Attacking Romney Rather than the People Looting our Economy

This Politico story–“revealing” Obama’s campaign plan to brand Multiple Choice Mitt as “weird”–has gotten a lot of attention in the twittersphere.

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. His aides are increasingly resigned to running for reelection in a glum nation. And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.


The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

“First, they’ve got to like you, and there’s not a lot to like about Mitt Romney,” said Chicago Democratic consultant Pete Giangreco, who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. “There’s no way to hide this guy and hide his innate phoniness.”

A senior Obama adviser was even more cutting, suggesting that the Republican’s personal awkwardness will turn off voters.

“There’s a weirdness factor with Romney and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public,” said the adviser, noting that the contrasts they’d drive between the president and the former Massachusetts governor would be “based on character to a great extent.”

Now, no matter how reprehensible this campaign strategy is (particularly for the way it feels like Mormon-bashing), and for all Politico probably feels it has “won the morning” by printing it, both are missing something.

This campaign has already been in place.

A significant chunk of the tweets the Michigan Democratic Party sends out, for example, focus on Romney–showing Obama leading him, playing up GOP opposition to him, dissing his fundraising, recalling his stance on the auto bailout, branding his appearance in MI his “hypocrisy tour,” pitching other states’ anti-Mitt swag. While it has gotten better of late, for a while the MDP focused more on Romney-bashing than on Rick Snyder-bashing–which of course meant no one was attacking Snyder’s plan to tax seniors to pay for a tax cut for businesses.

Now, I understand MI may have a particularly driving reason to do this. Not only might Mitt’s ties to MI give him a critical edge over Obama that could flip a crucial swing state. But even at the primary level, MI’s cross-over voting might mean if Democrats support Romney, it could make a significant difference in him winning the Republican primary.

Yet, again, this early focus on Mitt has distracted from where I would like Democratic messaging to be targeted–not only on Snyder, but on the businesses that have looted our country. I would suggest this might explain why MI Dems have such little confidence in their party right now.

Obama may feel like he needs to call Mitt names to win re-election. But if that’s the sole purpose of the Democratic Party between now and then, it will leave a vacuum precisely where the most important messaging needs to be.

21 replies
  1. Bill Michtom says:

    Since Obama has spent his entire term destroying the country for the elites, there aren’t many campaign options.

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    We’ve already noticed that Obama’s ONLY campaign issue that he actually wins on is “All the others are worse”. Romney is the most difficult to portray that way because in most areas there’s very little difference between Mitt and Barry.

    So lets use a word like weird and make sure we don’t get pinned down on what “weird” means.

    Boxturtle (‘Cause if we DO get pinned down, Obama might end up weird too)

  3. klynn says:

    I’ll tell you what is weird, a leader who had his party in the leadership legislatively and did nothing to improve the nation while he had THAT advantage.

    Good lord, it down to name calling by both sides?

    What a bunch of spoiled brats on the playground.

  4. Cregan says:

    A very good post. Everyone would like to see better campaigns on all sides, but I doubt we are going to get it.

    It seems the campaign may boil to down to “which pile of dung do you think smells the worst?”

    Personally, I think Obama is cracking up and buckling under the pressure of the situation and his sense that no one cares what he says anymore. From either side.

  5. bailey says:

    Obama is the WORST Democratic President ever. It doesn’t matter how weird, stupid, godly or ungodly his opponent is, I’m contributing to, campaigning for & voting for him/her.
    The 2012 election SHOULD be a referendum on Obama, not a contrived personality contest. (How can anyone like a person who’s deliberately squandered the opportunity we entrusted to him?)

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    @klynn: I don’t know that I’d call that weird. We’ve had spineless, incompetent, backstabbing political hacks in office before.

    Weird would have been doing something for the nation that negatively impacted his political contributors.

    Boxturtle (And he hasn’t gone anywhere near that)

  7. Kathleen says:

    In regard to reeling in Corporate greed and going after fat cats who slip their wealth through well greased tax loop holes Obama and team seem to be setting it up for us to ask how different would the lack of accountability be when it comes to the greedlock gone wild?

    What would be the difference on this if Romney were Prez?

    Seems like a bad strategy

    Where is the jobs, jobs, jobs program?

  8. 1970cs says:

    He is losing his biggest supporters:

    The bubble that has popped here is not American government debt, but the overstretched and overpromised hedge fund industry. It’s impossible to tell how long the liquidation will continue. But the stock market today does not run off fumes as in the dot-com days of the 1990s, nor off the phony profits of ultra-levered financial companies as in the 2000s. Corporate America is flush with cash, financially sound, and making better money than ever before.

  9. Cregan says:


    It is strange. When you see him talking now, it is almost as if he knows that no one believes him anymore. They are just words and sounds.

    The debt debate featured a few times where he seemed disconnected from reality–something very disconcerting to see in a President of any party.

  10. BoxTurtle says:

    @Cregan: I get the same impression. It won’t be long before his speeches are held up to ridicule everywhere but DailyKos.

    Boxturtle (At that’s only because of Kos strongarm moderation)

  11. scribe says:

    Doesn’t matter what he says – he’s long since lost both my vote and my support.

    In another way, though, by trying now to knock down Mittster, B[lankfein’s] H[ouseboy] Obama can be seen as trying to influence the Rethug primary vote in the crossover-voting states – away from the phony Mittens and toward the theocrazy Bachmann, in the not-unreasonable hope that the Teabaggers may be so put out by Mittens and his weirdness that the theocrazy* Bachmann wins the nomination and makes the re-elect a cakewalk.

    * I like the new usage I just coined and I think I’ll keep using it. At least until Ms. EW tells me to stop. Then I’ll just sneak it in when she ain’t looking.

  12. scribe says:

    @EH: Absolutely.

    If Obama had done even a half-assed job for the voters (rather than the funders), he could have pilloried Mittens on something a-religious. He could have argued that Mittens’ claim to being a job creator was only partly true and therefore false: “yup. He created jobs. In China. By destroying them here and shipping them there.”

    But BH has blown that chance.

  13. Cregan says:

    He’s got to be really desperate to be depending on that strategy.

    This is going to be one nasty campaign all the way around.

    Also, with the way things are going for him, he might even have a hard time against Bachmann.

  14. scribe says:

    @Cregan: He has no one to blame for this but himself.

    He had a unified Democratic party, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a solid majority in the House, the examples of history tho show what worked and what did not, a mandate to change the way things had been going to a way both more favorble to the average voter and from the way the REpublicans had been taking them, and the good will of the entire world.

    In all of history, seldom has the leader of a country, let alone the leading country in the world, come into office with such a set of advantages and such an obvious path to follow. I cannot think of a more extreme example.

    Instead, he chose both to beg Rahm Emmanuel to work for him and to listen to him, to doubledown on the worst abuses of his predecessor, and to piss away all his momentum and his majorities in stupid service of his bankster masters.

  15. Cregan says:

    I say his downfall came from two bad decisions early.

    1. farm out the stimulus to Congress to hash out rather than him coming up with a specific and coordinated plan designed to do something more than hand out money.

    2. Similarly, farming out the health care reform to Congress rather that designing and promoting a more direct simple plan.

    He continued this with the debt debate–farming it out and not coming up with his own specific proposal.

    Sometimes, I think he was more busy figuring who was going to carve his image in Rushmore than governing.

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