A year ago, many assumed that Mitt Romney (R-MA) was the weakest candidate to go up against President Obama. Believing that he came with too many liabilities and too much of a nice-guy streak, Democrats assumed that a Romney nomination would ensure Obama’s re-election. Now, President Obama and his campaign chiefs are catching a glimpse of what Romney will be like in the general election.
Mitt Romney has come out swinging over the last two weeks, hammering the President repeatedly on the economy, the unemployment rate, and skyrocketing debt. Conservatives and Republicans that were disheartened four years ago when Senator John McCain refused to go on the attack should be overjoyed. Romney is not playing by the same rules. He’s a fighter.
After sweeping five primaries and taking home most of the available delegates on April 24, Romney delivered a speech lambasting President Obama’s record. He told Americans to hold on a little longer, promising that the worst was almost over. Channeling both Ronald Reagan’s eternal optimism and Bill Clinton’s mastery of phrase, Romney gave the president a message on the country’s behalf, telling him “It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid!”
Romney kicked off this new strategy with a series of scathing, but carefully calculated comments during various interviews. Whereas other candidates in the past have gone off unhinged only to damage themselves in the public eye, Romney is much more calm and collected. It's part of a wider campaign strategy that is already proving effective in the early polls.
The first part of this strategy involves ‘bracketing,’ which is the practice of beating ones opponent to the punch and effectively ending the argument before it begins. Romney kicked off this strategy last week in North Carolina with his now infamous ‘Pre-buttal speech.’ Romney chose a spot directly across the street from where the Democratic National Convention will be held in September.
The more Romney continues with this strategy, the more refuted and ridiculous Obama’s message will sound before he even gets the chance to deliver it to an audience.
Romney’s strategy also involves his new best friends, Super PACs. While Obama will have more personal campaign cash on hand, Romney’s Super PACs might be able to raise more money than those that are supporting the president. Romney can sit back and take precise verbal hits on President Obama, while his Super PACs can focus their energy on pounding Obama into the dirt for the next seven months.
The president has never faced a tough opponent before now. Obama won his Senate seat by a landslide in 2004, and Senator McCain refused to get tough in 2008. Since he’s never been up against a worthy opponent, Obama has been able to get by thus far with a glass jaw. Romney has proven that he is not willing to be the president’s stationary target. Attacks on Romney’s wife and pet dog from Obama supporters quickly blew up in the president's face, while everything since has been met with a very quick response.
The President has already gone around saying how Republicans want to eliminate birth control pills and purposely pollute the Earth. Romney knows that Obama is going to hit him with everything he can in order to win, and is responding accordingly.
In 2008, McCain informed his advisors that easy targets like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers were off limits. Romney’s already been highlighting those associations on the campaign trail.
There were many who were wary of Romney. Others didn’t like how he beat up his Republican primary opponents. Now, that same fire will be focused on President Obama. By coming out swinging this early , Romney is sending a message to his fellow conservatives. They don’t have to like everything about him, but they will like the weaponry he’s going to use on Obama.
For a long time, Republicans have wanted someone with a little fire in the belly. President Bush tried endlessly to get along with people who despised him in Washington, and John McCain tried to wage a nice-guy campaign. Romney played nice in 2008, and lost because of it. This time, the gloves are off, and he’s playing for keeps.
Let’s get ready to rumble, shall we?