Romney Campaign Tries To Change Subject, Goes On Offensive
The Romney campaign is trying to shift the narrative.
After a week or more of being battered by questions about Bain Capital and tax returns, the Romney campaign is out this morning with a two-pronged effort to change the narrative by going on the offensive against the President on two separate grounds. It started last night when the campaign leaked an ad that has apparently started running in states like Iowa that hits the Obama campaign for running a negative campaign:
The Romney campaign today expanded its line of attack against President Barack Obama for running negative advertisements.
A new 30-second TV commercial features TV footage of three political journalists/news analysts talking about the differences between Obama’s current campaign and his inspirational message four years ago.
Romney aides said in a news release today: “It seems like a lifetime ago that candidate Obama was talking about hope and change. Today, after four years of broken promises, President Obama is left to simply run ‘negative’ and ‘inaccurate’ ads.”
Here’s the ad:
Romney continued this line of attack in an appearance on Fox & Friends this morning. The ad is receiving some positive reviews on the right, not surprisingly, but I’ve never been convinced that these types of ads really accomplish anything. After awhile, complaining about “negative” campaigning tends to be something that voters tune out. Rahm Emanuel actually put it quite well on ABC News This Week when he told the Romney camp to “stop whining.” Politics ain’t beanbag, and your opponent isn’t going to play nicely. Yes, it’s true that the Obama campaign is focusing on the Bain issue in part to distract attention from the economy, but the way to deal with that is not to act like a toddler who had their toy taken away at the playground, but to hit back on the economy, and keep hitting back. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past several days, if you spend your time talking about what your opponent is saying, you are losing the narrative. That includes ads like this that essentially boil down to nothing more than “Mommy that boy is being mean to me.” It’s politics, it’s tough. Deal with it, or don’t play the game.
The Romney campaign’s second line of attack is potentially more effective, and strikes back at the Obama campaign’s weekend ad by including a bit of Presidential singing:
In an effort to label President Obama a typical politician, the Romney campaign released an online video going after the president’s relationship with his donors.
The video shows reports of alleged cronyism between Obama and his top donors, as the president sings Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” On Saturday, the Obama campaign ran an ad of its own displaying Romney singing “America the Beautiful.”
With a struggling economy, the Romney campaign is attempting to paint Obama as a candidate focused on the “donor class,” rather than the middle class.
“While middle-class Americans are suffering in the Obama economy, President Obama’s donors and supporters are ‘doing fine,'” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. “The President has spent billions of taxpayer dollars on political payoffs, but failed to create the millions of jobs he promised. Americans deserve a president who is concerned with creating jobs for the middle class, not rewarding campaign donors. It’s Chicago-style economics, and it’s not working.”
After being hounded for the last several works over Romney’s time at Bain Capital, the campaign is trying to change the conversation and go on the offensive.
“President Obama, who ran on all this hope and change and talk about changing Washington in 2008, failed to change Washington,” Romney senior advisor Kevin Madden said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “[He] has totally obsessed with talking about the past, and actually ceded the argument of what we’re going to do to fix our economy in the future.”
Here’s the ad:
This is actually fairly well-done ad, and based on the appearances by Romney surrogates on television today, it appears to be the major theme they will be trying to push as we go into the week. I’m not sure it will work, though. This is a theme that the GOP has used before, of course, since its at the heart of the whole criticism of the loan programs that the Obama Administration used to give money to companies like Solyndra, which happened to be part-owned by a major Obama bundler. There have been other examples, less well known than Solyndra, of the same pattern of Obama campaign cronies getting access to government programs, perhaps the most notable being Jeffrey Immelt’s General Electric. Of course, the GOP is hardly innocent in the crony capitalism game itself so it’s kind of hypocritical for them to be making this argument. As I said above, though, this is politics and complaining that life is unfair is rather pointless. Will this attack work? It’s hard to say, but you can expect to see more of this from the Romney campaign as the week progresses.
