The Two Campaigns of Mitt Romney

  • Share
  • Read Later
Brian Snyder / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach on Sept. 8, 2012

Every campaign starts with a theory of the case. In 2004, George W. Bush’s advisers surmised a shaken country wanted a leader who had the strength to take tough decisions to keep us safe. Four years ago, Barack Obama ran on change and against George W. Bush. On the day he entered the race 15 months ago, the organizing principle of Mitt Romney’s campaign was that the 2012 election would hinge on Obama’s mishandling of the sluggish economy. Romney is still promoting the case that he has the job-creating chops the President lacks. But as Election Day nears, he has begun to build a new, aggressive campaign atop the foundation of his old one.

Appearing on Meet the Press this weekend for the first time this cycle, Romney was asked by David Gregory to write his campaign’s bumper sticker. “It’s basically–you want more jobs, you want higher income? Then vote for Romney and Ryan,” he said. This was vintage Romney: the candidate who aspired to center-right acceptability, citing the bipartisan accomplishment of his governorship, praising elements of Obama’s health care reform, and stressing above all the health of the economy.

(PHOTOS: On the Trail with Romney)

A different Mitt Romney showed up in Ohio on Monday. This was the flame-throwing, base-juicing nominee of an increasingly conservative party, the guy who frequents NASCAR events, rallies with hard-right icons and raps his opponent for remaking America as a godless European nanny state. Addressing supporters at a metal fabricator in Mansfield, Romney attacked Obama for the rise in food stamp recipients and his role in crafting impending cuts to the defense budget. Earlier Monday, he weighed in on the Chicago teachers’ strike, using a local spat in a city he claims to disdain to swipe at unions and hem in Obama between his former chief of staff and a key Democratic constituency. At rallies over the weekend in the conservative strongholds of Western Iowa and Virginia Beach, Romney appeared alongside Congressman Steve King — who edges so far right he makes Todd Akin look like Barney Frank — and controversial televangelist Pat Robertson, and laced his stump speech with unbidden affirmations of his love for God and country.

It’s not that Romney has abandoned his focus on the economy as the paramount issue of the campaign. But over the past few months, both in television ads and remarks to partisan audiences, the cool emphasis on his Mr. Fix-It business credentials have increasingly jockeyed for space with hot-button, base-mobilizing rhetoric.

Since the summer, when an Obama ad onslaught casting Romney as a heartless moneybags began opening the incumbent’s narrow lead in the polls, Romney has been letting the red meat fly. In Michigan, he cracked a birther joke. In Virginia, he intimated Obama wanted to “take God off our coins.” His campaign cut a TV spot falsely accusing Obama of gutting welfare reform, then scoffed at fact-checkers’ outrage and anointed it “our most effective ad.”

(PHOTOS: The Rich History of Mitt Romney)

Why has Romney veered from the economic script his advisers still say is enough to win the presidency? The answer is simple: the argument wasn’t enough. In a year when swing voters are a vanishing breed, tailoring a message for the political center is still sensible, but not sufficient. The first major sign that Romney recognized this was his selection Paul Ryan as his running mate, and his subsequent embrace of the Wisconsinite’s austere budget. Picking Ryan was a chancy move for a candidate averse to risk. It was a base play. And while it afforded Romney a new identity — that of the conservative reformer ready to make tough choices, rather than the expedient tactician — it also likely betrayed a recognition that absent a shakeup, the Republican was on course to lose. Why else would he abandon the frame that the election was a referendum on Obama, and instead cast it as a choice on an issue (Medicare) on which Democrats have historically dominated?

But Ryan hasn’t been responsible for Romney’s falling poll numbers. (A CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed Obama up six points nationally, 52%-46%, in the wake of a strong convention.) Rather, the culprit is his inability to coax voters into assigning Obama a larger share of the blame for the dismal economic recovery.

Romney advisers still profess confidence. “The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse argued in a memo released Monday, on the heels of a raft of surveys showing the kind of post-convention bump for the incumbent that Romney failed to earn. But in August, a senior Romney aide also predicted a post-convention bounce for the challenger of up to 11 points. And in the new CNN poll, Obama has managed, remarkably, to open a one-point lead on the question of who would better handle the economy. Yes, it’s a virtual tie taken at a moment when polls tend to be most volatile — but it also underscores the weakness of Romney’s original case against the President. By a two-to-one margin, according to one poll this summer, voters still blame Obama’s predecessor for the dismal economy.

