with the histrionics of our primary."
Full transcript below the fold.
GREGORY: Let me throw some things on the table based on my own reporting this week on some of the keys for Romney, both on the math but also on the narrative. I'll put it up on the screen. The economy, I've noticed him focusing on the economy, selling himself as a fiscal conservative, not a cultural conservative. He's clearly concerned about erosion of support among independents, he wants to distance himself from the extremes.
He still has been error-prone on the campaign trail. But he--this is really a test here, Mike Murphy, of whether he can build on the success of Michigan and Arizona. That's something he has not done yet fter a couple of big victories; that's the opportunity Tuesday.
MURPHY: Well, Michigan gave him the big microphone, so he can do himself some good. That Washington state win I think was indicative because he was way behind there. He is definitely moving up, now a tied race in Ohio. And the question is how does he use this moment? Now this thing is always about two things, the delegate math, where he's doing very well, and the narrative of winning and losing. So what I'm looking for is, of course, Ohio, but also Tennessee because otherwise the narrative will be that Romney cannot win in the South and we have more Southern states coming.
But if he can win Ohio--he's won Florida--those are the two biggest states in the, in the general election, swing states, and he wins Tennessee, which I think he can do, that'll be, I think, maybe the big surprise, and maybe pick up some suburban support even in Newt Gingrich's Georgia. He'll win Virginia for free, that's the Brezhnev primary, you know, vote for anybody you want, there's only two on the ballot, Romney and Paul. Then I think he'll be in a pretty commanding place for the nomination.
And on behalf of the Republican establishment, it's about damn time because we want this thing to get over because we see those independent voters eroding as we scare the hell out of them with the histrionics of our primary.