All the Obama campaign has to do is counterpoint with od/ed’s about why Detroit should go bankrupt, or soundbites of how much Mitt likes to fire people. I mean really, if the former governor’s campaign was truly serious about running as a “middle class” candidate, they should have been on messaging on that point since day one.
So the two strategies are
– look, Obama is like me!
Don’t watch it. Just listen to it.
It sounds good. Now go listen to the Romney singing ad.
Now imagine you just got up to go get a beer….
Remember, middle-class is not auto workers, it is families struggling on $250k per year.
Political silly season continues, unabated.
Sorry, but the Bain attacks are not meant to distract attention from the economy. As much as the Republicans want the argument to be “anybody would be better on the economy than Obama”, in a two party system the alternative has to be considered, so “Romney would be better on the economy than Obama” has to be the debate.
His Bain experience is Romney’s primary claim to expertise on the economy. If he can’t sell the idea that what he learned with Bain can translate to the national economy, then he loses that claim. But, he’s not even trying to make that argument. Instead, he’s denying his association with Bain. So, without Bain, what can Romney use to claim economic expertise – his personal fortune? Can he tout how he turned his inherited wealth into even greater wealth? He’d have to show his tax returns and he appears loathe to do that as well.
Romney’s over a barrel and whining about it is his only recourse.
I guess we can add copycat to Romney’s CV.
Does his campaign have any original ideas?
Absolutely correct – but even more than you say. The Bain attacks don’t just detract from Romney’s economic qualifications, they underline a major reason for the terrible economy – vulture capitalism that makes its money not by building factories, employing people, and producing goods, but by gutting business, destroying jobs, and tearing down what others have accomplished. And that’s an important thing – such business plans are called “capitalism” because they make a few people filthy rich, but they actually are detrimental to any society they’re used in.
And more importantly: it’s all Mitt Romney knows how to do in business. Heck, it’s all the Republican Party knows how to do; destroy other things to make money for themselves. That’s not entrepreneurialism – it’s just destruction.
I have real doubts that “crony capitalism” will be an effective attack for a campaign that is headed by a guy (under there own narrative) who received $100,000 a year for three years to have no involvement with the company that he was CEO of. (Plus “crony capitalism” is such an elite term, don’t think it will play well in Des Moines.)
It’s actually at least $100,000/year.
The fact that this is a brief webad and not a real tv ad buy implies a lack of commitment to the attack IMO. Probably smart too as an obvious rejoinder to this is that another place the Romney campaign is breaking new ground by ignoring previous disclosure precedent is by not releasing the names of his major bundlers.
Ouch. Anthony Luzzatto Gardner twists the knife at Bloomberg:
Friday’s slew of Mitt interviews shows that his campaign was thrown off-balance at least temporarily by the Bain attacks. If Romney can get Obama to set aside an afternoon for a similar bout of media blood-staunching, then his ads can be deemed effective.
But on a lot of fronts – women, blacks, Latinos, gays – the Obama campaign has proved able to put Romney at least slightly on the defensive and force a temporary slowing of his campaign to refocus Romeny’s message to those same groups. And now the Obama campaign is targeting its widest front yet – those Americans who do not think fondly of the financial system.
To the extent that Romney keeps getting knocked off-kilter, Obama is having a good summer.
Agreed. It is an attempt to change the topic, but I doubt it will work.
Obama and his crew aren’t stupid – they are going to keep beating the drum this entire week, as we head into the olympics and get a short break from all this.
Does anyone believe that Romney is going to be able to avoid releasing his tax returns, at this point? That it won’t look pretty dang suspicious for him to do that? I think he’s pretty much going to have to, and so should just get it over with.
So Romney is hitting Obama for cronyism…but refuses to list his donors so we can’t judge him by the same standard.
Quantum Mitt. Both a particle and a wave.
Although I strongly approve of this campaign being reduced to musical theater, I don’t think this was a great entry into to genre.