(VIDEO: Mitt Romney’s Speech in 3 Minutes or Less)

Which may explain why Romney is running two campaigns. On the national stage, when undecided voters are tuning in, he is the sensible private-sector executive eager to cross the aisle to get America working again. His surrogates gently tell frustrated voters that the Obama’s not a bad guy — just a bad President. The ads geared toward this centrist audience are designed to assuage guilt: “He tried. You tried. It’s OK to make a change,” says one. And then there’s the other Mitt Romney, the one who fires up partisan crowds on the campaign trail, who frets about creeping secularism and blasts Obama for running a campaign of “anger and hatred.”

The split-screen messaging is not unusual; all candidates tailor their message to their audience. But it is a sign that the Romney brain trust realizes that their original game plan isn’t panning out as they drew it up.

Cover Story: The Mind Of Mitt

141 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
TechTate
TechTate

Left and right, the leadership of both are corrupt in philosophy, word, and deed. We don't need more Keynsian presidents.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

HOPE is back in the American economic outlook: The U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 for the week ending Sept. 9 -- an 11-point jump from the previous week, and near the highest point reached since Gallup Daily tracking began in January 2008.

Help President OBAMA help the US Economy and Middle Class.  VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

fashion shoes
fashion shoes

Cheap

Adidas Women ClimaCool Seduction

Cheap

Men's Adidas adiZero Rose 2.5 Low PE AWAY Shoes

Cheap

2012 Adidas Predator TRX FG

Cheap

Adidas Superstar Dmm EQT Shoes

Cheap

Adidas Daroga Two CC Royal Blue Black White Men

Shoes

 

peter_principle
peter_principle

You put together two data points -- the fact that Rmoney desperately needs to pump up the redneck vote in Virginia, Florida and North Carolina, and a recent Reuters poll showing that most Southern whites have bigger problems with voting for rich guys and Mormons than voting for a black man -- and you can see why Mitt needs to dial the code word politics up to 11.

http://www.latimes.com/news/po...

Before this election is over, the Romney campaign is going to make it look like an Alabama sheriff's race, circa 1962.

lurch3
lurch3

The only reason a man changes his position on substantive issues as frequently as he does is that he values power more than he values character, and he will do anything to obtain it.

ChowT
ChowT

and he will say anything to get votes.

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

It is not Obama's economy alone. Americans should also consider Obama's religious views. Obama marks every Muslim holiday with a speech. When

Obama mentioned Passover, he likened it to the uprisings in the Arab world.

It is hard to imagine showing more disrespect for Judaism than to link the

Passover celebration with the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.  And Obama remained absolutely silent during the most solemn feast day on the Christian calendar, (apart from hosting an Easter Egg hunt). Obama’s agenda has accelerated America’s decline

exponentially. When Obama took office, the IMF was warning that if America

didn’t get its financial house in order, it would lose its status as the

world’s most powerful economy by 2030. Comparing Obama’s agenda with the

agenda of the antichrist --a global government, centralized global economy and

a global religious system and a global religious system hostile to Christians

and Jews – American presidential politics takes on extreme relevance to Bible

prophecy. The antichrist is a politician who presides over a political

system that has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof; gives lip

service to the god of forces but who ultimately views himself as being above

any god.

lurch3
lurch3

Obama is Christian (and you've met his preacher). How dense some people are.

ChowT
ChowT

You are too polite.

BobJan
BobJan

 Surely you must be talking about the republicans. They give lots of lip service but no results. Bachmann, Palin, Santorum, Gingrich, they all claim to be christians but they talk hate, hate, and more hate. Beside, anyone that is against Christ is the Antichrist and there have been millions down through the ages. In fact Mormons seem to be antichrist. I may be wrong on that but, what happened to the gold tablets that Joseph Smith found? Oh yeah, heaven took them back.

ChowT
ChowT

Gold tablets with Mitt Romney. He will produce 12 million jobs with that. But you must trust him first.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Did you miss the part about President Obama killing binladen and most of the al qaeda  hierarchy?  Are you a zionist rip van winkle?  Strange.

ChowT
ChowT

Conveniently forgotton.

