Recently, the Daily Caller included an article entitled, “Conservatives Warning Mitt He Will Lose if He Doesn’t Change Campaign.” The article outlines perceived weaknesses of the Romney Campaign and suggests changing tactics. While I appreciate the analysis, I will have to respectfully disagree. I think the Romney Campaign has done very well with strategy, and changing tactics at the first sign of choppy waters is not only unsound, but signals a weakness of the GOP.
The article states,
“’The decision not to define Romney, but to attack Obama over the spring and summer was a huge, strategic mistake,’ a Republican strategist with knowledge of the inner-workings of the campaign told The Daily Caller in an interview. ‘The assumption that the race for presidential election defaults in a bad economy to the challenger is wrong.’”
Admittedly, I am a writer, not a political strategist. However, I am not completely foreign to campaign politics, and I believe that the above comment does not account for the media that is continually hostile to the Romney Campaign, and adoring of The Anointed One. Romney’s unwillingness to more clearly define his stances has effectively been an unwillingness to play defense, as anything he says can and will be used against him in the liberal media.
In contrast, the Obama Campaign has been flailing about, trying to create attack messaging with little information to manipulate. They sure as hell cannot run on their record of accomplishments, so that would only leave attacking the soundbites Romney puts out; and they have been grasping at scraps for months.
Further defining the Romney Campaign would provide the liberal media with more opportunities to misconstrue the message. Putting the onus upon the Obama Campaign to explain why he should receive another four years to fix what he has made worse since taking office is a smart strategy; I only hope the Romney Campaign is willing to stick to it.
Sometimes, forcing the opponent to make the move is more proactive. In Blackjack, if I have a 13, and the dealer has a 5 showing, it’s smart to stay, and allow the dealer to bust. Likewise, the Romney Campaign has been remarkably disciplined when it comes to not taking the bait to lure all parties into a discussion that can only serve the interests of liberals.
Take, for example, the unwillingness to indulge the trap set by Democrats, double-dog-daring Romney to release his tax returns. When mere speculation wasn’t enough, “Dirty” Harry Reid swung for the fences with his slanderous claims that Romney has not paid taxes, as if Romney would take the bait and say, “I’ll show you! Here they are!” By staying out of that discussion, it made the Democrats look ridiculous and deprived them of the “He’s rich!” accusations the Democrats needed to create class resentment.
Fundamentally flawed in the criticism of Romney’s Campaign is the notion that this is a zero-sum game. Voters do not have the firm choice between only voting for Obama or Romney, but they have the choice to simply not vote. That being said, low voter turnout typically occurs in the younger population and the minority populations- both of which lean heavily left. The right will vote for Romney because he’s not Obama, but the left needs to find a reason to vote as they have, with a few stalwart, diehard Obamaniacs, lost “hope” for “change.” The people voting for Romney are voting against Obama. And while there will, undoubtedly, be voters voting against Romney, I firmly believe that many who may have become disillusioned with Obama will opt to simply not vote. Romney doesn’t have to beat Obama, Obama has to beat Romney and voter apathy. Changing his strategy jeopardizes that.
Furthermore, Romney has had to operate on a very thin line; if he defines his stance too heavily, he risks alienating either moderates or Tea Partiers, and the Obama Campaign could play it up either way. If Romney made crystal clear outlines for Tea Party fiscal reforms, the Obama Campaign could play on moderate fears, saying, “Romney is too radical!” Such staunch declarations can also mobilize lethargic Democratic voters that could abide a moderate Republican, but not a Tea Partier.
Case in point: Romney is videotaped saying that 47% of the people don’t pay taxes and that they will vote for the Party that gives them the best goodies, a statement that emphasizes the fundamental problem with fiscal liberalism, and the Obama Campaign and the liberal media have been pushing that tape nonstop. Imagine if Romney had made a campaign out of clearly defining his stances on economic issues?
However, picking Paul Ryan as the Vice President was a good gesture to signal a willingness to reach out to the fiscally conservative.
In a perfect world, Romney could just stick to the issues. However, we live in a world where Romney must deal with a heavily hostile media that has gone to dogmatically insane lengths to protect their Messiah, and he must factor that in. Changing tactics by more clearly defining his ideology will win him some voters, lose him others, but most of all, arm the Obama Campaign to “spin” whatever he says and create a perception problem.