The song isn’t iconic, and it isn’t really clear, and it isn’t well integrated with the visuals. I keep focusing on the music too much to actually read what is on screen. Also, did Romney even approve this ad? It doesn’t have the traditional “I approve this ad” bit — mealy mouthed Mitt can’t even approve of this?
The “America The Beautiful” ad was gripping, and because I knew the song backwards and forwards, I was able to take the time to read the text. And the sound effects were great.
Look at how much investigative reporting has come from the one year he’s actually released (presumable a year he felt was one of the least objectionable). That single year tax return has driven months and months of a myriad of stories and provided breadcrumbs to follow to other aspects of his finances. I’d guess his campaign would have to be in pretty desperate straights before even considering a more typical 12 year disclosure.
That being the case, he’ll be leaving himself open to an absolutely brutal attack from now till election day. Just going to be body blow after body blow on this subject, because the majority of voters – including Republicans – want a candidate who is going to be transparent about their finances, and who has acted morally in the past when it comes to paying their taxes.
Not that this would bother me, but it doesn’t seem to make much electoral sense.
If “Obama is a crony capitalist” is Mitt’s Sunday punch, he better get ready to defend, because Obama is going to shrug that off and hit him with ads showing Mitt to be the real tool of big business. Such ads would dovetail nicely with the ongoing Bain campaign.
If Mitt wants a pure debate on economic policy, other than just mounting platitudes about the free market system, Obama is ready for that. Mitt’s proposals test so badly that Democratic strategists have a hard time convincing prospective voters that yes, they are that bad.
The tagline on the America, the Beautiful ad is a keeper, too.
We will see that over and over again.
I can’t help but think that the Romney ad just allows one to draw a comparison between him and Obama that doesn’t do Romney any good. I mean, you’re throwing a party and need someone to sing. Which one would you hire?
@Cycloptichorn: “That being the case, he’ll be leaving himself open to an absolutely brutal attack from now till election day.”
Most importantly, you can bet the farm that Obama will bring up the tax return issue in the very first debate.
The toughest audience for Obama has been blue collar whites in the Midwest and the South. However, these are the guys who have been hardest hit by the recession and the kind of financial deal making pioneered by Bain.
Can Obama win that group? Impossible. But he can hope to keep them from coming out to vote by stressing that if that they vote for Romney they’ll be voting for the kind of SOB that closed their factories, sent their jobs overseas and played Big Casino with their pension funds.
If Romney wants to talk about the economy, that also means he wants to talk about his 10 point plan that he will introduce the first day he is in office.
Considering that a majority of people still put the blame for this economy on the head of President Bush AND considering they like Obama’s plan to raise taxes on high income earners…
Romney has a lot of work to do in a short period of time.
Romney some how has make a convincing argument that his ideas are better. He has to convince a majority of voters that already want tax rates to go up, that they are in fact wrong.
Not only that, Mitt has to fight back against the attacks that his ideas are just more of the same neo-con ideas that President Bush used, that these are the kind of ideas that got us in this mess.
I do not think Mitt is a talented enough politician (nor do I think his campaign team is all that great) to be able to convince enough potential voters into thinking that his plans are not more of the same…while arguing that not only should the voters vote to keep all the Bush-era tax cuts permanently, but they should also vote to cut taxes even further.
In addition, Mitt also has try and deflect the fact that most of his top economic and foreign policy advisers were employed by the Bush administration.
Governor Romney is doing his best to get the upper-hand in this fight over the Oval Office. The problem is, he has already dug himself a hole in which he has to argue his way out of (which seems to be the trend for Mitt, so far), while simultaneously debating the faults of his opponent. An opponent that has a higher favorability rating and an opponent that is a much better politician than he is.
It’s an interesting update to:
” Government is not the solution to our
problem, government IS the problem.”
Don’t think that’s coincidence, either.
Re: Tax Returns
Romney has boxed himself in on the tax issue…going so far as to use Teresa Heinz as an excuse this morning on the RNC Propaganda Channel.