Scotty_A
Scotty_A

Romney is too secretive to be a effective campaigner.  He tries to talk in code so much that people don't know what he is talking about half the time. And during the other half, he talks in such vague terms that people find him to be indecisive and not that competent. A simple question is likely going to trip him up in a debate with Obama.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

He is just trying to speak in right wing nut and centrist at the same time.  It tests the capacity of the brain and tongue.

Grant MacDonald
Grant MacDonald

Whatever happened to “separation of church and

state”...?  USA is becoming so corrupt –

that it can’t even see the forest -- because of the homophobic religious “trees

of hate” …! Who is to protect minority rights when the majority of religious

wackos are trampling over the rights of others.  http://www.BogusHocusPocus.com

To see the religious lunatics try

to manipulate government and our lives -- is shameful.    Someone left the door of the asylum ajar -- the religious

extremists are loose amp; they are all in the Republican Party!  http://www.HolyFaux.com

The

Republican Party have become the party of hate and bigotry against gays -- when

human rights should be their mantra. 

Being black; left-handed or being gay is just as natural!   The Republican Party is being manipulated by

extreme religious wackos -- who are destroying the integrity and compassion of

the United States.  They should be

referred to as … The Party of Hate!  Whatever

happened to Love Your Fellowman? Kids are being bullied and committing suicide

while the adults are basing their hateful beliefs on a fictional character!  Insanity has overcome the United States!  http://FightForDignity.com

Steve Dykstra
Steve Dykstra

A big part of the shift stems from the public's recognition that Romney doesn't actually have job-creating business credentials.  That lies alongside the recogniton that Ryan's budget plan doesn't balance anything, but does give more money to the rich and take more money from everyone else.

Romney's greatest business epxerience is sucking the blood from companies until they die.  And Paul Ryan's greatest fiscal accomplishment is totaling up only half the numbers in a balance sheet and covering the rest with his arm. 

wrothbard
wrothbard

Technically, all companies that come to private equity companies do so of their own volition, and usually because they are in a bad way. (It usually has to be pretty bad when only private equity companies will provide you with capital), however I think Bain also engages in venture capitalism (that is, seeking out companies that they believe will succeed and investing in the).

If you look at the success/failure rate of companies that Bain invested in, like in this article in the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/...

Out of 77 investments by Bain, in 17 cases the company went bankrupt, so that's between 1/5th or 1/4th of the time that the companies failed.

Most of the profits from those 77 investments came from 10 deals that turned out great.

Doesn't really seem all that bloodsucky to me.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

You are not being fair.  Romney has excellent job (sort of) and wealth creating credentials for himself.

paza ganaden
paza ganaden

just as Tiffany implied I'm stunned that some one able to get paid $5098 in one month on the computer. have you seen this web link N u T t y R i C h  d o t c o m

 

paza ganaden
paza ganaden

I make $82h while I'm traveling the world. Last week I worked by my laptop in Rome, Monti Carlo and finally Paris…This week I'm back in the USA. All I do are easy tasks from this one cool site. check it out,  Red97 .co m

Christopher Lancaster
Christopher Lancaster

After 8 years in office, Bush (The Republicans) left a huge mess: Our economy losing 750,000 jobs a month!  Now because Obama didn't clean it up fast enough, they want Obama out, so they can screw it up again.

The problem with the conservatives, is that they can only view our human world from a business/profit motive or conflict/war point of view.

ChowT
ChowT

Absolutely correct.

Mike P
Mike P

I read the article about Mitt Romney in Rolling Stone (Matt Taibb) and it convinced me that he (Mitt) is a snake-in-the-grass and cannot be trusted to do the honest things our country needs to get back on its economic footing. I do believe that Obamas is trying his best but the GOP wants him to fail. Mitt Romney is not an average American Joe but a privileged predator who uses the tax system to destroy destroy destroy. He cant create jobs at all no matter what he says. Plus he a flip-flopping liar. No way will he get my vote

Bailey
Bailey

They're so far right, they're unVOTABLE.  They're completely at odds with the general public on almost every issue.  I mean really, Romney pursuing Pat Robertson???

Palladia
Palladia

I view that as more of a circle jerk.  Each of them is seeking validation from the other, who, in turn, has none.

