NEW YORK – One of the worst moments for any presidential campaign has to be the day reporters stop writing about what your candidate says and does on the trail–the day-to-day stuff of the campaign–and starts jostling for the best post-mortem explanation as to why your campaign failed. Arguably, that day came over the weekend for team Romney.
Less than one week since Mitt “Carnival Barker” Romney tried to turn the tragic deaths of Americans to political advantage for his campaign, the media is now drafting their obituaries for Romney-Ryan 2012. Alas, poor Mitt–nobody knew him very well at all.
Politico’s recent “Inside the Campaign” post leads with the word “stumbled” as it takes the reader behind the disheveled and disorganized scenes of the man who would be king. What we see is a tale of speeches scrapped last-minute, a carefully scripted campaign thrown off script, teamwork tossed out the door for veteran consultant hail-mary passes that, ultimately, miss by a mile.
On a similar, albeit more subtle note, Sunday’s Washington Post ran a story about a major shift in messaging from the Romney campaign:
The point, the aide said, is that if voters find all aspects of the status quo, including economic and foreign policy, acceptable, they should vote for Obama. But if they are fed up with what Romney argues is failure across the board by Obama, they will turn to Romney.
In other words, the Romney campaign is shifting its message from “Vote for Romney because Obama hates America!” to “America! If you hate Obama, vote for Romney!”
Having tried and failed already at throwing the kitchen sink at the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign has decided to just throw the kitchen. If that fails, one presumes they will throw the whole house.
Is Mitt Romney’s campaign really drowning? Who knows. What we do know is this: We have yet to have a single debate; the Middle East has erupted into violent riots; the combination of high unemployment and bloated corporate executive coffers still weighs down the economy; Israel is threatening to bomb Iran; Iran is threatening to bomb Israel; Occupy Wall Street has returned to Zuccotti Park; Republican voter ID laws are threatening to disenfranchise huge numbers of voters. As the Starks are wont to say on Game of Thrones: all we know for sure is “Winter is coming.” There is still plenty out there to throw this election into a tailspin for the administration.
What we can pronounce DOA, however, is the image of Mitt Romney as an organized, meticulous business man whose past success was the result of his tireless due diligence and relentless focus. What America has seen is a sharp contrast to that image.
The Mitt Romney of the 2012 Presidential campaign is a man whose plan for success began by gathering the biggest pile of beans and ended by making the case that the candidate with the biggest pile of beans must be the obvious choice to win. How did Mitt Romney get his big pile of beans? Mitt Romney had us believe it was the result of his organization, hard work, and focus. If you did not vote for the guy with all the beans then, well, you must be disorganized, lazy, and distracted.
So much for that story. Nobody believes it anymore.
This image of the business man with a big pile of beans–which has roots in the story of how Mitt Romney saved the Winter Olympics with nothing but a spoon and a jar of peanut butter–has failed to take root amongst voters who either never admired the gluttonous success of businessmen like Romney or, more likely: would admire him were it not for their being unemployed, underwater, and deprived of retirement savings by the same “free” markets that rewarded men like Mitt Romney.
In this environment, campaign onlookers are discovering that in the decade that he has been running for President, the so-called meticulous businessman did not prepare a contingency plan if, say, campaigning as an arrogant rich guy just did not work. You’ve been doing this for a decade and you have not campaign message Plan B? Egads.
And so, the story that Mitt Romney tells about himself to make middle class voters admire him has become the story Mitt Romney tells that makes middle class voters turn away in disgust. And his only way out of it has been to toss his hat in with the mob.
Like a tablespoon of spoiled milk soaked up by an acrid kitchen sponge, so goes Mitt Romney into the 30-year-war of the GOP against President Obama.
Having run a frighteningly expensive campaign full of gaffes and disorganization–Romney must now take his chances with the party that never wanted him in the first place.
Mitt Romney’s ability to pull ahead in states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia, now depends not on how much people agree with whatever message, image or ideas he may have once brought to his campaign from his long career in business and politics.
It depends, instead, on those stale, uninteresting, and repulsive messages dumped into the media by Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, and the various DC stooges who gave up the responsibility of governing to begin the campaign against Barack Obama 5 minutes before he was even sworn into office.
Mitt Romney is dead! Long live Mitt Romney.