Published Saturday, July 28, 2012
Oh, yes, I have seen Republican presidential campaigns ... far too many. Make no mistake, in my judgment, Mitt Romney has everything it takes to be a great president.
Unfortunately, my job is to provide realistic analysis about elections. And right now, I can literally see this race ending up as another huge Republican catastrophe.
What the GOP strategists have forgotten is that elections are won as much on image as they are on issues. So on the Fourth of July holiday, Barack Obama entertained military personnel at the White House and then hit the road on a tour of critical swing states. And Mitt Romney ... well, as if scripted out of Hollywood, he was in New England, where he took a break from his family vacation to march in a local parade. Hey, man, if you want to be president, you have to give it your all.
Has anyone wondered why Romney has the Tim Pawlentys of the world stumping for him, but no Herman Cain or Rick Perry? Newt Gingrich has been put on ice, as well. And as for Marco Rubio -- who I continue to believe is Romney’s one chance for victory -- well, he’s basically been so thrown off the Romney radar screen he has been forced to use his book tour as a precursor to running for president after Romney gets creamed.
How in the world can a candidate be losing in virtually every battleground state in this miserable economy? It boggles the mind to think the Romney camp has yet to understand that it needs energy in the campaign, and that means names like Cain, Perry, Palin, Gingrich and others, as part of a true unity effort. Yes, they all carry baggage, but so too do both Romney and Obama. In a battle like this, you forget any weakness your allies might have and rely on their strengths.
Does anyone in the Romney campaign get the fact that Barack Obama is as smart a politician as we have seen in decades? The man has suffered blow after blow but has managed to stay ahead in most polls and, I might add, outflank his opponent on the “Bush tax cuts” extension, by basically bringing almost all voters under his tent of “the government loves you.” Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has an economic policy that requires a day to read through. No one gets what his message is, if in fact he has one.
This country cannot take four more years of Barack Obama. And if Hillary Clinton leaves her post, as she claims she will, the Obama administration will begin to conduct foreign policy as poorly as it has domestic.
But if Obama supporters want some good news, I have it for them.
Romney has allowed himself to be painted as a rich, out-of-touch moderate. The GOP conservatives know he has totally blown off their more trusted leaders. In fact, one candidate who has been forced to return money designated for the general election sent those funds back to contributors with a suggestion they might give the donation back to the GOP ... or just keep it. Do you blame them? This campaign has treated conservative journalists, elected officials -- I mean everyone -- like they are dirt.
Can Romney turn this around? The answer is yes. But the man has to create a real message and a real image. Boston-gone-blue-jeans is not working. Ronald Reagan could get away with the Western look because he had a real ranch and a real horse. But you did not see President Reagan wearing faux “everyman” clothes on the campaign trail. He looked presidential, while at the same time seeming approachable.
The Romney campaign has every event so roped off, timed to the second and built for wealthy donors that it reeks of GOP Titanics of the past. And, after canning the debate coach who clearly saved his political life in Florida, I shudder to imagine the massacre he might be in for in October when he debates President Obama.
I know, the Romney staff will hate me for this. But if they think about it, they should use these and many similar columns to put it to their boss -- you have to let us get this thing fixed now or we are going down in a year when no Republican nominee should lose.
(Matthew Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. His column is distributed by Morris News and Creators’ Syndicate.)