Romney’s Campaign Strategy

The Boston Globe has gotten a copy of Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy.

Here are some views of Mitt Romney causing concern inside his campaign: His hair looks too perfect, he’s not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as “Slick Dancing Mitt” or “Flip-Flop Mitt.”

Romney and his advisers have identified those perceptions as threats to his bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, according to an exhaustive internal campaign document obtained by the Globe.

The 77-slide PowerPoint presentation offers a revealing look at Romney’s pursuit of the White House, outlining a plan for branding himself, framing his competitors, and allaying voter concerns about his record, his Mormon faith, and his shifts on key issues like abortion.

Dated Dec. 11, the blueprint is wide-ranging and analyzes in detail the strengths and weaknesses of Romney and his two main Republican rivals, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York. The plan, which top Romney strategist Alex Castellanos helped to draft, charts a course for Romney to emerge as the nominee, but acknowledges that the “electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed.”

One wonders why campaigns are suddenly so careless with their campaign documents. This is at least the third one of these things to emerge in the press so far and we’re almost two years out from the 2008 election. While not quite Edwardesque in its recklessness, it’s pretty close.

Moreover, it seems to me that Romney’s main problem is not his lovely hair (“Don’t vote against me because I’m beautiful!”) or his dancing skills. After all, John Kerry was widely perceived as a flip-flopper and John Edwards had very nice hair and they came within a few thousand votes in Ohio of winning the White House.

No, the campaign’s real problem is that they need a 77-slide PowerPoint presentation to outline their strategy for getting elected. If they had had PowerPoint in 1980, Ronald Reagan’s campaign would have needed 5 slides, max. Whether it’s a campaign strategy, a business plan, or a military ops brief, the 11th slide in your PowerPoint brief is a glaring signal you don’t really understand what you’re trying to get across to your audience.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. For better or worse (and I would certainly argue worse), this is the age of bumper sticker politics. If Romney doesn’t understand that, he’s doomed.

  2. Tlaloc says:

    If they had had PowerPoint in 1980, Ronald Reagan’s campaign would have needed 5 slides, max.

    True. True.

    Slide 1: title slide
    Slide 2: Campaign strategy- state feel good platitudes
    Slide 3: Economic policy- Raise taxes to cover gaping debt that supply side economics leaves
    Slide 4: Foreign policy- Sell weapons to regimes that hate us then send profits to regimes that rape and murder nuns
    Slide 5: Legal strategy- Make sure Ollie is familiar with the 5th amendment

    It’s the Reagan presidency in a nutshell. Why exactly is this guy the patron saint of the right? He coddled/funded terrorists and he raised taxes. Aren’t those horrible sins over there?

  3. Michael says:

    I’m sure Romney’s campaign could also be narrowed down to 5 slides. However, in my experience, when you give someone with basic office computing knowledge access to MS Powerpoint, you get 4 pages of graphics and transition effects for every 1 page of actual content. I mean, the staffer had to justify spending a whole week on this one project somehow, 5 slides wasn’t gonna cut it.

  4. I can’t wait until someone figures out that the way to get your talking points out is to “leak” your strategy briefing papers. Under negatives list things like “Loves America to much to see it tarnished by those who just want to buy the presidency”, “Feels compelled to tell the truth, even when the truth isn’t popular” or “Loves his mother so will be vulnerable if the scumbag opposition attacks her (ditto on apple pie)”.

    The rest is of course would be about what a wonderful person the candidate is and why the country would be better with him as president.

    Tlaloc,

    It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. I suggest you do a bit of research about what things were like in 1980 when Reagan was running.

  5. Tlaloc says:

    Tlaloc,
    It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. I suggest you do a bit of research about what things were like in 1980 when Reagan was running.

    I have no deep abiding love of carter. He did coddle a few tyrants in his day but when the responsible republicans suddenly took the whitehouse there was no longer a tyrant in the world we didn’t love (so long as they hated communists and were willing to rape nuns to prove it).

    Compared to Iran-contra, the star wars idiocy (That we’re still paying for), the arming of the mujahadeen (also STILL paying for), and the supporting of Saddam Hussein (ditto) the carter malaise looks pretty darn good.

    Those things might be in those history books you suggested reading, btw.

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Whether it’s a campaign strategy, a business plan, or a military ops brief, the 11th slide in your PowerPoint brief is a glaring signal you don’t really understand what you’re trying to get across to your audience.

    Awesome! Though there exist (we) curmudgeons who say that it’s the first slide that shows you’ve gone wrong.

  7. carpeicthus says:

    If they had had PowerPoint in 1980, Ronald Reagan’s campaign would have needed 5 slides, max.

    Less. Quoth The Onion: “Kill the Bastards.”

  8. Bandit says:

    Reagen freed more humans from totalitarian slavery than all of human rights groups have in history. No wonder lefties don’t like him.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Reagen freed more humans from totalitarian slavery than all of human rights groups have in history. No wonder lefties don’t like him.

    Right, when he put Gorbachev in that armlock and made him surrender the USSR I was like, “Whoa.” But then he swam to china and with one punch destroyed the great wall which had been oppressing the mongols for so long. And then he crushed coal into diamonds with his hands so that no one would need buy blood diamonds from the congo.

    And when General Zod atacked him in Reagan’s fortress of solitude in the arctic he pulled a cellophane R from off his chest and distracted the evil (democratic) kryptonians long enough to get away.

    Seriously, it totally happened!

    (somebody was saying something about reading history, perhaps the actual history of the cold war would be a good place to start, hint- reagan freed exactly nobody, he did however promote a game of nuclear brinksmanship)

  10. The problem isn’t 77-slide Power Point presentations or 5-slide Power Point presentations. The problem is it’s a Power Point presentation period. Whatever happened to writing memos? Full, complete sentences help one seriously think about strategy and tactics as well as explaining them to others. Me thinks the whole “Mitt as Venture Capitalist” vibe has been taken too far.