Romney Campaign Reportedly Planning ‘Aggressive’ Campaign Against Obama
The Romney Campaign is reportedly planning a more aggressive campaign against the President for the fall.
The New York Times reports that the Romney/Ryan campaign intends to unveil a more aggressive campaign against President Obama once they shift into General Election mode after the Republican convention:
Mitt Romney is heading into his nominating convention with his advisers convinced he needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters and to persuade them that he is the best answer to their economic frustrations.
Having survived a summer of attacks but still trailing the president narrowly in most national polls, Mr. Romney’s campaign remains focused intently on the economy as the issue that can defeat Mr. Obama. But in a marked change, Mr. Romney has added a harder edge to a message that for most of this year was focused on his business and job-creation credentials, injecting volatile cultural themes into the race.
Some elements of that revised strategy will be evident at the Republican convention, which was set to open here on Monday but will be delayed until Tuesday because of safety concerns from Tropical Storm Isaac. The Romney campaign was hastily rearranging the schedule, but officials said the convention would still amplify the conservative arguments against the president with speakers like Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
“We will absolutely be able to get our message out,” said Russ Schriefer, a senior campaign adviser. “We still have an opportunity to tell the story of the last four years of how President Obama has failed the country.”
The strategic shift in the campaign message that has been unfolding in recent weeks reflects a conclusion among Mr. Romney’s advisers that disappointment with Mr. Obama’s economic stewardship is not sufficient to propel Mr. Romney to victory on its own.
Republican strategists said that many middle-class voters had proved reluctant to give up entirely on Mr. Obama, and that they still needed to be convinced that Mr. Romney would look out for their interests.
Steven J. Law, the president of the conservative group American Crossroads, said some swing voters in focus groups had helped explain why support for Mr. Obama had not collapsed despite his poor marks on the economy.
“They’re somewhat seduced by the thought, ‘If the guy had more time, maybe he’d be able to turn it around,’ ” said Mr. Law, whose group is spending tens of millions of dollars to change that.
In part, this change in strategy is based on something I’ve been pointing out repeatedly this summer, most recently late last week. Namely, the fact that President Obama has more paths to an Electoral College victory than Governor Romney does. In order to change that, the campaign needs to find a way to attract those swing state voters that are likely to decide this election:
The battleground map has remained remarkably stable in recent months, which leaves Mr. Obama with more paths to winning 270 electoral votes and places a burden on Mr. Romney to break through in states where he so far has not. But Republicans suddenly see encouraging signs in Wisconsin after the selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as his running mate. Mr. Romney’s chances hinge to a large degree on running up his advantage among white voters in swing states who show deep strains of opposition to Mr. Obama but do not yet trust Mr. Romney to look out for their interests, Republican strategists say.
Many of those voters are economically disaffected, and the Romney campaign has been trying to reach them with appeals built around an assertion that Mr. Obama is making it easier for welfare recipients to avoid work. The Romney campaign is airing an advertisement falsely charging that Mr. Obama has “quietly announced” plans to eliminate work and job training requirements for welfare beneficiaries, a message Mr. Romney’s aides said resonates with working-class voters who see government as doing nothing for them.
The moves reflect a campaign infused with a sharper edge and overtones of class and race. On Friday, Mr. Romney said at a rally that no one had ever had to ask him about his birth certificate, and Mr. Ryan invoked his Catholicism and love of hunting. Democrats angrily said Mr. Romney’s remark associated him with the fringe “birther” camp seeking falsely to portray Mr. Obama as not American.
The convention will focus on a dual fire-Obama-hire-Romney message that will be presented in an abbreviated fashion from Tuesday through Thursday. Party leaders said Saturday evening that the themes of the convention would be preserved, despite the disruption from Tropical Storm Isaac. Through videos, speeches and carefully staged programming, the convention will amplify what will constantly be described as Mr. Obama’s failures, with a focus on accusations that he has undercut middle-class workers and small-business owners.