For him to release more tax returns now will just make him look weaker than he already does…if such a thing is possible. Not releasing them will allow Obama to use that as a punching bag for the rest of the summer and fall…what is in them that Romney needs to hide?
This is a really poorly run campaign by Romney…especially when you consider that nothing we have seen to date is new…it’s all been used against Romney before…and yet he still has no valid response. How is that even possible?
He’s wise to try to change the subject.
After all it is hard to explain to the public just how beneficial it is when companies like Bain Capital leverage an acquisition of a company, strip away the assets, close plants, and lay off American Workers.
Even conservative pundits are telling Romney he needs to release the tax returns, come clean on Bain, take the hit, and stop the bleeding. Romney has gone from triple A ball to the majors, and right now he just looks confused and overmatched…
The debates will be interesting.
Obama: “Gov. Romney, how come John McCain got to look at all your tax returns, and the American people don’t?”
Maybe there just IS no valid response. Still Romney won the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s elections , so presumably it’s possible to win without a valid response if the opposition is sufficiently craptastic . Unfortunately the Obama team is top-notch and has copied the Republicans’ best tactics.
That targets an interesting class of people. Say you are doing nothing, sitting on $3 million in mutual funds or ETFs. Say you get paid 5% in dividends. That’s $150K. Tax free?
If you solve back for who would have to start paying tax on their dividends or interest, at 5% return, it turns out it is people with $4 million or more.
That is letting go a pretty big tax base. I mean it’s nice if you can do it, and still pay for government. The punters with $3 million socked away will be pleased.
I dunno. Let’s say the issue is that in his ’09 returns he payed essentially 0% in taxes. I can’t imagine what would make it politically sane to release that to the public.
The strong implication there is that he maximally deducted losses from the downturn in ’09 which and then carried the left over part of the deduction to ’10.
He won’t even have to wait that long… Rahm Emmanuel brought up a very good point on the weekend talkers – when he was being vetted for the VP slot in 2008, Romney actually turned over 23 years’ worth of tax returns, but only to the McCain campaign. And after they went over all of that…
they chose Sarah Palin.
Think about that for awhile.
@ Mr. Replica…
That’s pretty misleading…because when you cut discretionary spending from 25% of the budget to 20% of the budget (your 5%) you are actually cutting discretionary spending by 20%.
That’s a huge whack and, as with most if not all of his policies, Romney has yet to say how he plans to do that. Ditto the loopholes and simplifications to the tax code. Like Ryan he pretends to be able to do the nigh-on-impossible.
For what it’s worth I think 25% is too high during a typical budget year. But I do not have a problem with it while recovering from a catastrophic financial crisis…it probably needs to be higher right now…not lower.
(I think it would be fine to make dividends, interest and capital gains tax-free below a lower limit. That would free everyone from 401K complexity and fee rip-offs. Say dividends, interest and capital gains were untaxed until you hit the median family income, of around $50K in current dollars. That would give average folk a lifetime savings goal of a million. Sock it away for 30 or 40 years, and you might get that high. Knowing what the goal was, more people would start younger.)
I have to agree with Doug…I don’t think Romney was ever a serious alternative for McCain…no matter what was in those returns.
More importantly vis-a-vis that vetting…notice that no one involved in McCain’s campaign…those who have seen the tax returns up close and personal…are encouraging Romney to release them.
@C. Clavin: “This is a really poorly run campaign by Romney”
Our political elites are so used to money sloshing through the system that they didn’t notice how much campaign cash it took for Romney just to beat guys like Santorum and Gingrich. He had to massively outspend them and totally dominate the TV ad war to put those guys away. What Obama is doing right now is what those guys would have done if they’d had they money.
Like Ryan and with Ryan. Romney’s whole plan seems to be just another piece in the republican’s economic plan.
I am really trying to figure out how Governor Romney is going to sell this plan to the average voter.
@Mr. Replica: I am really trying to figure out how Governor Romney is going to sell this plan to the average voter.
