Certainly Obama took a political risk today, but Noam Scheiber succinctly sums up the bind this puts Romney in.
Now, a politician with more credibility among conservatives might be willing to take the hit to preserve his general-election prospects. Perhaps more importantly, such a person would get less heat from the right in the first place. But conservative cred is something that Romney distinctly lacks. It’s the reason he had to take a hard-line stance on immigration during the primaries, and to throw his arms around Paul Ryan. I’d guess it’s the reason he didn’t dissociate himself from a supporter intent on indicting the president for treason this week.
If George W. Bush were the GOP nominee, the response would be a no brainer: Continue to toe the party line when necessary but otherwise pretend the issue doesn’t exist. But Romney has no such luxury. Trying to minimize it will send barely-repressed conservative suspicions spewing forth like a geyser, while using gay marriage to shore up his bona fides will play pretty badly this fall. It’s a helluva dilemma. Kind of makes the president’s position look like a bit of a yawner.
I tend to agree with this. This is a minefield for Romney. Obama has taken a big stand and Americans tend to respond positively to strong statements of leadership. Romney can’t follow Obama but he really can’t unleash the hate either or he’ll lose the moderates. I think it’s a hell of a political calculation for Obama. And kudos to Biden for shoving him on it.
But a man like Willard Romney with such strong unmovable principles, I’m sure he’ll figure it out!