As the Obama campaign and its allies continue to spend millions of dollars casting Mitt Romney as an “outsourcing pioneer” — a message that could cut to the very core of his record as a businessman — some Republicans are beginning to grumble that their nominee is making the classic mistake of modern politics in letting the attacks go unanswered…
The Romney campaign’s response so far has been muted. The campaign has pushed back against Obama’s attacks largely through press releases and dismissive comments, but they have yet to invest serious ad money to directly combat the hardening narrative.
It’s a move that has left some in the Republican elite, already displeased with the campaign’s flat-footed response to the Obamacare ruling, confused. Several have noted that this is how John Kerry lost in 2004 — by waiting too long to start debunking an opposition message that undermined a key part of his record (in his case, his status as a Vietnam veteran).
Romney can’t change his record, and Obamacare won’t stop being an issue. But could Romney at least partially reconcile the two by admitting that Romneycare was a bad idea?
It would certainly make Romney’s case more consistent; he could promise to end Obamacare without also having to explain himself. He would also bring his position in line with that of most Republican voters. But it might also be an unmitigated disaster, the most damaging flip-flop ever for a candidate known to change positions.
In the end, it’s almost impossible to imagine Romney would do it. When he talks about health care, there’s always a certain bravado — he has said he just can’t wait to engage Barack Obama in one-on-one debate over health care — that conceals the weakness of his position. He’s come too far to back down now, and odds are he will win or lose without ever admitting that Romneycare was the wrong thing to do.
[W]hat are voters to think when they hear the GOP nominee say, as he did yesterday to CBS’s Jan Crawford, “As long as I continue to speak about the economy, I’m going to win”? That they’re dopes who don’t know the economy’s bad, but as long as the Romney campaign keeps instructing them that it is bad, they’ll react correctly and vote the incumbent out of office?
The economy is of course important. But voters want to hear what Romney is going to do about the economy. He can “speak about” how bad the economy is all he wants—though Americans are already well aware of the economy’s problems—but doesn’t the content of what Romney has to say matter? What is his economic growth agenda? His deficit reform agenda? His health care reform agenda? His tax reform agenda? His replacement for Dodd-Frank? No need for any of that, I suppose the Romney campaign believes. Just need to keep on “speaking about the economy.”
Presidential races once measured by the hundreds of millions of dollars are now gauged by the billion. That shift has prompted hand-wringing, particularly among Obama supporters, that lackluster funding could doom the campaign. But the heavy emphasis on fundraising masks one key fact: Money means less in a presidential race than in its down-ballot cousins, at least when so much of it is sure to be spent…
“Money has a lot more impact in a race where there isn’t a lot of information out there,” said Kristen Soltis, a GOP consultant. “If I’m running against you for dogcatcher and you can outspend me 2- or 3-to-1, that’s a problem. But … it’s highly unlikely there will be many voters at the end confused about what Barack Obama believes, what Mitt Romney believes.”…
Messages also are more tightly controlled by the candidates themselves — a problem for outside groups that can’t legally coordinate with them. That dilemma could be a particular concern to Republicans, because their better-funded outside group apparatus will likely spend more on the general election than Romney himself.
“Obamacare cuts Medicare — cuts Medicare — by approximately $500 billion,” Mr. Romney has told audiences.
That is a reprise of Republicans’ mantra of the 2010 midterm elections, which gave them big gains at both the state and federal levels and a majority in the House. Yet the message conflicts not only with their past complaint that Democrats opposed reining in Medicare spending, but also with the fact that House Republicans have voted twice since 2010 for the same 10-year, $500 billion savings in supporting Mr. Ryan’s annual budgets.
The result is a messaging mess, even by the standards of each party’s usual election-year attacks that the other is being insufficiently supportive of older people’s benefits.
Obama runs even with, or slightly ahead of, Republican rival Mitt Romney in poll after poll. Campaign strategists debate the reasons.
They might include Obama’s personal likability, gaps in Romney’s strategy or Americans’ grudging acceptance of a new normal in which millions of jobs are gone for good and no single person is responsible.
If high unemployment “was a killer, he’d already be dead,” said Republican pollster and consultant Mike McKenna. “The survey data tells you he’s not dead.”
There’s a problem with applying historical precedents and conventional wisdom to Obama. He sometimes defies them.
Click the image to watch.
Via the Daily Caller.