Thanks to KQuark for suggesting that we set up an ongoing thread for discussing the slow motion kamikaze nose dive into the GOP known as the Mitt Romney Presidential campaign.
As of the date of this post, there are six weeks and six days left until Election Day. At the current rate, that means we should see 6-7 more Mitt Romney emergency press conferences by then.
Some key questions at this point:
1. Has Romney permanently damaged his credibility and image over the last two weeks, with his false accusations of President Obama apologizing and siding with Muslim terrorists in the recent uprisings followed up by the release of the video of him at a fundraiser denigrating 47% of the American people?
2. Even with expectations low for Romney in the debates, can even a well reviewed performance by pundits make a meaningful difference with voters? What can Romney possibly do or say in a debate that would transcend all that has happened in the last few weeks? Might President Obama at least perform to a draw at worst and if so, does just his presence on the stage with Obama still benefit Romney as looking Presidential?
3. Can a flood of SuperPAC ads between now and Election Day, pushing Romney and slamming Obama, really change minds or will people be tuning them out, having already made up their minds?
Here are some propositions on the queries above.
Mitt Romney has confirmed an image of himself which is inescapable at least to some degree. His desperation seems more and more apparent and his flip-flopping and twisting of the truth and what he’s on video saying only strengthens the perception of him as having no core and willing to say anything no matter how hypocritical or contradictory, just to get the Presidency in his hands. Because of this, I think there is a ceiling to how much he can improve his position and it isn’t enough to win the election.
As to the debates, Romney and his team see them as his last possible shot at reversing his descent so they are going to throw all they can at winning them. He has been preparing for them for a long time and putting a lot of time and energy into it. He will no doubt have plenty of manipulative (and contradictory) quotes he’ll spout that were written for him by the best speechwriters the Repubs have. So I don’t doubt that he will get his share of pats on the back from MSM pundits after his first debate with Obama…even though it will be just for being a parrot. At the same time, he will be faced with his lies, with his lack of specifics about his cuts in his budget, with his irresponsible response to the Muslim protests and with his attack on 47% of Americans. There is no question that he will be prepared to spin these questions into blather about how bad Obama is but the net effect on those who watch is that they will be reminded of Romney’s poor judgement and lack of principles…and witness to his dancing away from responsibility, honesty and details. This subtext of the debate will no doubt be lost on those in the MSM who want this to be as close a race as possible but to the voters, it will continue to anchor Romney down as someone with whom they don’t feel comfortable. Lastly, whetner Romney stumbles or Obama just out points him, Obama may win the first debate hands down and if he does, the curtain may fall on Romney even though two debates would be left. Romney’s candidacy looks like a losing one right now, even Republican pundits say so. Losing the first debate would knock Romney so far down the ladder, what follows could seem moot and lose its power to influence.
As to the power of the right wing SuperPACs to brainwash people into voting for Romney with incessant ads that lie and propagandize, here too I think there is a limited potential for impact. There will be those indie voters who already have solidified their opinion of Romney as someone they don’t trust and ads supporting him by his allies will simply be disregarded by them. The number of undecided voters is already small and getting smaller each week so the pool of people who could be manipulated will be exponentially smaller as time goes by. Many undecided voters have been strongly impacted by the revelations about Romney in the last few weeks and annoying, negative tv ads won’t overcome that for many of them.
The polls showing how broadly people don’t relate to Romney and don’t favor him against Obama on any issue make for a very high wall that Romney simply doesn’t seem able to climb over. And there are two more key events in the next month that could build that wall even higher, no matter how well Romney is said to have done in debates.
First, there are Romney’s 2011 tax returns that he has said he would release in October. He is an unapologetic liar so it is possible that considering the position he finds himself in now as the 47% of Americans hating elitist, he may just refuse to release them as promised. If he doesn’t, it will be an enormous and damaging issue, if he does, it will be an enormous and damaging issue because, whether or not there is anything they weren’t able to clean up, it will be a very simple and clear reminder of Romney as the elitist multimillionaire who pays a smaller percentage of taxes than you…and the issue of the wealthy fighting against tax fairness is brought front and center. A bit of a problem for the candidate who wants to slash taxes even more for the wealthy and tax the middle class and poor more.
Second, there is the jobs report for September. As last month’s non-impact of the report showed, this is a win-win for Obama. Historically, September is usually a positive month for job growth, coming when kids go back to school and summer jobs are vacated that can be filled by the unemployed. Preliminary reports, for what they’re worth, seem to indicate the numbers will be positive for Obama. If they are positive and the unemployment rate goes down, Obama will have a more powerful argument to say that things are getting better. Remarkably, the public has been shifting meaningfully to saying the country is on the right track. Giving credit to the American people, they seem to understand that the economy and the job numbers won’t be improving quickly so even if the jobs report shows little improvement, this won’t be a surprise or a negative to voters. The jobs report can’t really hurt Obama but it can really help him.
The bottom line here on which both Democrats and Republicans agree is that Mitt Romney has no core and has displayed incompetence in running this billion dollar venture. What some people don’t realize, partly because Romney has lied about this, Mitt Romney has never really run a “real” business. Being CEO of Bain was more like being the top guy running a ponzi scheme. It was like playing a game that’s rigged. The laws of capitalism and business were and are irrelevant, they could make terrible decisions and bankrupt companies but they made millions all the same. They didn’t have to be smart or resourceful, they just used money as a hammer to crack companies wide open and steal their money.
Running this campaign is the first time Mitt Romney has had to run a real business that had concrete rules and obstacles and when faced with having to win a game that wasn’t rigged for him to win, Romney proves himself to be the incompetent failure that he is (and would have been in life if he hadn’t been born with a silver spoon and protected from reality his whole life).
As mentioned, we have a ways to go before Election Day and whether or not Romney closes the gap in the polls, Obama can’t win re-election if people don’t get out there and vote for him. So schadenfreude at Romney’s self-destruction may be enjoyable but enthusiasm to volunteer, contribute, help get out the vote and vote oneself is what’s most important to achieving the re-election of President Obama.