Time to start chipping away at that “likability gap.”
Mitt Romney used a tough new campaign speech to personally blast the Obama campaign on Tuesday, saying comments earlier in the day from Vice President Biden are “what an angry and desperate Presidency looks like.”
“Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago,” Romney said while campaigning in Ohio…
“His campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the Presidency. Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower,” Romney said.
“This is an election in which we should be talking about the path ahead, but you don’t hear any answers coming from President Obama’s re-election campaign. That’s because he’s intellectually exhausted, out of ideas, and out of energy. And so his campaign has resorted to diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others. This is an old game in politics; what’s different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low.”
Romney’s known for biting negative ads (or rather, his Super PAC’s known for them) but that’s the most brutal criticism of another pol that I’ve heard him deliver personally. Three things going on here, I think. One: Like I said, he’s got to cut into O’s favorables. They’ve been a life preserver for his overall job approval rating; in a very close election, they could be decisive. Between the steelworker ad and Biden playing in the sewer with today’s “chains” remark, it’s time to force the media to report just how far Obama is from his Hopenchange-y Bambi image from 2008. A big angry speech from Romney himself does that.
Two: He’s trying to inoculate himself from even nastier — and more damaging — attacks down the line. Remember, according to Major Garrett, Obama’s Super PAC has all sorts of sludge in the pipeline waiting to flow. If things get desperate enough, we might even see O’s surrogates start talking about Romney’s, ahem, “weirdness.” If he can make Obama’s negativity a major story now, Team O might get nervous about pushing the envelope any further.
Three: Romney’s trying to maximize the political benefit from picking Ryan as VP. One of Ryan’s big assets as a retail politician — not unlike Obama 2008, in fact — is that he’s widely perceived as guileless, a good-natured ideas man who wants to do right by the country. His image is that of a guy who takes the high road in politics, and by choosing him Romney’s now taken it too. This whole attack on O is designed to show that off. You know how conservatives have been begging Mitt for the past month or two to “define himself” before Obama does it for him? Well, picking Ryan is a dramatic act of self-definition: Romney’s now the Serious, Above The Fray Candidate. Tonight’s broadside is his attempt to define Obama as the opposite of that.
None of which means there isn’t room for Romney surrogates to dive headfirst into the fray on his behalf. Here’s some verrry belated payback from Giuliani for Biden’s infamous line during one of the Democratic debates five years ago that every sentence out of Rudy’s mouth involves a noun, a verb, and 9/11.
KUDLOW: You know, what did he say? ‘Y’all going to be put back in chains’? That almost has racial overtones, Rudy Giuliani. What’s your take on that?
GIULIANI: Well, I think if it came from somebody serious maybe we’d get all excited about it. But the — I think the vice president of the United States has become a laugh line on late night television. I mean, he — I’ve never seen a vice president that has made as many mistakes, said as many stupid things. I mean, there’s a real fear if, God forbid, he ever had to be entrusted with the presidency, whether he really has the mental capacity to handle it. I mean, this guy just isn’t bright. He’s never been bright. He isn’t bright. And people think, ‘Well, he just talks a little too much.’ Actually he’s not very smart.
Krauthammer called him the “crazy uncle in the attic” on Fox tonight. Biden kinda sorta tried to walk the “chains” comment back tonight while out on the stump but I’ll leave you to read what he said for yourself. His claim is that the GOP says they want to “unshackle” the economy, ergo he was simply playing off their rhetoric with the “chains” comment. And, for reasons left unexplained, evidently he needed to say “y’all” and change “they’re” to “they” in order to do it. In fact, don’t even bother following that last link. It’s an insult to everyone’s intelligence. Exit quotation: “A comment like that would never come out of Paul Ryan’s mouth. He’s too savvy and too astute to say something so over the top.”