Former President Bill Clinton says he doubts Mitt Romney will be able to shift his views toward the center to win the support of swing voters while holding on to the Republican base in the general election.
Clinton told ABC in an interview released Monday that the likely Republican nominee faces the challenge of wooing voters already wary of his flip-flopping on issues.
“He started this campaign in the aftermath of that tea party victory in 2010, when all the people on the far right of the Republican Party actually believed a majority of the voters had embraced the specific things they were saying," Clinton said.
"So it created a horrible dilemma for Romney. And the poor man got in trouble for the Etch A Sketch remark. That’s like the saying, ‘There is nothing more damaging in politics than telling the truth.’ I mean, the truth is, that’s what he’s got to do.’”
Clinton was referring to remarks from Romney senior aide Eric Fehrnstrom last month in which he said Romney would reset his campaign for the general election just like an Etch A Sketch, moving away from his strictly conservative agenda.
Political opponents pointed to the remarks as further proof of Romney’s political opportunism, The Hill observed.
Clinton said Romney must “convince the swing voters that he’ll be moderate enough and open enough and inclusive enough to be an effective president, and hope that the Republican base voters say, ‘Well, okay, so he maybe wasn’t as right-wing as he claimed to be in the primary, but he’s still more conservative than President Obama. I guess I’ll vote for him anyway, and I won’t stay home.’
“I doubt if he can do it.”
Clinton also told ABC that he actually had an easier time in 1992 than Romney does now, because Clinton faced challenges only about his character, while Romney must answer questions about his flip-flopping on issues.
“I named Al Gore. We introduced our economic plan. Then we introduced ourselves to the American people,” Clinton said.
“But we never had to change what we were saying from primary to the general.”
The problem Romney faces, Clinton added, is that voters “don’t really know what he believes.”
Romney’s prospects in the November election also appear grim based on the results of a new USA Today/Gallup Poll showing President Obama leading Romney by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent among registered voters in 12 battleground states.
Last month, Obama trailed Romney by two points.
Even more ominous for Romney, Obama leads Romney by a whopping 18 percentage points among women voters in the 12 states, which include Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
And among women under age 50, Obama leads widens further, beating Romney by a 2-to-1 margin, 60 to 30 percent.
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