Er , that wasn’t his plan. His plan was “Vote for me, I am a Super Duper Fixit Businessman who knows how to create jobs, and who is not a Kenyan socialist Muslim. My plan might not be long on specifics, or even comprehensible, but trust me , it will be better than anything the Kenyan can do”.
What Obama has done is to explode the myth that he is a Super Duper Fixit Businessman-at least the kind who knows how to create jobs.
Next up for Obama is to focus on the Romney plan.
Exactly. Which brings us to what Scott pointed out, that Obama ended his new video with these words: “Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem.”
See, it’s not just that Mitt doesn’t know how to fix the economy. It’s that he was a trailblazer in doing things that broke it. He’s the perfect modern capitalist: someone who has figured out how to extract great wealth while escaping responsibility for the hurt done to others along the way. When he talks about Bain using language like “no responsibility whatsoever” (as he did on Friday) he just drives this message home: “he’s the problem.”
This is a simple message, and it’s timely and important, and it’s going to dominate the rest of the campaign. Mitt created the framework for this, and he’s going to spend the rest of the campaign trapped inside that framework.
He’s going to sell it by not telling them what it is.
@john personna: “Knowing what the goal was, more people would start younger.) ”
D*mn, why didn’t us liberals think of that!
That’ll cure the unemployment rate among young people!
Romney ‘s ” crony capitalism ” gambit is already unravelling, (hat-tip Rachel Maddow):
Obama can counter-punch by simply asking Romney to disclose his bundlers, as Obama has done. Bet that doesn’t happen.
There are a few things going on at once. There is the paradox of thrift, there is globalization, and there is a global slow-down. We might all be better off if in the short term we spent, especially on things providing jobs, but individually we may suffer, especially in old age.
Hahaha…the second ad isn’t available anymore because of copyright violations…poor Mittens just can’t catch a break…
Meanwhile, Romney’s nomination seems like the Revenge of the Occupy Movement…I mean, with our current economic problems and most of the blame going to Wall Street types, was it really wise for Republicans to nominate someone like Mitt Romney to be their presidential standard-bearer?
@An Interested Party: One of Mitt’s biggest problems (among many, admittedly) is that he has no personality whatsoever. Thing is, that’s a massive improvement over literally every single other Republican possibility that could be on the ticket right now. You’ve got idiots & incompetents like Rick Perry and Hermie Cain. You’ve got sociopathic asshats that even other Republicans can’t stand like Newt. You’ve got straight-up end-times evangelical nutballs like Bachmann and Santorum. And everyone else is too overtly misogynist, racist, homophobic or just plain criminal to last even a single news cycle under the magnifying glass.
The Republican Party is simply not a functional political entity – it’s nothing more than a rich white dude’s social club. If they weren’t so clearly evil I’d expect to see Bertie Wooster show up at the next fundraiser…
The GOP has become an anti-intellectual mob, upon which the rich dudes (some of them anti-intellectual nut-jobs themselves) have tenuous control.
The rich and amoral could actually do better by themselves.
I completely agree, but that doesn’t matter. Given how unpopular Palin is and how memorable the line is, it could painful for Romney if the Obama campaign keeps hitting him on it.
Perhaps Doug is right, and the crony capitalism attacks have the potential to harm Obama, if they were being delivered by a credible source for such an attack. But Romney has no credibility whatsoever when he attacks Obama on crony capitalism, which means this line of attack was doomed to fail no matter when or how it was launched. But this week? It’s almost as absurd as “suspending” your campaign for the presidency to deal with an economic crisis.
They could, they really could. But this generation of ultra-rich – I’m looking at anyone younger than Mitt himself, here – people who were weaned on on “Wall Street” when it was originally in the theaters – is such an inbred, talentless, entitled, didn’t earn their own first million, surrounded-by-yes-men-their-whole-lives crowd of wastoids, they don’t have the foggiest idea how to _build_ anything. Just like mitt himself, they know nothing more than how to use their family name & connections to get other people to give them money, risk-free. And they still think they’re “entrepreneurs”.
@john personna: Um, was there a message there?