Romney, staff can’t seem to get job of being presidential candidate under control
Breaking news: Mitt Romney is bad at his job.
To be clear, I don’t mean the job of being president, or even being governor or CEO of Bain. The job Romney has consistently mucked up is simply being a candidate for president.
To be fair, it’s not entirely his fault — in a typical campaign, a candidate should have an army of staffers to prevent him or her from making the kinds of mistakes Romney has been making regularly. And further, some decisions are ones he himself is clearly not in charge of.
Still, it is his own responsibility to choose his team and to make sure the team members’ quality of work is on par with the high-level strategy and intensity of a national campaign.
Let’s look at a few high-profile mistakes made by the Romney campaign recently, and how a campaign staff with sufficient expertise could have easily prevented them.
First, let me just say my impish self really enjoyed Clint Eastwood’s — well, let’s call it a speech. For us on the left, this speech, more than hilarious, brought joy to our hearts as we watched Romney’s poll numbers drop before our eyes.
This was an entirely preventable outcome for Republicans. To briefly explain, most Americans don’t watch the conventions for more than one hour a night because the major basic-cable networks only air them for one hour per night.
Typically, the candidate will show a short biographical film, which functions as an extremely well-produced campaign ad and has been known to have a major effect on voters. Next, a prominent and well-liked surrogate will take some time to argue for and introduce the candidate. Finally, the candidate will speak.
Romney’s staff threw this out the window, and instead we listened to Eastwood talk to an empty chair. The results speak for themselves — Romney received almost no increase in the polls following the convention.
That brings me to this week’s most obvious mistake. As many of you may know, Romney himself was caught on a hidden camera saying some less-than-friendly things about poorer Americans.
Worse yet, he did so in a private fundraiser for some of his most wealthy donors, which fits right into the Democrats’ narrative of Romney as a monopoly man-like, caviar toting plutocrat. For the record, I don’t actually blame Romney for what he said. After all, that’s exactly what his donors want to hear at that type of event.
But two things happened that should not have. First, campaigns shouldn’t let cameras into private fundraisers. That’s basically rule one: What happens with your donors stays with your donors.
Second, your candidate shouldn’t be saying things like that under any circumstances. There are ways of saying that poor people are moochers who won’t ever listen to your message without saying it exactly how Romney did.
They’re what we call dog whistles — a careful selection of words that inspire the reaction you want from a particular group, without alerting the general voting public to the message you’re conveying.
Again, that’s the sort of thing a sophisticated campaign does. Mitt Romney’s campaign has proven itself to be incapable of sophistication.
Given my various political involvements, people often ask me if I think President Barack Obama will win and why. I would never make a definite prediction this far out, although Nate Silver, a blogger for The New York Times, gives him a more-than-70-percent chance of winning.
If Obama does win, it will be because his campaign is much better. Obama For America has had campaign staff on the ground mobilizing volunteers and voters for over a year. If you’re counting, they started even before the Republican primary campaign began.
If Romney wants to have a reasonable chance of winning in November, he should seriously consider handing out some more pink slips — this time to his campaign staff.
Colin Crowley is a senior political science and philosophy major. His column appears online weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @colincrowley.
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