Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The New Romney Campaign

Ezra Klein on The new Romney campaign "Chris Matthews and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had a … tense exchange on Morning Joe [yesterday] regarding the racial dimensions of Mitt Romney’s  birther joke and welfare ads."

"This isn’t where the Romney campaign hoped it would be in August. Recall that Team Romney began with three premises for how to win this election. The first was to make this a referendum, not a choice. The second was to keep it focused on the economy. The third was to bow to Obama’s essential likability by treating him as a decent guy who is simply in over his head.

In recent weeks, the Romney campaign has jettisoned every single one of those premises. In Paul Ryan, Romney found perhaps the only vice presidential candidate whose selection would immediately make the election a choice rather than a referendum. In focusing on Medicare cuts and changes to the welfare program, he’s taken the campaign almost entirely off the economy. And in moving toward ”a more combative footing,” he’s abandoned his effort to try to avoid alienating voters who basically like the president.

Perhaps each and every one of these moves is a genius strategic decision. But the Romney campaign presumably had good reasons for adopting those premises in the first place. That they’re changing strategy so rapidly and noticeably at this late point in the campaign does not suggest they’re particularly confident about where they stand. And as you can see in the Matthews clip, and this Tom Edsall column, and the general furor over Romney’s “birther” joke, this new strategy comes with significant risks for blowback."

Ed Kilgore adds Romney’s Big Pivot "So the Romney campaign has been pulled in its current direction by a distrustful party ‘base’ as much as it’s been pushed by whatever they’re seeing in the numbers and the focus groups. They’re beginning to run precisely the kind of campaign that the activist base thought John McCain should have run against Obama in 2008, but which McCain personally refused to carry out.

What’s different between the McCain and Romney campaigns is that the latter does not exhibit the sort of morally based friction against questionably ethical tactics that the former occasionally fell prey to, infuriating the Palin Wing of the party that wanted holy war 24-7. When the Romney campaign decides to change direction, it’s capable of doing so instantly, with no time wasted on scruples.

So it’s possible we’ll see future pivots by Team Mitt between now and November 6. But now that ‘the base’ has gotten its first taste of bloody red meat from the Romney campaign, it’s doubtful they’ll be happy with anything less. "

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