Romney’s New Approach: The Tale of Two Ads

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Mitt Romney has a very tricky problem. He’s running against an incumbent President whose poll numbers have proved resilient in the face of a weak economic recovery. The last few weeks have produced a bit of Republican panic, so his campaign is out with a Bold New Strategy™: Senior Romney adviser Stuart Stevens tells Politico (the official publication for announcing Bold New Strategies™) that the election is now a “referendum on ‘status quo versus change.'” You read that right. Not a choice election or an incumbent referendum, but all of the above. Bold. And the campaign ads Romney is running to accompany this new strategy are bold too, if only in illustrating Romney’s challenge.

Here’s, the first TV spot, which we’ll call the referendum ad.

Household income has been falling under Obama, the narrator says, and the debt has been increasing too, which tells us the President is “failing American families.” Both those trends have a lot to do with the Great Recession, which Romney is implicitly arguing Obama didn’t do enough to reverse. Got it? Obama bad; vote for someone else. The problem for Romney is that a good chunk of voters are still blaming George W. Bush for the bad economy, and these particular examples don’t really help the case that they shouldn’t. Household incomes fell between 2000 and 2008 too, and tax cuts, security spending and a Medicare prescription benefit passed under Bush are significant ongoing contributors to the deficit. (Obama’s policies contributed too, of course: his stimulus package was a large, one-time charge, and while Obamacare reduces the deficit in the first decade, its longer-term costs are tied to the ever-growing price of health care.)

Now let’s take a look at the other ad: the choice one.

“My plan is to help the middle class,” Romney says to the camera before listing his three-point plan. (It used to be 59 points, but that’s hard to explain in 30 seconds.) New policies on trade–“crack down on cheaters like China”–deficits–“gotta balance the budget”– and small business–“tax policies, regulations and health care policies that help”–will produce 12 million jobs over his first term, Romney says. It’s remarkable that Romney is now running on a middle-class economic message because that means he’s essentially fighting on the Obama campaign’s turf, but that 12 million jobs number is the real attention-grabber. Any promise to create a fixed number of jobs represents a political risk. You never know when Europe might blow up in financial crisis or when the dysfunction in Congress might reach critical mass. But under scrutiny, Romney’s number isn’t actually bold at all.

The Washington Post among others have addressed this, but it’s worth updating with the latest numbers. Assuming a very rough estimate of 1 million new jobs per 1% in economic growth, the Fed’s new forecast has the economy adding between 5.5 million and 6.8 million jobs in 2013 and 2014, with the pace quickening in the following years. Moody’s Analytics’ August forecast was slightly sunnier, but roughly in the same range. So Romney’s pledge to create 12 million jobs in four years is on the conservative end of the spectrum. More importantly, that predictive spectrum is based on current policy. In other words, Romney is pledging to preserve the economic status quo. Which sorta makes sense. After all, it seems to be working for Obama.

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Jill Louis
Jill Louis

 

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upmandown
upmandown

Another proverbial rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic...while Ryan hides in a lifeboat.

Spider's Web
Spider's Web

Hang on in there America! The US economy is about to take off amp; I bet Obama 2012 doesn't  want a Romney administration around to take the credit in 2013. 

I'm beginning to think that the incumbent doesn't need to do anything as his opponent implodes around him. Ineptitude thy name is Mitt!  

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 Massachusetts

residents who file a state tax return have to provide proof that they have

health insurance. If they can afford insurance but don’t have it, they must

“pay a penalty through their tax returns,” according to the state Department of

Revenue’s Web site. 

This is all thanks to Mitt Romney, who set up the

system — the best of its kind in the country — and is now trying to pretend he

doesn’t remember how it works. On Monday, his campaign said Romney believed the

identical requirement in President Obama’s health care law was a penalty, paid

through the tax system. Two days later, Romney rushed to the cameras to

contradict the campaign and insist the mandate was a tax. 

