NPR logo Mitt Romney, Reflecting Conservative Pushback, Opposes Debt-Ceiling Deal

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney, Reflecting Conservative Pushback, Opposes Debt-Ceiling Deal

Mitt Romney. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
John Moore/Getty Images

Mitt Romney.

John Moore/Getty Images

Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is publicly opposing the debt-ceiling deal:

"As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced – not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table. President Obama's leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute. While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama's lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal."

As his statement implies, Romney is on record saying he backed the "Cut, Cap and Balance" legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House which died in the Democratic controlled-Senate.

Rep. Michele Bachmann opposed CCB saying she didn't believe it cut spending nearly enough, even though the bill had wide support in conservative circles.

Romney's stance, then, on CCB is designed to keep him on the same page as those conservatives. It's also meant to keep any of his competitors for the nomination from outflanking him on his right.

As is his opposition to the debt-ceiling deal which since its unveiling Sunday evening has drawn much conservative criticism for not cutting more. Romney's statement is aiming for the sweet spot of that discontent. It's meant to keep any of his competitors, especially Bachmann, from outflanking him on the ideological right.

Also, if you're Romney and looking to reduce doubts about you because of, say the health insurance individual mandate you signed into law in Massachusetts, you can burnish your conservative credentials in an important early primary state like South Carolina by opposing the debt-ceiling deal.

It also keeps you on the right side of the state's two Republican U.S. senators — Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, the latter being a major presence in the national Tea Party movement.

The DNC tried to take advantage of the moment by emailing a post by Joe Klein on Time's Swampland blog in which he writes:

This graceless kow-tow to the Tea Party makes sense politically. But it is a lie. His "plan" could never have passed.

But in a presidential primary campaign, as Klein knows better than most, it's all about what "makes sense politically," little more.

And, for Romney and his strategists have obviously decided that his opposition to the debt-ceiling deal gets them where they want to go.