Friday, August 3, 2012

Defining Mitt Romney

The major campaign error of the Romney team is to allow the Democratic Party to define its candidate!
by Charlie Leck

“…hardly a positive ad has been run in July.”
                         [NY Times, Jeff Zeleny, 29 July 2012]

This kind of campaign is no fun – not even for those who enjoy observing politics in action. I’m sorry that the President’s political advisors have taken up the tactics of their opponents, but it appears they have no choice.

We’ve seen two years of negativism out of the Republican Party – two years of obstructionism – two years of willingly damaging the country in order to defeat the President.

This is the most horrible and distasteful politics I’ve ever seen. I simply didn’t believe that the GOP could sink so low that they would be willing to seriously damage the nation in order to bring the President down.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and Representative Michel Bachmann are the poster children for dysfunctional politics.

Exasperated, the Obama campaign organization has decided it must also attack; and it has now turned thoroughly ugly. The President, who ran on change and hope in 2008, now calls out Mitt Romney and wants to see proof that he has not played shenanigans with his taxes – that he has been ethical and forthright in his personal financial management.

This is a significant gamble for the President. Afterall, he consistently polls much higher than Romney as one who is “likeable.” Moving the nasty needle up, as Obama’s team is doing, may change the public’s perception of the President.

Yet, Obama may be caught in a trap here. Afterall, he has got to fight fire with fire – or so his team thinks.

Team Obama is trying – rushing – to define Mitt Romney before the Republicans can fully define their candidate: “…a secretive Bush era throwback whose wealth puts him out of touch with the middle class.”

One must remember that the President, in his ads, is answering more than just Mitt Romney’s ads and claims; he is also responding to the nearly 100 percent negative ads of the Super Pacs (a recent Washington Post poll shows the general public knows very little about Super Pac activity).

The sticky-wicket in which the Obama campaign may find itself comes down to preserving the President’s high degree of likeability while still being tough and willing to fight back against the harshly negative Romney ads.

My own feeling is that Obama should produce, at least, as many positive ads as those that cast Romney in a negative light. Right now Obama is running negative ads at a rate of two to one. Romney is running five negative ads to each one about his own character and talent – nearly 60,000 negative ads since April.

The Romney error may be a failure to define the Republican candidate, leaving that job to the Obama ads.

Who is Mitt Romney really?
That slightly less than grammatically correct question is the way voters ask it. Romney appears unwilling to lift the curtain on himself. He leaves the job to the Democratic campaign machine and this is a serious Romney error.

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