 

Why the switch? As he has on so many issues, Romney

caved to self-serving Republicrap conservatives who want him to campaign on the

falsehood that the mandate is a vast tax increase on the middle class. 

 

And Romney keeps shooting himself in the foot! 

 

But he can take heart: after he is defeated in November,

he can run for President of Cayman Islands...or Switzerland

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 On

Obama's balance sheet: 

 

+ affordable healthcare for all Americans 

+ gas at 2.94 a gallon  

+ jobs are available for all who are willing to

work 

+ protections for young immigrants who have been

working on behalf of USA 

+ gay/human rights take a large step forward 

+ gays serving openly in the military 

+ new housing starts moving upwards 

+ DOMA is effectively demolished 

 

In less than 4 years he has managed to overcome much

of the gargantuan mess created and left to him by the previous incompetent

Republicrap administration. 

 

In less than 4 years, he has managed to accomplish

more than any US president since Lincoln. 

 

And now, the SCOTUS has guaranteed him 4 more years

in the White House! 

 

GOBAMA 2012!!!  

YES WE CAN!!! YES WE DID!!! YES WE WILL!!!

Cane Pazzo
Cane Pazzo

We're still waiting for a real plan from Romney to fix the economy.  So far we've only heard generalities and platitudes.  The central theme is - I'm a CEO.  George W. Bush was also a businessman with an MBA.  How did that work out?

The federal government cannot be operated like a corporation much less a private one which is about all Romney has experience with.  Don't bring up the Olympics because the federal government bailed it out.  Romney's famous quote paraphrased - I'll go to Washington because that is where the money is.

His term as governor does not bode well for the future.  If Romney had run on the policies he's pushing now he would never have been elected in Mass.

Vulture/Voucher 2012 going down!

Cane Pazzo
Cane Pazzo

Romney is going down the toilet and his campaign is panic mode.  All this even before Obama pummels him during the debates.  The new strategy - do what they have been doing since the primaries.  So far Romney's campaign team is the dumbest ever.  Who's to blame?  Romney because he  is the CEO.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So basially the attack is the same with a slight variant and the solution is the same; elect CEO president Romney so the rich can get their tax cuts?

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

I can't believe the bashing China message plays well with most voters, including Romney's constituency.  Most of them shop at Walmart, and a trade war with China will raise prices.

And since the Republicans have also been bashing Obama because China now owns us, it will make most voters (including me) a wee bit nervous to be provoking the hand that feeds us.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

4 years ago people who had a job were very afraid they were going to lose it.  I think that has probably stabilized in a lot of places (has in VT), so people with jobs feel better off even if they know that other people don't have jobs.  That diminishes the impact of the employment rate.  On the other hand, they're afraid Romney's going to take away things that support them or their extended family, such as medicare and food stamps. 

And he's announced that he thinks the middle class is $200,000 to $250,000, so it's no wonder he thinks he wants to help the middle class (don't know why this ad isn't up for the Democrats)

Obama's "yes we are better off than we were 4 years ago" is very effective I think.  Short, to the point, uses Clinton saying Romney wants to take us back to where we were, and Obama saying we're not going to go back, we're going to go forward.

dunedweller
dunedweller

I was surprised there was any delay in saying “Yes” when pundits began asking Obama spokespeople if we were better off than we were 4 years ago. At the very least the answer is “yes” simply because we aren’t beginning the recession again.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Must be quite a sight in Boston right now - an entire campaign staff with their own  Etch-A-Sketh pads shaking them all at once and seeing if any two look the same.

Willard can't afford to get into details. The more people hear the specifics, the more they will be turned off. However, I can think of one area where he can get more specific- issue the tax returns for the last 10 years.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

He can't.  There's a long game in play here.

The last thing he wants, even at the cost of his election, is to open up to scrutiny and possible correction all of the loopholes and financial games he and the other "1%ers" have been using. Releasing his tax returns would do just that.