Bailey
Bailey

Loving the responses to this story.  One thing I will say Obama needs to figure out is how to hold Congress responsible for not doing their job.  You can't reward Republicans for their obstruction, especially when they're willing to risk the good of the country for their goals (debt ceiling debacle anyone?).  I feel the Democratic Party and Obama haven't highlighted the role of Congress in our economic issues, blocking the Jobs Act etc.  He's made gestures like asking Congress to vote to lower taxes for the 98% but someone needs to be explicit to the public about what they've done.  I hope it comes up in the debates, especially with Paul Ryan being one of them!

SmilingSmartBlonde
SmilingSmartBlonde

The sensible private sector executive eager to cross the aisle to get America working  would have won votes. Too bad for Romney that his funds are coming from people who actually like all that stuff Sarah Palin started.  Mitt Romney's handlers and his financial backers want Mitt to be firing up the partisan crowd, so that is what he mostly does, so it seems. Sounds sooo cliche but then again, money talks.

Leslie Todd
Leslie Todd

So whos happy with the Tea Party now ........ 2 years later .

whos happy with the Republican Party after 4  years . ?

outsidewatcher
outsidewatcher

 And Bullshit walks.  That's what Romney and Ryan should do...walk away from this whole mess

Palladia
Palladia

There's a difference between firing up a crowd, and firing into a crowd.  I'm not sure that Romney has mastered the niceties, and sometimes he delivers "friendly fire."

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I think the two campaigns of Mr. Romney also represents the two parts of the Republican Party that will descend into an internal civil war should Mr. Romney lose this election.

For the second straight election the GOP has nominated a traditional, centrist candidate and I believe that if President Obama is re-elected the far right, teaparty faction of the party will turn on traditional moderate Republicans with a furious vengeance. 

This will, of course, bode ill for any Republicans in Congress who have the temerity to reach across the isle to work with their Democratic counterparts.  

More political posturing, more gridlock, more congressional inaction.  Oh, joy.  The hatred and mudslinging never ends.

Palladia
Palladia

If the Republican Party does descend into civil war, a lot of us would hold the coats.  Let them take out their attitudes on each other, and leave people who want to get on with their lives unimpeded. 

I thought the primary season was instructive: just think what recriminations and fury a post-losing-election could bring out! 

The phoenix may rise from the ashes, but the turkeys are Thanksgiving dinner.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

I hope the result of this infighting will be a return to a more sensible, centrist Republican Party; one that sees their political opponents as just that, not enemies of America who can't be engaged in any kind of compromise.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Karl Rove has moved on to ensuring the Senate races are run by Republicans so they can push their agenda through. He doesn't care how crazy they are if they have an R behind their name.

Palladia
Palladia

Maybe.  But I wouldn't count on it.  This current strategy was likely a long plan set up by Karl Rove, and it doesn't have a "call-back code."

Having been launched, it will just proceed as it has been going without much regard to who or what is destroyed in the process.

Dustin Nelson
Dustin Nelson

Of course Romney has two campaigns, one for Flip and one for Flop!

Palladia
Palladia

Maybe he's channelling his inner Groucho Marx:

"These are my principles, and if you don't like them, I've got others."

MKinSoCal
MKinSoCal

Hmmm, a lot of comments and responses to "Sherry Smith".  I suspect a pseudonym for a Republican troll.

MKinSoCal
MKinSoCal

So many responses to "Sherry Smith." I suspect a pseudonym for a Republican troll, maybe even a member of Romney's staff.

MKinSoCal
MKinSoCal

All these responses to "Sherry Smith". I suspect a pseudonym for a Republican troll.

Christopher London, Esq.
Christopher London, Esq.

TO SUPPORTER OF THE GOP’S WHITE HORSE - Maybe you want to remember that sometimes your ‘White Knight’ in shining armor is really just another manipulative, power craven [Mormon] idiot like Joseph Smith, in a tin foil hat

Ducks in a Row
Ducks in a Row

If catholics and evangelicals knew Romney's record on abortion and some of the kooky stuff he believes they would run in the other direction and tell everyone they know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

MKinSoCal
MKinSoCal

Interesting how all the religious oriented hate being generated in this campaign by presumedly "Christian" conservative groups is aimed at the CHRISTIAN candidate? Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

bobell
bobell

Both candidates are Christian, right?

MKinSoCal
MKinSoCal

I believe if you were to ask Romney about his faith, he will respond that he is Mormon.