Skip to comments.The battle to define Mitt Romney is over—and Romney lost
Posted on 08/10/2012 10:43:42 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The Massachusetts multimillionaire who won his partys nomination largely on perceptions of electability had become the target of a ferocious blitz of negative advertising. Partisans and media decried many of the attacks as misleading or false. The nominee, busy raising money, had yet to respond with a commensurate ad buy that made the positive case for his candidacy. He relied instead on outside groups to pummel the incumbents record. And though unaffiliated consultants worried that the challenger may have unilaterally disarmed in the contest to define his biography, personality, and policies, campaign operatives and their media allies said the race was more or less tied. The choice was made to stay the course, and to accumulate a war chest that could be spent in the fall.
This decision may be remembered as the most brilliant move of the campaign, wrote Ryan Lizza, or the one that cost the nominee the presidency. It is a large-scale version of rope-a-dopeallow your opponent to unload with his most powerful punches as you hunker down and bide your time, waiting to unload in the next round, once the other guy has spent himself.
The other guy to whom Lizza referred in his May 3, 2004, New Republic article was of course George W. Bush, whose portrayal of John Kerry as a flip-flopping tax-and-spend liberal weak on national security was a success. President Bush eked out re-election, 51 percent to 48 percent nationally, thanks to a hundred thousand votes in Ohio and some trusty Diebold machines.
Eight years later, the positions are reversed. The incumbent whose poll numbers are in dangerous territory is a Democrat. The Massachusetts multimillionaire is a Republican. It is conservatives who are crying foul over the incumbent and his allies negative advertising, not liberals.
What has not changed is the incumbents use of donations from millionaires and billionaires to define his opponent in terms anathema to the voters who will decide the election, while in the midst of the onslaught the challenger engages in a version of rope-a-dope. The voters to whom the Bush appeal was targeted in 2004 were the right-leaning independents who may have had second thoughts about the Iraq war after David Kay reported that he had been unable to find weapons of mass destruction, but who also were leery of the ashen-faced and aristocratic liberal from the north.
In 2012 Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, chief strategist David Axelrod, White House senior adviser David Plouffe, and super PAC strategists Bill Burton and Paul Begala are out to disillusion white voters without college degrees in the Rust Belt and Mountain West, who will elect Mitt Romney president if they vote Republican by the 30-point margin they gave the GOP in 2010, but who could also give President Obama a second term if they do not turn out in great numbers, or if their support drops to the 18-point margin they gave John McCain in 2008.
We are therefore witnessing a well-rehearsed and coordinated and almost balletic exercise in voter suppression, as Obama and his helpers spend hundreds of millions of dollars convincing middle America that Romney is a rich elitist who made a fortune in rapacious finance capitalism, and whose concern for the bottom line trumps transparency, compassion, and community. The objective of this campaign is to tie Romney down, Gulliver-like, with connections to the most lurid aspects of Bain Capital and the global economy, thereby hobbling his ability to make his case and dragooning white voters into apathy.
The chief objective of any candidate is to define himself positively and his opponent negatively. Romney has allowed the Obama team to define him in their terms. He has three opportunitieshis vice presidential pick, his convention speech, and his performance in the debatesto seize the initiative and escape the fetters Obama has constructed. Failure to do so would leave this close election to chance. Romney risks John Kerrys fate.
The mystery is why the GOP nominee allowed himself to fall into this trap. He and his team knew the Bain attacks were coming. The late Ted Kennedy used Bain as a cudgel to beat back Romneys senate challenge in 1994. As early as last August, Politico reported that the Obama campaigns mission was to destroy Romney. Both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich flung Bain at the frontrunner during the Republican primaries. Ann Romney put it well when she told CBS News that the entirety of Obamas re-election strategy was lets kill this guy. The most senior levels of the Romney campaign had assured conservatives that Republicans were prepared for the attacks on private equity. Theyve had a funny way of showing it.
One has rather had the impression of a campaign overwhelmed by the volume and salaciousness of Obamas smears. It was May when Axelrod and company loosed Bain on the campaign trail once again, and persisted in the offensive despite protests from Cory Booker, Bill Clinton, Deval Patrick, and other Democrats. That month also saw the political debut of Joe Soptic, the steelworker who lost his livelihood in a Bain deal, and who would star in commercials for both the Obama campaign and the Obama super PAC Priorities USA.