But with Ann Romney, Mr. Romney’s wife, taking the stage on Tuesday night, the Republican gathering will be as much about presenting Mr. Romney as a warm-blooded family man who understands the tribulations of everyday people. The campaign, after spending months arguing that the family’s Mormon faith was off limits, invited speakers from Mr. Romney’s church to testify how he had helped them when they were in need.
Those concurrent themes reflect a realization by strategists inside the Romney campaign and its allies at outside groups in recent weeks: Republicans need to do more than critique Mr. Obama’s economic record for Mr. Romney to win. With the race entering its final, decisive phase, strategists on both sides agree that Mr. Obama maintains a razor-thin edge.
“For undecided voters, Obama’s job performance weighs more heavily than Mitt’s current image,” said Neil Newhouse, the pollster for Mr. Romney. “They can measure what Obama has done, and his job performance numbers among those voters are extraordinarily weak.”
Central to the weeks ahead, strategists from both parties said, will be the perceptions of voters in battleground states like Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Both sides agree that Mr. Romney’s choice of Mr. Ryan has given Mr. Romney a new opportunity in Wisconsin. But, even Republicans say, the bigger electoral prize of Ohio, as of now seems to be tilting in Mr. Obama’s direction.
That last point is true, but it’s worth noting that there are some signs that appear to suggest that Romney may be breaking through in the Buckeye State. The most recently released poll from the state has Obama ahead by only three points, a lead inside the margin of error, and leaving the RCP average at +2.0 in Obama’s favor. Additionally, the chart shows, Romney’s numbers have been inching upward the last several weeks:
Not yet included in these numbers is a new Columbus Dispatch poll which essentially has the race tied at 45% for both Presidential candidates, and, most surprisingly, shows the Senate race between Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel tied at 44% each. I’d still say that Ohio looks like an easier win for Obama than Romney at the moment, which is a problem for Romney on many levels, but a Republican victory there is not at all beyond the realm of possibility. The question is whether this new strategy is going to do the trick.
After all, as the authors correctly point out, one part of the Romney campaign’s new strategy involves an attack on supposed changes in welfare work requirements that Republicans claim that a recently announced Administration policy change effectively ends the work requirement that became part of the welfare program when Presidenti Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Bill in to law in 1006. As I pointed out several weeks ago, that simply isn’t true and it’s fairly clear that Romney’s ad on the issue is inherently deceptive. Conor Friedersdorf has also pointed out the inaccuracies inherent in the Romney campaigns welfare claims. Romney and Ryan are also making claims about how the Affordable Care Act that Politifact has rated as only “Half True.” Of course, they said the same thing about Barack Obama’s claims about the Ryan Plan’s impact on Medicare, so that’s mostly a wash. Politics being what it is, though, these kind of subtleties typically don’t get absorbed by the electorate. As unfortunate as it is, the Romney campaign likely has hit upon a powerful message with the welfare and Medicare ad claims, and they will continue to exploit them as long as they can. Of course, the Obama campaign will continue to do the same with its own claims about the Ryan Plan, along with its endorsement by silence of the absurdities that have come out of groups like Priorities USA with respect to Mitt Romney’s time at Bain, it’s really all quite distressing.
The thing I’ve got to wonder, though, is what the campaign really means by this new aggressive strategy. I tend not to agree with those who claim that Mitt Romney’s joke about his birth certificate in Michigan the other day was some kind of a wink and a nod at the birthers. It was a joke, a dumb one I agree, but more akin to his line about the trees in Michigan being the “right height” than an attempt to appeal to an idea that he has explicitly rejected in publish any number of times. Nonetheless, Romney hasn’t shied way from embracing other bizarre conservative ideas about the President, such as the largely debunked idea that he has gone around the world “apologizing for America,” or that he has exhibited a weak foreign policy. I would expect we’ll see more stuff like that in the coming weeks. Whether it will work or not is, of course, another story.
