When Presidential campaigns this early in the election year start talking to reporters about why they feel confident they’re going to win, it’s usually a case of (a) spin, or (b)dangerous overconfidence. Nonetheless, the reasons Time’s Mark Halperin reports as to why Camp Obama feels they’ll win in the longrun make sense — and make up our political Quote of the Day:
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.
This has been reported in one form or another for many months now: the Obama camp has lots of material on Romney and intends to release it. In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. It’s hard to believe there is some major, new revelation about Obama or his background.
Second, they maintain, their research suggests Romney has exactly one rhetorical path to victory, as a can-do businessman able to fix what’s broken. Chicago intends to focus as much of its formidable firepower as necessary to dismantle Romney on that front and prevent the election from becoming a referendum on the President’s economic tenure.
As Romney tries to define Obama as a nice guy who is basically over his head, the Obama campaign will do what Karl Rove has done to Democrats for years: find Romney’s perceived strength and hammer away so it’s not seen as a strength anymore.
Third, the Obama team argues, Romney has taken many positions to the right of public opinion. The President’s team plans to throw two years’ worth of provocative statements in Romney’s face, using sophisticated micro-targeting to impacted demographics. On an unrelenting messaging loop, Hispanics will hear about Romney’s ties to the country’s most controversial anti-illegal immigration leaders and laws. Senior citizens dependent on Medicare will be told again and again about Romney’s backing of Paul Ryan’s House budget plan. Women will be warned about the threat to reproductive freedom. And on and on.
I personally feel this will be Romney’s downfall. Since September 4, I have been on the road on a national car trip, spending only four weeks total at home in San Diego (this trip ends at the end of May). As I have noted many times here, on TMV, I’ve come across many current more moderate Republicans, traditional conservatives and authentic independents who rather liked the old version of Mitt Romney. Even so, they could have lived with a George W. Bush style Mitt Romney. But the current incarnation of Mitt Romney is trying to blend in with the GOP’s polarizing talk radio political culture and the Tea Party movement.
This is the Romney that seems to be afraid of taking Rush Limbaugh to task, defending a gay foreign policy staffer or emulating Arizona Gov. John McCain and drawing a line on the public over-the-top-rhetoric of supporters (McCain corrected a voter who called Obama “an Arab,” Romney glossed over a voter who said Obama should be tried for treason).
Romney needs to project an aura of political consistency and leadership strength; at present he is doing neither, and if he wins it’ll be because many voters feel Obama is not up to the job.
Due to the “Etch a Sketch” controversy, if Romney tries to move to the center he could be hammered by GOPers to his right and also slammed by the news media who are not going to not report him making a major shift in position. My bet is he’ll keep trying to win over his party’s base and write off more moderate Republicans (hey, they’re a dying breed and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is on political execution row tomorrow).
Fourth and finally, presidential politics, in the end, is all about the Electoral College. The Obama campaign’s analysis, matching recent media number crunching, indicates that Romney has a paper-thin margin of error to get to the magical 270. The map is littered with states the Republicans must take from the 2008 Democratic column in order to win, and in many of them, such as Ohio and Virginia, they are behind.
Lest you think the Obamaoans are hanging in the precipice of dangerous analytical one-sidedness, be assured: they’re not. If you go to the original link it’s clear they have stood back and analyzed what they have working in their favor. It’s just that, in the end, they think the four factors above will trump (excuse the expression) the factors working against them.
It really comes down to which party and candidate can turn off more voters. And I suspect if it comes down to that, it could be Romney since there are few signs that he is seriously trying to expand his tent, only keep those he has in his tent from leaving. He could get more inside his tent if they seek refuge from stagnant or worsening financial conditions. But there seems to be little outreach on his part and — at this point — he seems like one of the potentially weakest GOP Presidential candidates in many years.
FOOTNOTE: Be sure to read Dean Esmay’s take on the same article, which is different than mine.