Important news from Charles Barkley: Romney's going down hard in November

Sad. He used to be a Republican but then the party moved right and now he’s mostly known for dumping on it. He’s basically David Frum but with many, many more rebounds.

But is he right?

In a series of interviews with campaign officials in Chicago, it is clear that the entire re-elect operation likes its odds of winning a second term. The informal slogan is essentially “Be confident, but take nothing for granted.” Presidential senior adviser David Plouffe, the 2008 campaign manager now overseeing the enterprise from his perch steps away from the Oval Office, Jim Messina, Plouffe’s 2012 titular successor in Chicago, and their deputies in both cities believe that, despite the dangers of high unemployment and gas prices, Mitt Romney faces four major barriers to winning the big prize.

First, in the view of the Obamans, Romney is still a weak candidate. His stump skills continue to be uneven at best, with speeches plagued by awkward jargon and passionless rhetoric. They believe his tenure as head of Bain Capital and his term as governor of Massachusetts conceal vulnerabilities yet to be unveiled. “No one’s ever looked at Romney’s record, and there’s a lot there,” said one senior campaign official. “He developed this set of values at Bain about what the economy is all about … Whatever it took to make money … He took that same philosophy to Massachusetts [as governor].” Obama’s team is sitting on a multimedia treasure trove of research about both phases of Romney’s career and expects to launch powerful missiles at key moments throughout the campaign, discombobulating the Republican each time…

Because Chicago has expanded its electoral-map targets by exactly one McCain 2008 state – Arizona – and because the popular vote is expected to be closer than it was four years ago, the Obama team is not being coy when it admits this will be a close election. But as of the first week of May, it is not a close election any of the team’s members expects to lose.

Romney really is a weak candidate. Organizationally he’s the best we could have hoped for but as far as I know he’s never won a race in which he didn’t heavily outspend his opponents. He crushed Newt and, ultimately, Santorum that way (I’m including Super PAC money here of course) and he won the governorship in 2002 by spending two dollars for every one spent by his opponent. He had the good fortune this year too of facing a field in which all of his competitors were, for one reason or another, essentially not ready for prime time. As I think Philip Klein once put it, he was the one guy who showed up in a suit for his job interview, so he won. Barkley’s kidding himself by thinking O’s going to beat Mitt like a drum but, barring another economic downturn, it’s hard to be optimistic about facing a more talented pol in O who’ll be able to match Romney dollar for dollar. Hope I’m wrong about that, needless to say, but I might as well confess my doubts up front since soon it’ll be verboten on both sides to speak ill of one’s nominee — until the day after election day, when, if we end up falling short, the conventional wisdom will suddenly shift to “yeah, he was a weak candidate.” See also “McCain, John.” Speaking of which, your exit question: Maverick’s pretty excited about this Romney campaign, huh?

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