This “new strategy” is recalling to my mind Dole’s promise to “take off the gloves” against Clinton in the second debate of ’96, or McCain’s promise to let loose on Obama near the end of the campaign in ’08.
In short, I doubt it’ll differ much from what we’ve been already seeing.
Anything to distract us from the Romney-Ryan Plan to privatize Medicare, lower taxes, run wider deficits and diminish the middle class.
Romney can’t run on his gubernatorial record, his business record, or his policy proposals.
Blind, inchoate rage seems to be his only option.
Shocking that a rather obvious and clumsily executed dog whistle attack was met with a chorus of shrugs here. The audience obviously knew what was going on, but you don’t. Pretty daft.
@Rick Almeida: I think the rage and emphasis on the president’s “Otherness” will be left to the independent Rove types. RR will stand back, emphasize the economy and say, “Who, us?” to the sleaze that will be coming out.
Last election Presidential cycle I didn’t donate money to the Obama campaign until the night of Sarah Palin’s convention speech (I did hit the send button on the donation almost before she was done talking though). Up until that point, I was a “lean” voter. I was probably going to vote for Obama, but casting my ballot for McCain instead was honestly not totally outside the realm of possibility.
If by “agressive”, the Romney campaign is going to go around for the next two month saying more things that my Conservative friends are going to absolutely LOVE; then I suspect that while they may be successful in swaying some low information voters, they’ll risk alienated at least as many (if not more) from the middle, who do pay attention.
Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that the New York Times allegedly reporting about a Republican campaign is tantamount to the New York Yankees opining about the Boston Red Sox’s trading strategies. Ultimately the issue is not whether Team Romney gets “aggressive” or stays passive. The issue is the precise issue or issues on which they focus their attentions. If “aggressive” means loudly bashing Obama 24/7 over the economy then that makes sense. If however it means throwing multiple darts at various boards then it doesn’t make sense, no matter how much money they spend doing it.
@Tsar Nicholas: They tried bashing Obama on the economy and it simply doesn’t work. People’s perception of the economy is already set in and barring something major happening, the perception isn’t going to change.
Mitt’s team is basically going back to the way they ran against Frothy, Perry, and Newt in the primaries. Blitz Obama with heavy negative ads in the swing states and hope to drown him…..the problem is ad spending this late in the game is irrelevant and the money is better used on ground work, which Obama has a big advantage over Romney.
The new strategy? Let us turn to the wisdom of George Wallace, former governor of Alabama, after his defeat in an earlier race:
Mr. Romney has already begun race-baiting with his welfare ads, and he race-baited with his birther “joke,” and he’ll keep it up with Donald Trump.
What other choice does Romney have? He can’t run on his governorship. He can’t run on Bain. He can’t run on specific plans: he has none. There is quite simply no reason whatsoever to elect Mitt Romney except that he is not Barack Obama.
How do you make that point crystal clear, especially to GOP base voters who are leery of Romney? You remind them that Romney may be a rich, silver-spoon, Etch-A-Sketch fraud of a human being, who is also a bishop in a religion most Christians think is some kind of cult, but he is undeniably white.
They need a way to “attach” voters to this unlikable man. That attachment is by race. So, we’re going to go there, indeed, have already started to go there.
Shorter Romney: ” We’ll lie and race-bait even more than before”.
This might actually work because this is pretty much a base election now. If Romney can get enough of the base out by whipping them up into a frenzy against the socialist, welfare-loving Kenyan usurper, then it won’t matter if he turns off the few left in the middle.
And the sad thing is we’ll have Doug and James playing their roles as “reasonable” Republicans who provide cover and defense for all the nastiness that will ooze out over the next few months.
OK, guys–let’s say that Romney does manage to turn out sufficient numbers of Teh Base to get into the White House. What does everyone think will happen?
I suspect he will be at the beck and call of the wildest members of the socons and the neo-cons. Which means get rid of the health care act, which means we go back to the old system. Hope a lot of diabetic and obese people like shelling out for all of their own health care, because quite a lot of health insurance companies won’t cover them.