In July the argument intensified, with the Obama and Romney camps squabbling over when exactly the Republican nominee retroactively retired from the company he created, with Obama For America deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter suggesting Romney may have committed a felony, and with Obama portraying Romney as a man willing to ship just about every job overseas but his own. In July, too, surrogates for Obama inside and outside the media launched another line of attack that focused on Romneys reluctance to release his tax returns for years prior to 2010. A high profile report in Vanity Fair suggested Romney was squirreling away money in secret overseas accounts. Other media speculated that Romney did not release the returns because he may have paid an extraordinarily low effective tax rate on investment income. The theories were legion. It did not matter that these allegations were based on absolutely no evidence. It did not matter that Romney has no legal or even moral requirement to release any more returns than he thinks are necessary. What mattered was that suspicions were raised. Doubts were sown. Cynicism spread.
Leave it to Harry Reid to crank the amplifier up to eleven by alleging, without substance, that an anonymous Bain investor once told him Romney had paid no taxes for 10 years. There is no evidentiary hurdle a smear must clearif a Democrat utters it. Nancy Pelosi stood by our national embarrassment of a Senate majority leader. The Obama campaign released an ad raising the zero percent question and asking, Isnt it time for Mitt Romney to come clean? Meanwhile Joe Soptic returned to the stage in an Obama super PAC advertisement suggesting that Romney was somehow responsible for the death of Soptics wife by cancer. The official Obama campaign initially denied knowledge of Soptics story in an attempt to distance itself from the ridiculously offensive television spot, only to later reverse its position.
Tax avoidance, felony, possible murderthis is the picture of Mitt Romney that Barack Obama has presented to the American people. One can point out the numerous factual errors and distortions and elisions in the portrait. One can observe, as Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades did in a fundraising e-mail issued Thursday, This week, the Obama campaign hit a new low. One can suggest that the race has continued to be stable and that, in the current hostile environment, to be within the margin of error is a good thing for the Republicans. And yet all of these arguments were just as applicable to the candidacy of John Kerry eight years ago as they are to Mitt Romneys candidacy today.
If Obama loses, it will be because Mitt Romney reminded white voters without college degrees of the threat Obamacare poses to individual liberty and national solvency; of Obamas ritual sacrifice of energy independence and economic growth on the altar of environmentalism; of the burden that future generations will bear because of Obamas spending; of Obamas support for a redefinition of marriage and for an amnesty of illegal immigrants. Whatever prevents Romney from pointing these things outwhether it comes from the Obama campaign or from within Romneys high commandalso prevents him from winning the presidency.
Mitt Romney did not kill Joe Soptics wife, but the Obama campaign is effectively killing Mitt Romneys reputation. It may be ugly. It may be dishonest. But if it succeeds, like all killings it will be irrevocable.
But remember, everybody told us that Romney’s a fighter.
Too bad he’s only good at fighting other Republicans.
Sure, meanwhile g
Gallup has just reported Obama’s job approval has slipped to 43% while 51% disapprove and a moronic 6% cannot decide if he is doing a good job.
Apparently, Matthew Continetti hears the fat lady singing and the AnointedIdiot has it all wrapped up, nothing to worry about, 2nd term assured. /s =.=
Barack? That you?
Drama queen barf.
Likeability numbers can change quickly and once the Convention is over and the air waves are flooded by Romney ads, some with his wife and perhaps his children occasionally they will change. Meanwhile Obama’s likeability numbers are dropping while Romney's have stabilized and there id not much more sleaze the Left can come up with which will not be viewed as totally over the top and inappropriate as the Coptic ad and the charges about his taxes (Unfounded) and now the “link” to Salvadoran Death Squads.
Sorry but I see the media spinning like crazy to prop up Obama and while there are plenty of ignorant people in America there are not that many who cannot see what Obama is about after almost 4 years. In 2008 they painted him with their own dreams and saw what they wanted to see. It's 2012 now and the paint has faded and cracked and no Earl Sheib quick paint over will fool any substantial amount of people.
thanks to a hundred thousand votes in Ohio and some trusty Diebold machines.
Stopped reading right there.
The frustrating thing is he didn’t even really try.
I have been saying for months that he should respond forcefully to the RAT lies, and that elections are lost in the summer just as much as they are in the fall, but he sat on his war chest.
Now he has tons of money, but he also has irrevocably lost a whole bunch of voters who will not even give him a chance because of the image that has been created in their minds.
Mitt has 19 years of running for political office.
Mitt has won a single election in his life and didn’t reach 50% of the vote, and left the single term with 34% approval.
Mitt is not a great candidate by any measure, and he was even worse as an actual office holder.
Nineteen years of campaigning, spending records broken in every campaign, 55 to 60 million of his own spent, and still no one has any idea why he wants to be president, or what his personal politics are, or what his interest in politics is.
Wishful thinking. But, the stupid part is, it doesn’t even matter who defines Mitt Romney. This election isn’t about Romney. It never was.
