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Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Politics | 1 comment

Mitt Romney’s Comeback Plan: His Vice Presidential Pick

Buzzfeed reports that presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s advisers are now saying what many analysts have noted and what some of his staunch supporters insist is not true: his campaign is now not in (ahem) great shape — and he’s hoping his Vice Presidential pick can be a game changer.

Or, at least, a media narrative changer:

Mitt Romney has lost each of the last 40 days, each day in its own way. Now his campaign, finally reckoning with a summer of effective fundraising and disastrous messaging, is hoping the waters will recede, and looking for a safe mountaintop on which to land his weathered ark.

Romney’s aides — resigned to the current news cycle until after the Olympics end — said in interviews this week that they see a safe landing: The vice presidential announcement, followed up by the Republican convention, offer Romney a chance to retake control over his own narrative.

In the meantime, aides are left to do what they can to mitigate the damage. They are hyping the impending running-mate selection and deploying the short-listers across swing states to stump for the candidate. Romney’s team is also promising another charm offensive after several public flaps with the press, tasking Kevin Madden, Romney’s affable 2008 spokesman, to occupy a more hands-on role as the campaign enters its final stretch. The campaign is also stepping up its efforts on defense, bringing on Michele Davis, a former top Treasury aide, to deal with the gaping wound that has been Bain Capital.

Asked how the campaign was planning to recover from weeks of lost news cycles in July, Romney campaign senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom did not contest the characterization, but said it wouldn’t ultimately matter.

“This campaign is not like a baseball game where you evaluate the score after every inning,” he said.

Still, implicit in that response is an acknowledgement of how difficult the deluge has been. The trouble began precisely at midnight on June 21st, when the Washington Post reported that Bain Capital-owned companies moved jobs overseas, a report followed in what appeared to be seconds by a prepared statement from Obama adviser David Axelrod.

But here is the problem:

  • The media excitement as a new political name in the political mix can’t be sustained through election day.
  • The Vice Presidential pick is going to be someone Team Romney had better vet really well and expect to be totally vetted by the media.
  • If he tries a “game changer” like John McCain did with Dick Cheney’s least-best-bud Sarah Palin, it’s a roll of the dice. Sarah Palin may be a powerhouse to Tea Party members and now exercise great clout within the GOP, but she did not prove to be a)a prepared candidate b)a great candidate in the general election c)someone who brought huge number of votes to the McCain campaign from non-GOPers.
  • A Vice Presidential pick will not solve the biggest problem of the Romney campaign itself: Mitt Romney, who never seems to miss a chance to put his foot in his mouth and whose continued refusal to release his tax returns and other indications of a penchant for secrecy and the erasure of records of his past actions (as Governor of Massachusetts and the Olympics) leave him as a continuing target for tough media questions and perhaps even more investigative journalism.
  • A Vice Presidential pick will for a while erase the existing media narrative at the time.

    But although there have been exceptions, in few cases have Vice Presidential picks won an election for a candidate.

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