Cut taxes but increase spending on the military. This will probably be coupled with cuts in all of the safety nets as well as basic research funding. Which means a lot of scientists and engineers will be looking for jobs outside the US. Nice opportunity for countries like Singapore and China to pick up advances in R&D at cheap prices. (Any country that wants to get a leg up on future technology could strategicqally make a really good move at this point.) Our universities will probably hang on for a bit, but don’t be surprised if at some point they move abroad as well.
Bones thrown to the so-cons: reinstatement of DOMA, packing the Supreme Court with rightists so Roe-Wade is overturned. I don’t think there’s enough support for a Human Life Amendment (it’s really hard to amend the Constitution), but the socons will be doing their best to get the equivalent passed in all states. Wonder if they’re going to start instituting pregrancy checks a la Romania?
Getting rid of SS, Medicaid, and Medicare. The latter two will be turned into voucher programs and/or dumped back on the states. I can see states starting to pass their own restrictions: people ineligible to receive state Medicaid unless they were residents of the state for 15 years. A lot of Americans are going to get the care of their parents dumped back on them when state/government funds for nursing homes run out. But the rich will have their tax cuts….
I suspect that the US will be seeing a Romney presidency as the start of the final decline of the US. Libertarianism is a great idea to play with when you’re 17, but it’s a really dumb philosophy to try to run a country on.
Well, Romney has already shown a great willingness to lie, cheat, steal, and do anything necessary, including spending like a drunken sailor, to capture the presidency. What other nastiness does he have left that he hasn’t unleashed yet. I’m so thrilled to be living in a swing state this year–I’m sure I’ll get a chance to see it all. Ugh!
Those in the Obama Campaign have already shown themselves to be able to fight back…this isn’t 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, or 2004, so those in the Romney Campaign can get as dirty as they want but they should be prepared to receive as good, if not better, an attack as they deliver…
@An Interested Party:
I think that Republicans had, over most of the past 40 years or so, grown accustomed to a Democratic Party that would not fight back. Clinton showed them the way out of that mode – go toe-to-toe, strike back.
Maybe, but I always think the real problem with the GOP, and Romney by extension, has nothing to do with race. Basically, the Republican party is a scam.
Kevin Drum the other day, writing on the GOP’s culture war schtick:
The GOP needs to ““attach” voters to this unlikable man” not because he’s white and they’re not, but because he’s selling them a bunch of stuff they don’t want.
Hurts when they won’t play the game the way you want them to, doesn’t it?
Candidate to constituents: “What do you call 6 million dead Jews? A good start.”
Constituents: “That was a pander to racists.”
James and Doug: “It was a joke!”
Granted the Romney “joke” is not as repugnant as the one I wrote above, but then we’re reduced to discussing degrees of repugnance, aren’t we?
I am guessing that with this aggressive campaign mode by MItt, which more or less is just a desperate campaign mode…we, the public, should expect even more whining from Romney on how he thinks what the Obama campaign is doing isn’t fair?
I mean wasn’t it Romney just a month or two ago that said what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? Oh, wait he was ONLY talking about Obama, my bad…
OR how about how his past in every aspect that should be important, isn’t? That his past should not be questioned or scrutinized or even be known to all potential voters?
Which, when you think about it, is really funny(or pathetic, or both). Considering that the “Anyone but Obama” crowd has been complaining for the last four years that Obama wasn’t vetted enough. YET, at the drop of the hat, are willing to vote for Romney. A person who wants nothing to do with the vetting process. I guess that doesn’t matter tho, right?
Obama is a much better politician than Romney will ever be, even tho Romney has been doing this for longer than Obama has.
Romney is getting desperate, Obama knows this. Heck, anyone with their head not firmly placed in their anus, knows this.