Obama has succeeded in defining himself — and nobody but his cult members like what they see. This election is a referendum on Barack.
Obama has never faced any real opposition in any election before....McCain certainly didn’t provide any.
McCain would have beaten 0bama had it not been for the “Fire in Reichstag”
Here we go again! /rolleyes
This guy's article is a bunch of wishful thinking & liberal manure. Most voters haven't even started paying attention to the election, other than to know that Obama has done a crappy job the past 3½ yrs. Unless he pulls a "McCain" (which I do not think will happen), Romney will open up against Obama after the convention when he can start spending his warchest. Then we'll see what happens in the court of public opinion.
McCain didn’t have a prayer no matter what, Palin gave him a brief surge, but there was no way he was going to win.
Washington’s Free Bacon
This sad excuse for a human being has been smoking too much reefer. Boy.....is he going to be surprised, come November 6, 2012!!!
Unfortunately for Romney, he’s never defined himself. He’s flip-flopped so many times no one, including I suspect most ABOs, can tell you where he truly stands. On anything.
If someone else defines Romney for him, all I can say is that the candidate is so bad he deserves it. He’s got work to do.
“...thanks to a hundred thousand votes in Ohio and some trusty Diebold machines.”
Oh right, I forgot that part.
This was a dreadful article and I usually like this guy’s stuff. He’s supposed to be one of us!
Now, maybe he was just being sarcastic, but as we all know it is hard to be sarcastic in print, much easier verbally.
And I’m also very tired of the implication that the Swift Boaters’ charges were smears. Kerry rose to fame by slandering his fellow service members. He had brass bound gall to show up in the guise of some old war hero “reporting for duty”. He always wanted to have things both ways, that’s why the “I voted for it before I voted against it” gaffe really hurt him.
It is one thing to tell the truth about someone, quite another to tell blatant lies like the dems are doing to Romney. I really, really, really don’t want them to be successful. Can you imagine what will happen to the next candidate if attacks like “you didn’t pay taxes for 10 years” and “you are responsible for the death of that woman” are successful?
It’s Obama who’s been defined by the manner in which he’s attempted to define his opponent. His minions are tying themselves in knots trying to fight off the backlash.
We are supposed to believe that the majority of those who will decide this election won’t begin to listen for some time now, yet they’re listening enough to conclude one of the candidates is responsible for the death of a woman who died of cancer?
The Democrats and the media attempted to “define” each and every Republican who ran in the mid-terms, and look what happened.
The whole article is bull.
Kerry’s response or non response to Swift Boat probably would not have affected things either way.His belated response did wha an early response would have done- brought up more testimony and more evidence against him. If the charges are false you refute them forcefully once, echo it briefly once or wice and go on to atack, of better, do what Reagan did. You put forward three +- BIG things you intend to accomplish and hammer on them without much responding to attacks, except humorously. But first, you have to have big things you want to accomplish and have to know how to put the goals into a few forceful words with occasional explanations for side play. Romney has no understanding of that sort of thing at all. He is more of an accountant who wants to get the details right, whatever might be the big picture.
He is facing an incredibly weak opponent this time.
Obama is facing a man whose only political successes are ones that his supporters despise, that go against his party, that most resemble Obama, and that he is now supposed to be against.
The GOP nominated an empty suit with a pocket full of money. Conservatives weren't able to raise enough 'free $peech'.
“thanks to a hundred thousand votes in Ohio and some trusty Diebold machines.
Stopped reading right there.”
You and me both.
Talk about spot-on and not a letter wasted!
That really should have had a (barf alert) tag.
Thus all the "rich guy" attacks from the WH.
Romney is fighting back hard.
The fiercest part of the battle to define Romney will continue until the Convention. Then Romney gets the bully pulpit for a few hours so he can define himself.
Sure hope someone is saving these articles to review on 11/7. :-)
Sadly, with half the population on the government dole it is over now for Romney and us.
Obama Widens Lead Over Romney as Smear Tactics Take Hold
Friday, August 10, 2012 11:06 AM
By: Henry J. Reske
The Obama campaigns unrelenting and discredited assault on GOP challenger Mitt Romney over his taxes and business career are taking a toll on the former Massachusetts governors standing with voters.
Three national polls released in the last two days show President Barack Obama opening up a seven to nine point lead.
A new Fox News poll shows Obama ahead 49 to 40 percent, the biggest spread since Romney secured the Republican nomination. A CNN/ORC International poll shows that among registered voters, Obama leads Romney 52 percent to 45 percent and an Reuters/Ipsos poll also has Obama up by 7, 49 to 42.
Once I hit the old Diebold Conspiracy Theory I stopped reading.
