The old, trite saying is “the best defense is a good offense,” and we’ve seen it in both the Obama and Romney campaigns. Now — after a week being battered due to his refusal to release more than a year of taxes and increasing revelations and contradictions about his time a Bain Capital — presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign is starting a week long offensive to get the focus off Romney and back onto Barack Obama:
Trying to shift the presidential campaign narrative away from his personal finances and tenure at Bain Capital, Republican Mitt Romney will launch a fresh assault this week accusing President Obama of political cronyism at the expense of middle-class workers.
In a coordinated offensive starting Monday, the Romney team and its allies will say that the president has been a “typical politician” and has demonstrated “systematic favoritism” toward top campaign fundraisers by lavishing them with federal appointments and their companies with taxpayer money and special government deals, according to campaign officials.
“Coordinated effort” means as we speak they’re probably laying out this argument on Fox News and once Rush Limbaugh comes on it’ll also be a focus of his show. Plus, the talking head spinners — that species we see in both parties of official 24/7 partisans who vomit up talking points, sometimes in a sing-song tone of voice, or seemingly rush to fit in as many as possible — will getting the message out. Which partisan weblogs will pick up as well. The Post goes on:
All year on the stump, Romney has broadly labeled Obama a “crony capitalist,” but aides said the presumptive GOP nominee will deliver the attack to voters in a sharper and more substantive and sustained manner beginning at a Tuesday rally in Pennsylvania.
The overall effort, under the branding “Obama’s Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs,” will highlight alleged administration favoritism toward more than 200 Obama donors. The campaign will push the theme through online videos, appearances by Romney surrogates and messages tailored to battleground states, as well as Spanish-language and other specialty media. Campaign officials said they are considering television advertisements as well.
TV ads are a “given,” due to the battering Romney has taken the past week.
“If you’re a political donor to Barack Obama, you’re going to do fine, because you’re going to get a payoff. If you’re a middle-class worker, you’re in jeopardy, you’re facing a layoff,” Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Obama campaign officials see this as a weak line of attack, in part because, they said, Romney played favorites by steering tax breaks to some companies over others as governor of Massachusetts.
But what does having your own side do what you’re decrying have to do with 21st century American politics? It’s increasingly all about outrage aimed only at the other side’s political sports team.
“It’s clear that Mitt Romney will do anything to avoid answering serious questions about his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said. “But launching false attacks that only boomerang on his record of cronyism in Massachusetts and the Olympics won’t do it.”
In reality, Camp Romney has his work cut out for him. He faces a growing or chorus of GOPers clamoring for him to release more years of his taxes. Conservative were already irked that Camp Romney, through its favorite political website, the Drudge Report, floated the name of Condoleeza Rice for Veep (put that in your Ain’t Gonna Happen file). And now conservatives are increasingly upset that Romney hasn’t invited Sarah Palin (who was a high profile Romney foe during the primaries) to the Republican convention in Tampa.
But the big problem for Romney will be the fact that the news media — and that includes a chunk of the new news media — senses Romney has something to hide on taxes and is giving a muddled story on Bain Capital.
So while Fox News, Rush, and Sean Rip-and-Read-the-GOP-Talking-Points Hannity will be pressing the new Romney attack line, and the media will report it, it won’t short-circuit news media attention — and original reporting — on Romney’s finances, his record as Governor of Massachusetts, or the timeline and decisions at Bain Capital.
As I’ve often noted, it’s all part of a race to see which candidate swing voters will detest less in November.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.