He's still going to have to go back and interact with the others AFTER the election, win or lose. 

His best chance of releasing them would be if he thought he stood a "snowball's chance in h*ll" of being elected. The less chance he sees for that happening, the less chance he's going to let anyone see them.

jayburd2020
jayburd2020

Why is Mitt behind? It's because he isn't putting out enough specific proposals, like this one for "the Million Millionaire March" that was given exclusively to the funny FluffingtonPost. Enjoy: bit.ly/SQTN8F 

Pnnto
Pnnto

I don't have it in me to feel sorry for a guy with enough ego to run for the highest office for no other reason than "Hey, I ought to be President" but Willard is one sad candidate.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 Hey! You people, it's their time, remember??

Ungrateful peons - no wonder he wants to raise taxes on you!

Pnnto
Pnnto

I think you may be on to Willard's confusion. It's his time to be the nominee, not the President.

Just like four years from now it will be Ryan's turn.

outsider2011
outsider2011

 The only reason i think Jeb might go is because by then there would have been 8 years since the last bush.

And jeb is reputedly smarter than Dubya was.

And it was 8 years between GW and Dubya too.

I suspect Bush fatigue is what prevented Jeb from running this year; he knew people were sick of the Bush's.

Which is why Perry  had such a hard time, coming from Texas, looking like Bush, strutting like bush, and just as dumb as bush.

Pnnto
Pnnto

I get what you are saying but the republicans seem to be a "Next in line" kind of party.

None of the midgets that ran against Willard will be around in 2016 and as long as Ryan doesn't humiliate himslef in the VEEP debate I figured he will be next.

I think Christie is a lot of hype (boy do the media get off watching a bully) and NJ is having a terrible time.

Other than his last name you may be right about Jeb. 

outsider2011
outsider2011

I think in 4 years, the GOP will either be defunct, or will be reformed. I think Christie (if he can keep from going crazy) or Jeb might step in; either of those guys would be much harder to beat than the crop of boneheads the GOP put forward this year.

I don't think Ryan will look so good at the end of this cycle. But that's just my opinion.

outsider2011
outsider2011

Romney is just floundering.

And this is nothing more than a desperation move.

50 days before the election. 

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

He can play all the ads he wants...

His problem is that, now, there's a subtle "watermark" overlaying all of them that says "I really suck as a candidate/human being".

THAT'S the first message anyone sees and hears any more.

ERenger
ERenger

It's like an art store with tons of picture frames and no art. They put one empty frame on the wall, and decide it doesn't look right, and the answer is to "reframe" the same emptiness. 

anon76returns
anon76returns

The shameful thing is that there will always be a segment of the population seeking to buy the "art".

ERenger
ERenger

Romney tried the referendum approach, and it didn't work. 

So he tried the change approach, and it didn't work. 

So now he is going to try the referendum/change approach. 

Well, that obviously is doomed, because what he clearly needs is a change/referendum approach. 

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

By new strategy, I assume Romney means adopting a new set of platitudes that convey as much information as saying nothing at all. 

allthingsinaname
allthingsinaname

So we can look forward to a new approach each week, or each panic day? This is getting too silly. Soon you will begin to lose subscriptions for lack of news.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Willard promises to deliver (12 million jobs) what is already predicted and expected.

I guess bold is one word for it. I think chutzpa is more accurate.

jmac
jmac

Andrew Sullivan doesn't think Stevens and his new plan are so bold:  "But firing

 Wehner and Scully and McConnell? And then giving us Eastwood and that pabulum of an acceptance speech that had less punch and specificity than an ad for Depends? I'm sorry but those were, we're told, Stevens' decisions."

anon76returns
anon76returns

I liked the part about how Americans have always had a unique relationship with the future.  In Romney's case, it's the era in which he'll be saying something completely opposing the views that he currently expresses.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

Criticize the other guy for doing what you did (healthcare) and then try to take credit (if elected) for what was already going to happen as a result of Dem policies. Brilliant. Takes some brass, as Clinton said. The question is, will voters notice? Is anyone paying attention?

