I apologize in advance as this is a bit of a rant, Save Jerseyans, but what does Mitt Romney think he is doing?!
Campaigns, or successful ones anyway, are all about contrast. You need to tell voters why you are great, the other guy is not great, and how you being there will be better for everyone involved.
Here is an example of what you should never do, from the pages of The Washington Post.
At an open-press fundraiser in Atlanta on Wednesday, Mitt Romney defended himself against Democratic attacks by saying that both he and President Obama care about poor and middle-class Americans.”
He cannot be serious?
Let’s break this down slowly….
People generally like President Obama. They do not think he is doing a good job, his job approval rating has been below 50 percent for a long time now, but they like him personally.
Romney’s campaign has been scared to attack Obama in any meaningful way on anything other than his economic failings. They claim that to do so would alienate people who think the President is a likable guy. This is where Romney’s whole “he’s a good guy who is in over his head” mantra comes from.
So their response to this problem is to equate Romney’s care for the middle class with Obama’s and leave it as a difference in policy. The problem is that it makes Obama tragically more likable. As if he were trying so hard to do well but things just didn’t go his way, just like an average guy.
That is a losing strategy through and through. What Romney should be doing is making it clear that while President Obama acts like he cares, his policies show that he does not care. Anyone who argues redistributive economics clearly has disdain for the middle class and sees the poor as a voting bloc rather than a demographic needing a hand.
Romney supports pro-economic growth policies that would boost economic activity and lead to more jobs. The message needs to be that Obama is just plain bad for the middle class. Not that he cares. Not that he is misguided. Just that he is wrong.
Only contrast, no more compliments.
If Romney does not begin to draw contrast in the coming weeks, especially in the debates that will surely reach millions of Americans, this election is as good as over.