First, I just thought it was the Globe being nasty to the local guy with their headline about his new ad just outright saying he was "faltering." Now it really seems Mitt Romney's national star may be dimming a bit at just the wrong time.
The Hotline, the most respected of all the insider must-reads, dropped Mitt in its unofficial White House 2008 rankings.
They wrote this:
"Romney's campaign kick-off was overstaged and underwhelming. Somewhere beneath the cant, the real Mitt Romney is struggling to get out. Also, the decision to go on the air this early may be a mistake because now, instead of peaking in the fall, he needs to start moving up in the polls before the summer, or else the media will go into a "what's wrong?" frenzy much earlier than deserved."
I'm not sure I totally agree that going on the air early is a bad move. Yes, it's true the media will wonder aloud if he doesn't start moving in the polls now but the great truth about ads is that, in a vacuum, they almost always work. Obviously, in a national campaign and, particularly in these early primary/caucus states, Mitt is going to have to do a lot more than just be on the air. In fact, in Iowa and New Hampshire, it'll be much more important to be on the ground.
But now it's all about name rec and John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have it, Mitt doesn't ... yet. My assumption with the man from Belmont is he's got money to burn. So what better cause right now? And, by the way, the ad is good - watch it here.
I stand by my "don't underestimate this guy" mantra about Team Mitt. The thing I would worry about if I was in the North End HQ is the subtle Romney-fatigue creeping into press stories. The problem with this campaign starting so early is that the press is already looking for the second and third acts and we're not even in March. When the silly Obama/Hillary infighting passes, they'll wonder why the Republicans aren't doing the same.
And don't forget, the press always wants a two-person race - three is just too many when you have active races on both sides. So watch out Mitt and keep an eye on that second chair because, eventually, the music's gonna stop. This year, it might stop earlier than anybody expects.