Mitt Romney's Hard Right Move?

On Thursday, reporter Michael Luo (who recently wondered why Christian conservatives thought the Times had a liberal bias) fretted whether or not Republican candidate Mitt Romney had "jerked the wheel too hard to the right" to appeal to primary voters in "As Voting Nears, Romney Shifts Political Narrative."

The opening paragraph of Luo's story from Goffstown, N.H. came off a little snotty:

"Mitt Romney was recounting to his audience here a political fable of sorts, about how he had never expected to get into politics after spending his life in business. The moral is one he has been telling again and again in his final sprint before the first votes of the 2008 presidential campaign are cast."

Luo painted a picture of a campaign struggling for consistent themes:

"To combat attacks from the right, Mr. Romney introduced a message in May centered on what he called the 'three legs of the conservative stool' - meant to unite social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives behind him - and spent much of the summer leading into the Iowa Straw Poll expounding on the idea, bringing up his private sector experience only in passing. He also presented a much harder line on immigration as the issue leapt to the forefront of the Republican race and swooped on the issue of same-sex marriage in August when a judge in Iowa ruled unconstitutional the state's ban on the practice.

"The question at this point is whether Mr. Romney jerked the wheel too hard to the right as he now tries to pick up a broader cross-section of voters. In September, the Romney campaign rolled out a new theme of Mr. Romney as a leader capable of bringing change to Washington. But it is a message that the Romney camp has found difficult to stick to amid the daily fluctuations of the campaign.

"'It has been hard to get to the essential, the core,' said Alex Gage, the campaign's strategy director.

"Now Mr. Romney is trying to get down to it before he runs out of time."