Have Mitt Romney's remarks damaged his campaign?

Mitt Romney defended his comments, saying needs to 'focus' his campaign. Photo: Reuters

Is it possible to feel sorry for a man worth a quarter of a billion dollars who has achieved almost everything he has ever dreamed of?

In the case of Mitt Romney it depends on your politics.

Mitt has endured the worst week in Presidential campaigns any of us can remember. Some are gleeful, others despairing.

What went wrong?

First, he badly misjudged the events in Libya that resulted in the death of the American ambassador. Romney prematurely attacked the White House without waiting to understand what had happened on the ground. He ended up looking petty and partisan as the nation was grieving for the fallen diplomats.

Secondly, he endured reports of acrimony within the campaign, while everyone recognised the problem was the candidate and not his advisers.

Thirdly - and certainly the most damaging - is the video secretly filmed at a private fund-raising dinner in Florida. Romney patiently explains to the wealthy guests that nearly half of Americans don't pay income tax, are dependent on the governments and see themselves as victims. Ouch.

These are devastating comments precisely because they feed the Obama campaign narrative that Mitt Romney is a vastly wealthy venture-capitalist who has no feel for the lives of "real" Americans.

Romney is the gift that keeps on the Democrats. The White House cannot believe its luck to be waging a campaign against a gaffe-prone, inept, and awkward candidate who many conservatives instinctively distrust in the best of times.

So imagine what they're saying now, in the worst of times.

Is the race over? Has President Obama secured re-election with 49 days still left in the campaign?

Not quite. There could be an "October surprise," the fabled out-of-nowhere event that shakes up all Presidential elections.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in TV attacks ads are about to be launched that could help Romney. And the Republican candidate could surprise everyone with stunningly strong performances in the three Presidential debates.

But all those sound implausible.

More likely, Romney stumbles on. Exasperated Republicans stay at home on election day. Obama romps home to a second term.

We can guess what Obama is telling his strategists: No complacency. No let-up. Let's fight every day for every vote. And thank the Lord for giving us Mitt as our opponent.

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