There are times when you can just see the wheels turning in Mitt Romney's head, as he cycles through the possible responses to a question, realizes there really is no good one, then spits out something that sounds like the least bad answer possible. It's almost sad. That frenzy of mental activity is what produces things like this bit of hilarity, after Romney got questioned about the story of a rich Republican thinking of running an ad campaign attacking President Obama with Jeremiah Wright:
"I repudiate that effort," Mr. Romney told reporters at an impromptu news conference Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla. "I think it's the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign." At the same time, Mr. Romney stood by remarks made in February on Sean Hannity's radio show that Mr. Obama wanted to make America "a less Christian nation."
"I'm not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was," Mr. Romney said.
Oh, Mitt. You see, this is what happens when you're obsessed with proving that you aren't a flip-flopper. The alternative—possibly saying something different than you said before, and running the risk of being criticized for a change of heart (or words) is so frightening that he says that. I wonder if after "I stand by what I said, whatever it was" came out of his mouth, Mitt cringed inwardly and said, "Oh, that's not good."
Maybe there really was no good answer. If he said, "Well, it sounds like I might have gone a bit far there," that would have invited more uncomfortable questions, and if he said, "I'm interested in moving the campaign forward, it would have looked like he was dodging the question, which he would have been. But this reminded me of the CNN debate back in February when the Republican candidates were asked to give one word to describe themselves. Instead of giving the appropriate answer ("That's an idiotic question and I refuse to answer it"), Ron Paul went with "consistent," Newt Gingrich weirdly chose "cheerful," and Rick Santorum picked "courage." Romney, acting like some kind of parody of a candidate, said "resolute." Which of course made him look all the more fearful. But at least today, you can be sure that no matter the winding road he has traveled to arrive at the place he is today, Mitt Romney believes what he believes and stands by what he says. Whatever it is.