Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Perfect Tone

Everybody knows that politics can be nasty business and managing a Presidential campaign is basically a giant PR endeavor. You have to make your opponent look bad while making yourself look great. And this goes way beyond policy issues, in fact policy positions are basically just things used to create slogans and catchphrases during the campaign.

That holds true for this year, but this year it is especially important because there are so few actual undecided/independent voters out there. I mean Romney has the Republicans and, with the selection of Paul Ryan as running mate, the conservative Tea Party votes sewn up. Obama has the Liberal Democrats and the special interest group voters(ethnic, gender, age etc). The biggest actual swing voter group are the moderates(Repubs and Dems) who swung heavily for Obama in 2008. The reasons for the swing are as numerous as they are various. Some wanted to be part of a movement, some had white guilt(it's true), some didn't like McCain, some fell for the DC outsider talk, some fell for the fiscally conservative rhetoric("I'll go line by line through the budget"), some just thought Sarah Palin was dumb.

Whatever the reason, a lot of these independents have soured on Obama. Mostly because they have felt or realize that they will feel the direct results of his policies. The task then is to make them feel comfortable voting for a Republican. Remember these are moderates who are not going to be motivated by positions on polarizing social issues, unless it is to be turned off by the passion and negativity(I'll get back to that in a sec).

Romney already has the first part down, the making himself look good, he knows what image he's going to project: business man who can fix the economy. But how to define Obama is the issue. Going hard negative on personal issues is NOT going to do it, things like calling him a socialist, Muslim, foreigner, an abortionist etc will just turn off moderates and drive them back to Obama - or else they will stay home. So what to do? Here is what HotAir is reporting will be Romney's stance:

"After dumping the “nice guy but failed President” argument in the overwhelming volume of nasty attacks from Barack Obama and his campaign, including insinuations of being a felon, a murderer, and a modern-day slaver, Romney tells Politico that the theme will return at the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa:"
Perfect! Portraying Obama as a guy with good intentions but who doesn't really know things work or how to get them done is exactly the right tone. First off, and most importantly, it puts the focus back on his record, which is terrible and the last thing Obama wants(Obamacare, environmental policy, tax the rich, debt). Second EVERYONE knows someone similar, a family member, a friend from high school or wherever who has good intentions but is just naive and/or a slacker who constantly puts up a facade to make themselves seem cool. Third, they can shine a light on his past, something that was not done in 2008 because everyone was obsessed with which newspaper Palin reads first.

Romney can portray him as not a good President, ignoring his jobs counsel, investing tax money in things he thinks will "save the planet", playing a lot of golf, giving the Queen an iPod(seriously?). Basically someone that it would be fun to have a drink with(or smoke some weed with...ahem!) but not someone you would let anywhere near your credit card.

Obama on the other hand has already shown how he will try to make Romney look bad. His main argument is going to be that Romney is a radical crazy person who is not fit to hold a job let alone be President. There's been the "war on women" (I will write a post on this very soon), his campaign manager implied he was a felon and hiding his tax returns, the advertisement that basically said he caused someone to die from cancer because his company laid off workers, and have used the terms "too extreme" and "too radical" over and over and over. And they aren't wasting any time, they have spent more money on tv ads than they have raised, despite a record number of fundraisers.

If Romney feels the need to go negative, he has plenty of Obama subordinates to hammer. Geithner will be one, so will Holder, and probably Valerie Garret and Stephanie Cutter. Those people represent the bureaucratic and political side of Obama that turns people off and feeds in to the anti-incumbent sentiment that is always present when things aren't going well.

So Romney is in a great position, he has a cash advantage, he will use the convention to hammer the "nice guy but failed President" message, and the contrast in tone will make it extremely tough for Obama to paint him as an extremist.