The Left has not defined you until the entire country is laughing at the parody pantomime you on Saturday Night Live.
The only war we, yes, WE the voters, are responsible for losing is the psychological war of the media w/ us, which tells us this is an election between an incumbent and a challenger, like any other past election. We all know it is not and the media knows it is not, but they are winning in convincing us that it is. In which case the fraud of this obamination, this shambles of a presidency, is wiped clean and the two candidates are put on par and let the “campaign” begin anew, at which point media has a clear path to victory for their composite charlatan by character assassination of the challenger.
Can’t you all see that?
This is like no election in the past and WE MUST reject the notion that it is. All the phony polls are all about that same narrative, same psychological warfare. The media’s main goal is, at a minimum, to raise up the composite charlatan on par w/ the challenger. He is not, no matter who the challenger to obamanation is, and we should never be bamboozled into believing that it is. We should never accept the media fantasy that this is any old run-of-the-mill, status quo election. We must reject the very notion of this fraud. obama is the devil and he must stand on that legacy and record. And on that legacy he has nowhere to run but the fires of damnation, God willing. Let’s make that clear at every turn in these difficult months ahead. obama will not and cannot be president again and the media better get that stupid notion out of their head — or change their candidate asap before they all go down w/ him.
It is a travesty, that this not a Christian empty suit won the nomination. Rick Santorum would have been a much better pick. We know what his values are. He doesn’t say things and change his mind 5 seconds later. He obviously loves his wife and his family and he keeps his promises.
Would Paul Ryan do it? I think so...
No candidate ever puts out in detail how he intends to go about implementing his programs and for good reason. The opposition will pick apart the details and turn a positive idea into a negative. This is the exact reason the media wants Romney to be more specific and he is smart to hold back on the details for now.
Remember Nixon and his “secret plan” to end the war” Now I certainly don't agree with the way we basically ran out of VN but during the campaign polls were heavily against further or ongoing involvement and Nixon played off that.
Deficits, jobs and the economy are today's top priorities and ALL polling I have seen shows Romney ahead in the ability to deal with them.
Reagan proved you win the independents by ignoring the stereotypes of Independents and ignoring the Left outright. Enunciate principles and put forward programs and goals from those principles. The independents are much more likely to come to a forthright principled Conservative stand than to a pander. People may claim they like and believe the things said in pandering but they understand underneath that it is pandering and their enthusiasm is be muted or/and they will vote the other way.
I can’t understand what it is you want Romney to do at this stage of the campaign? As I said a broad outline is the best way to go NOW because any details will immediately be ripped to shreds and be made to overshadow the goal of jobs creation.
If he ignores the attacks from the liberals he risks having peope think he is guilty as charged. He will win if he sticks with the message of Obama failure and Romney hope. Obama’s failures are documented and on the record. America has seen him in the job as president and they do not like what they see.
Romney/Ryan offers voters the chance of a proved success in private industry versus a failed choice of someone who has not a shred of experience dealing with the problems we face and has proved he cannot do the job.
They despise that people like me and Jim Robinson, and freerepublic consider Mitt Romney too liberal and anti-conservative to even be in the GOP, and much less, it's leader.
Why do you reference bullshit polls? Those recent polls have been oversampling Democrats by as much as 9%.
I don’t know what happened to the reply I posted yesterday. It seems to have vanished in the ether so this similar albeit a bit prolonged.
I like “quantum-delusional denial...” and might have used it in this comment, had I (1) thought of it and (2) had you not used it first.
I’m astounded that you (actually that should be you of all people, an individual of intelligence, humor, intensive, prolonged focus and a master of English usage.... how do I know? I took the trouble to read some of your recent postings-an interesting and amazing side trip) used “media journalists” (a.k.a. IMO venal gossips) to underscore your point that the Republican candidate is something other than cool white bread. That may be. That may not be. I too would have preferred Mr. Newt but I would have preferred Mr. Newt with an admixture of Patton and Steve Martin in Romney’s body much like those body switch comedies that Hollywood churns out.
You direct me to to “Face the Truth. Deal with It.”
I’ve been facing it for the four years since Obama won the election against Juan M. I would now vote for the LLoyds Bank Turd if it had a reasonable chance of soundly defeating the Kenyan crypto-Commie Usurper and his evil minions.
I will deal with it by voting the Romney-Ryan ticket because that is the current reality just as I voted for the delectable Sarah last time around. I don’t know why you detest Romney with a depth of hatred that should be reserved for the Usurper but I’m sure that all that prolonged intensity has a meaningful reason behind it. I just don’t need to understand it.
I sincerely thank you for your response to my little post.