Austinite
Austinite

80% of the population won't have a clue. 

The other 20% are split between:

1)  Those that know and wouldn't be able to do anything about it (aka Democrats)

2)  A quarter who will cackle evily in glee about it (aka Sane-yet-Evil Republicans; aka Congressional Republicans)

3)  And a quarter who will think angels descended from heaven to bestow Romney with divine guidance to achieve magical numbers due to the righteousness of their battle against socialist communist heathens (aka Tea Party Republicans; aka INsAnE Republicans).

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

In other words, Romney is pledging to preserve the economic status quo. Which sorta makes sense. After all, it seems to be working for Obama.

Speaking of preserving the status quo, you forgot to mention that Romney's tax plan is actually going to make the debt problem even MORE severe than it already is under Obama.

jmac
jmac

I think he means the status quo of deficits - he's not suggesting how he'll pay for the mighty build-up of our military so no one will dare hit us.  He's W. - draw a red line and then be forced to attack and let the next guy worry about paying for it.   

outsider2011
outsider2011

 That's because deficits don't matter.

Unless you're a dem..

sacredh
sacredh

If only Mitt didn't suck as a candidate, person and speaker.

upmandown
upmandown

he could run as VP, if it wasn't "beneath him"

Austinite
Austinite

Was stuck in a line yesterday where two guys who apparently are still in college started talking politics behind me.

Guy #1:  "You voting for Obama?" 

Guy #2:  shakes head in negative. 

Guy #1:  "Yea, me neither!  Voting for Romney?"

Guy #2:  "Not sure."

Guy #1:  "Yea, I don't like him either."

And there is the crux of Romney's challenge.  Even folk who clearly aren't supporting Obama don't like him.

...

Btw, conversation then went on to how Guy #1 wished he know Spanish so he could explain to his Latino friends at UT (who are BILINGUAL, or they wouldn't be there...) how just because Republicans want to build a fence to keep all brown people out doesn't mean they don't like Legal Latinos.  Needless to say, neither Guy #1 or Guy #2 were Latinos.

And that is why Romney keeps losing the Latino vote.  Because !d!0ts like these two guys keep trying to explain to their Latino "friends" in non-insulting terms how just because they don't like all Latinos doesn't mean they don't like them.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Adam. Mitt’s very trick problems are his flip-floppery (a lifelong political problem) and his pandering to contradictory audiences, most notably the teavangelicals who rule the R’s yet inexplicably let him win the nomination (they could’ve backed someone else, anyone else, even Ron Paul) vs. everyone else (minorities, women, non-Archies). MegaPAC zillions of cash and floods of ads can’t fix a flawed campaign and a shapeshifting message / lack of .

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

Romney's new approach may bring him closer to the voters. Obama attacks Romney for his wealth. But Obama himself is extremely

wealthy and  how someone with vast wealth could connect to the American public,

especially the poor and the Latinos. Obama and his wife have been wealthy for a

number of years, and so  that's really

the issue. According to financial disclosure reports released by the White

House in May, the Obamas hold assets worth

between nearly $2.6 million and nearly $8.3 million. His early career is still

shrouded in mystery. Obama

deserves tougher scrutiny than he has been getting, especially of his

undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin

'Tony' Rezko, who was convicted of influence-peddling in Chicago. Obama has

also appointed Muslim Brotherhood men in key and sensitive posts. His lavish

loan of billions of dollars to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood when America itself

is reeling under the heavy burden of loans is a matter for scrutiny. In a fiery

speech Morsi said before an enthusiastic crowd that the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood

is “The Koran is our constitution.

The Prophet Muhammad is our leader. Jihad is our path. And death for the sake

of Allah is our most lofty aspiration."  

Obama’s lack of political foresight will soon make Morsi  another Khomeini and Egypt another Iran