Romney can “bash” Obama over the economy as loudly and as frequently as all his millions will allow: it amounts to nothing so long has he’s got absolutely no ideas of his own to put on the table.
There’s got to be some disappointment in the way things have played out for Mr. Romney. Ever since the Obamacare decision it’s been a succession of small but consistent losses. It’s as if the President’s campaign has gotten inside of Mr. Romney’s decision loop, and it looks like flailing.
On the new campaign vigor: You can’t spell ‘combative’ without
Funny, even as Romney is promising an aggressive campaign, he is again expressing pride in Romneycare.
Sort of a tacit admission that Ryan has not changed the dynamic of the race, which was not favoring Romney…
Of course he is, it’s an even numbered day. The hedge is that it only works when executed by a benevolent yet thorough vulture capitalist overseeing the best and the brightest.
“Not yet included in these numbers is a new Columbus Dispatch poll which essentially has the race tied at 45% for both Presidential candidates, and, most surprisingly, shows the Senate race between Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel tied at 44% each. I’d still say that Ohio looks like an easier win for Obama than Romney at the moment”
OK Let me guess: “Your contention that “Ohio looks like an easier win for Obama than Romney at the moment” is based on what??? Because you’re a Liberal who believes that a rigged NY Times/CBS poll showing Obama leading by 10 is legit? You should be forewarned that those polls are based on these bogus samples which have a ridiculous Dem 10%+ bias over Repubs.
The fact is the far left cranks that have taken over this forum should view this OH poll as a very disturbing development for Obama. First off, it continues a pattern of Romney gaining or surging past Obama in OH – sans the juiced up NY Times/CBS polls which oversamples Liberals to push their agenda. More ominous for Obama, in a massive sample of close to 2000 OH citizens, he is polling in the 45% range, a dangerous place for an incumbent who is not likely to get the majority of the late deciders.
So push your Liberal meme that OH is in the bag all you want based on your bogus NY Times polls. Obama is looking like a loser in OH as it trends away from him.
The lyingest campaign ever is going to what? Lie more? Sorry…you can’t.
Anyone who accuses Doug, of all people, of having some kind of liberal bias is far more delusional than anyone else around here…
Will Obama be strapped to the roof of the campaign bus in effigy?
I don’t think Romney will say N*gger, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he mentioned that 30 years ago, Obama couldn’t even be a Mormon. What a long way we’ve come (wink).
@Smooth Jazz: If you consider us “far left” you have demonstrated the delusion the Republican party has glommed onto. None of us have talked at all above about a) communism b)nationalization of private property c) revolution by the workers.
Do you idiots even know what “far left” means? I suggest a few history books.
P.S. At the end I suspect the US will have to go to some sort of single-payer system for health care. The system we have at present is just too inefficient. Note that if we were able to fix our health care system so that it was along the lines of any of the European health care systems, we would be freeing up a lot of money for the average American.
P.P.S. Health insurance isn’t like car insurance or house insurance because we all know at some time in our lives we need it. Unfortunately, the providing of the service (costs thereof) go directly against the balance sheet of any health insurance company. Which is why we get all the cherry-picking, murder by spreadsheet, etc., etc. and so forth.
I’d prefer a NHS that provided a reasonable level of service at cheap cost, along with health care rationing. If you wanted more, you would purchase it from the private health care industry. And we’re going to have to get over this assumption that the world owes us whatever health care we want, no matter how expensive it turns out to be.
@An Interested Party: Doug does make an effort to work with facts and reason. That’s sufficient to be condemned as a liberal in some circles. Doug does, however, seem touchingly naive about Romney’s birth certificate “joke”. I guess it’s not a dog whistle unless there’s someone who can’t hear it.
I peg some pepole as intellectually moderate and emotionally right. They veer right to support the team and because the “cliff” to their left, at the moderate center, is too steep.
Look at something like taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Do you raise them because that will reduce the deficit with minimal hardship (rational) or do you reject them as class warfare (emotional)?
