I hope it works, but c’mon. If there’s a swing voter out there who doesn’t know The One’s a liar by now, he/she’s probably unpersuadable.
In a conference call Monday morning, senior staff said Romney’s surrogates would stop shying away from the word “lie” in responding to Democrats’ attacks on his business record, and plan to go on TV to call Obama a “liar,” the source said.
“They are very fed up with these attacks,” said the source…
“The feeling was that nobody is watching this right now,” said the source. “They had a time frame to respond to the Bain attacks… But today the counterattack with the surrogates is going to begin.”
Gallup’s new swing-state poll finds Obama up by two points, thanks in part to his ad blitz. Among those who say that a campaign commercial has changed their mind about a candidate, 76 percent say they support The One versus just 16 percent who say they support Romney. (Nine percent of independents say their minds have been changed by an ad.) That’s higher than I would have guessed, frankly; this National Journal piece from a few days ago argues compellingly that ad buys are overrated in presidential campaigns, notwithstanding the apparent effect that Obama’s Bain-bashing is having. There’s too much information about the candidates already out there. To move the needle, you need to find something negative about the other guy that voters have somehow missed and hammer it into their heads. That’s easier for Team Hopenchange than for Team Mitt, obviously, because Romney’s still an unknown quantity to some voters.
That said, I think Mark Halperin’s right that if the Dems are trying to make this Romney’s “swift boat,” they’ll have a tougher time than the GOP did eight years ago. Slightly tougher:
The Swift Boat line of attack went along the info-news conveyor belt from some limited paid media and a book, to right-leaning earned media, to cable news, to the broadcast networks and major print publications. So far, that hasn’t happened with the Obama attack. New media allows the Democrats on their own to spread the message through literally hundreds of platforms, but that doesn’t mean it will take over big-time earned media and dominate the campaign discourse, the way Swift Boats did.
The Swift Boat story was infused with a lot of emotion, for the accusers, for Kerry, and for many of the senior media decision makers of the time who had Vietnam-era ties. Emotion drives a lot in politics. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of genuine emotion involved in any part of the Romney story. (Except for Ben LaBolt’s obvious outrage.)
The Swift Boat story discombobulated Kerry for all sorts of reasons. After stumbling on these issues during the Republican nomination fight, Romney lately seems unfazed by new attacks on how he made and consolidated his wealth.
What are the odds that the outsourcing attacks will “take over big-time earned media and dominate the campaign discourse” if Obama falls a few points behind and looks to be in real jeopardy of losing in September? And as for Romney being unfazed, that’s true — but should he be? His campaign seems to have calculated that it’s still too early to worry about these attacks and that he’s doing just fine in the polls thus far. Watch Bill Kristol below on “Fox News Sunday,” though: The question isn’t whether Romney’s within a few points, it’s why he isn’t leading outright as the Obama economy circles the drain in a tightening, accelerating spiral. Team Mitt seems to be banking on 1980 redux, when an avalanche of swing voters finally gave up on Carter and embraced Reagan after the debates. Is there any strong reason to believe that’ll happen again? With Reagan, the concern was that he was too “radical” and maybe too old to be trusted with the presidency. Once voters felt reassured about his competence and vision, they broke. No one’s worried about those things with Romney, though, despite the Democrats’ dumb insistence that he’s the wingnuttiest nominee since Barry Goldwater. Everyone, including his opponents, accepts that he’s sharp, sober, and cautious. He’s presidential material. So what’s going to change after the debates this time?