Weigel

Netroots Nation: The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Mitt Himself

MINNEAPOLIS – One pattern I’m noticing at this conference is a total lack of fear and angst about most of the GOP’s presidential candidates. How to determine this? The 2012ers don’t really come up in conversation, and when they do, they’re punchlines. Herman Cain is the most frequent target, followed by Bachmann – and I might be spotting Cain a few points because Bachmann’s from here.

“Are you guys worried about the Republican candidates?” asked comedian Elon Green at last night’s plenary.

There was a loud, mocking chorus of “nooos.”

“I’m worried!” he said. But it was the lead-in to another joke.

The only strategic discussion I hear about the GOP candidates – the only stuff about how to defeat one of them – concerns Mitt Romney. At a half-jokey, half-newsy morning session hosted by the comedian Lizz Winstead, pundits from ThinkProgress and the Huffington Post were looked to for facts about Romney’s job creation record. Romney’s minor gaffe yesterday – he called himself “unemployed, too” – was looked to as a way to attack him. All of that focus makes sense, because Romney’s the only candidate of the moment trying to run a non-ideological campaign based on complaints about joblessness.