People who accept the rational argument are RINOs and have fallen off the cliff. People who can accept the emotion of the thing are still in.
BTW, I think this is important news:
Governor Romney has a very flexible view of the world.
So the Romney campaign wants to sway the middle class voters by reminding them of Obama’s “failed” policies while making their case known that they really do care about the middle class. What policies does Romney have, IN GENERAL, that would suggest he even understood the middle class plight? Not asking anything in detail or even specific – just IN GENERAL.
Was it in his decision to let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt during the time absolutely no one was willing to invest? Perhaps he wants them to believe that further decreasing taxes on the “job creators” will finally spur that trickle-down wealth that has only proven to be a myth at this point. Maybe he will take the “I know what is better for you” approach evident in all his union bashing rhetoric in the past. After all, to accuse President Obama for looking out for special (union) interest would also suggest that he would indeed NOT support perhaps the single biggest reason middle class families with fair wages exist today.
How could a person, who lived in a privileged bubble his entire life, honestly state that he knows what is better for middle class Americans? This relationship between elected officials and common voters has always been problematic – perhaps never so glaring as in the relationship between the middle class and Gov. Romney today.
The Romney campaign’s emphasis on Obama’s supposed plan to make welfare more available is disquieting. It suggests an appeal to racism of the type perfected by Lee Atwater and by whoever created the Willie Horton ad. For some reason James Joyner and Doug Mataconis can’t see this. It’s a failing on their part, and one I think they’ll regret.
Possibly, but there is the broader issue of “the undeserving poor” which has had traction since the Tea Party surge.
How touchingly naive!
I suggest some reading about all the ways Repubs say “Nig#er” without saying “Nig#er.” It is astonishing.
And this is just current stuff, ignoring the long, rich and disgusting history of the Repub Southern Strategy, i.e. how to get the racist vote while maintaining plausible deniability with people who are too naive to realize what you are saying, while being heard loud and clearly by racists.
Please, educate yourself. Really, as a middle aged white woman, I’m concerned about your lack of information. This is really, really important. Why do you think that Romney has 0% of the black vote? This astonishing number is extremely easy to understand, when you can translate what Repubs are actually saying. And blacks can.
Hell, even I can. And it makes me want to vomit.
@john personna: I would agree. After reading, say, Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain and George Lakoff, I tend to see it as having a conservative personality (I think they would say psychology or framing, not personality), but unable to refrain from some intellectual analysis. Not my line of territory, but as I understand Burke, it would be easy to be a Burkean conservative and still be fact based, and perhaps Doug and James are. But in the US conservatism has evolved into a radicalism with no intellectual underpinnings, hence the inability to find respectable conservative intellectuals who actually speak for or have any influence on conservative policy.
I usually put it that many people take politics as religion. On the left, but far more on the right; they believe what they believe because they believe. And they believe that if we behave virtuously, good things will happen. Cause and effect, well “how can you know what will happen?”, quoting a friend of mine. I don’t think Doug and James can blind themselves to cause and effect.
I think more discussion of your “cliff” on the left would be instructive. What is it about Democrats that is so off putting to moderate Republicans? Why do Friedman and others keep looking for a third party that sounds to me just like the Democrats?
If you’ve not read Mooney, it is instructive and depressing. Depressing because I read it with an eye to, ‘how do you nudge conservatives into accepting plain facts?’ Mooney’s answer is – you can’t.
Friedman is widely mocked by the Dems (Google “The Mustache of Understanding’). And the policies he pushes are not Dem policies. They are merely laughable. And again, widely mocked.
Friedman and the Third Way folks are rich, white, clueless Very Serious People who live in a bubble and have stupid ideas that are impossible to implement. They see themselves as the most reasonable people on Earth, and cannot understand why everyone won’t just listen to them and do what they are told like their servants.
I’m sure they would prefer an Hereditary Aristocracy.
@Smooth Jazz: I remembering a lot of similar posts in 2008..