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Goaded by his rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has finally staked out his position on the controversial deal to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the GOP frontrunner opposes the plan and places the blame for the “crisis” squarely on the shoulders of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Color us stunned …

“As president, my plan would have produced a budget that was cut, capped and balanced – not one that opens the door to higher taxes and puts defense cuts on the table,” Romney said on Monday. “President Obama’s leadership failure has pushed the economy to the brink at the eleventh hour and 59th minute. While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”

Translation?

After “pulling an Obama” and refusing to offer his own proposal for resolving the dispute, Romney is now blaming the president for a failure of leadership. Meanwhile, he’s telling Republican members of Congress that if they feel the need to sell out again by supporting this plan (like they did during the “shutdown” debate), well … that’s fine by him.

Sheesh … and this is the GOP standard-bearer?

Of course Romney’s own “failure to lead” during the debt debate was shared by the vast majority of the GOP field – which for the most part avoided the issue like the plague.

We credit U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) for sticking to their stated position of opposing any debt increase, while we credit Jon Huntsman for at least articulating a position (even if it was to support the weak ass compromise offered by House Speaker John Boehner).

But Romney? Rick Perry? Tim Pawlenty? Sarah Palin? Where were their voices on this issue? Why weren’t they offering specific ideas or using the power of their respective pulpits to force the issue?

Yeah … no wonder people are so underwhelmed by this group of candidates …

Look, it’s painfully clear Obama failed to lead on the debt crisis, but it’s equally clear that the crop of Republicans vying to replace him did, too.

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