Opinion | Romney needs game changer to gain support in campaign
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 01:10
It’s no secret that while Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been an absolute mess, President Barack Obama’s has often slid under the radar, effectively mobilizing micro-targeted constituencies and shooting gaping holes in Mr. Romney’s basic rationale to be president.
The President’s campaign team (with a clear assist from the mainstream news media) has put him in a prime position to win re-election. From their well put together convention to their early take down of Mr. Romney’s business experience, and after running one of the greatest campaigns in the history of modern politics in 2008 team Obama has proven its ability again this time.
Now it’s time for the man himself to perform when the red light goes on three more times and its likely that he will have four more years.
The election is trending in Obama’s direction and the debates are his chance to clearly seal the deal.
Chance number one comes in the first debate. And like the election as a whole, the president must stay on the offensive, disqualify the elusive Romney and he will win.
Unfortunately for the president, brevity is the key to presidential debates. And brevity and Barack Obama go together about as well as peanut butter and soy sauce.
Good preparation can counteract this issue, but President Obama is historically resistant to strong overtures from his staff because he thinks he’s so much smarter than them.
Which leads us to his next big issue. President Obama is often highly condescending. In 2008, he famously told Hillary Clinton she was “likable enough” and similar words could cross his lips to the unlikable plutocrat Mr. Romney.
Then comes the expectations game, which tends to be a hard fought race to the bottom.
However this time team Romney has made the inexplicably foolish decision to raise expectations so high that anything but Abraham Lincoln’s performance against Stephen Douglas will be a disappointment.
On the other side, team Obama has lowered expectations so much that you might think this former law professor was lucky to hack his way through his bachelor’s degree.
Though it is true that while rhetorical mastery has always been a strongsuit of the president’s, 30-second responses aren’t. But he is still a capable performer in this format.
Mr. Romney clearly needs a game changer in debate one. His swing state poll numbers are slowly sinking and he’s yet to generate any degree of excitement.
There’s even talk that conservative outside groups might begin to pull their money and shift it to key House and Senate races if he does not perform up to snuff Wednesday.
“The Gov”, as his staff calls him, can create this necessary game changer but it will be a delicate dance, and what he really needs is a monumental (and highly unlikely) gaffe from the President.
Mr. Romney has no natural political skill but he’s smart and his staff can feed him enough lines that could come off incredibly well.
This is the most important night of Mitt Romney’s political career, and though Obama’s was clearly the night he was elected president, it’s an opportunity for both to shift the conversation in this race.
For Romney it could be the amazing fall turnaround; for Obama it could be the solidification of the Mitt Romney as Bob Dole storyline that has run on the periphery of the media’s coverage this entire cycle.
Which is more likely? Probably the Romney as Dole storyline, but the media loves a good story and the turnaround storyline is much more exciting.
The most fun part of the debate will certainly be the discussion of health care. When both candidates will look like they would rather be anywhere but standing before the American people, and give their most cynically pathetic answers of the whole night.
My hope is that moderator Jim Lehrer, the dean of the debate-moderating crowd, will push the candidates hard to go past the platitudes, answer the questions and talk squarely with the American people.
Don’t count on it. But it would be nice; and Lehrer, who has promised he’s moderated his last debate each cycle since 2004 then keeps coming back, is one of the most likely journalists to fill this important role.
No matter what happens tomorrow night, the presidential debate will certainly serve their important purpose of informing the voters on the issues, and let them decide who has what it takes to be the president.