Sage Advice for Mitt Romney


 

 

Slowly, but surely, the political season will resume this week. After the shocking events of last week you might not think it will be business as usual. But, fear not…Campaign 2012 will return…whether that’s a good thing or not..well..I’ll leave that up to you…

In the meantime, Byron York offers analysis and advice for the Romney camp:

From The Washington Examiner…

 3 hurdles for Romney as campaign intensifies

The Republican primary race was longer and more grueling than Mitt Romney hoped. But for all its rigors, the contest left three key Romney issues unresolved. Each will play a role in the general election campaign — but in a different way than in the primaries.

The first is the question of Romney’s business career and taxes. In the GOP race, Newt Gingrich led the charge in accusing Romney of exploiting companies and laying off workers while head of the private equity firm Bain Capital. Gingrich’s attack was clumsy and poorly researched. But even if it had been more skillful, many Republicans just didn’t want to hear any criticism of Romney’s business record. Some equated such criticism with an attack on capitalism itself. Under fire from his own side, Gingrich backed off.

That meant Romney didn’t really have to work very hard to defend his Bain record. But now the Obama campaign is hitting Romney harder than Gingrich ever did. Even when prominent Democrats like Cory Booker, Ed Rendell and Bill Clinton criticized the Bain attacks, the Obama campaign kept banging away. The president’s operatives believe, and have polling data to suggest, that attacking Bain will work — not everywhere in the country, not with all voters, but with some key swing voters in the some of the most important key states. If Obama’s Bain attacks work only in Ohio, for example, that alone might be the president’s margin of victory.

As far as taxes are concerned, Romney’s Republican rivals pressured him to release his returns earlier than he had planned. But Romney stuck to his decision to release only his 2010 return and promised to make public his 2011 return when it is finished. That was enough to take the heat off in the GOP race. But it hasn’t been enough for Obama, who will keep pounding Romney — and accusing him of hiding something — until Election Day.

The second unresolved issue for Romney is Romneycare. In the primaries, the former Massachusetts governor argued that creating a mandate-driven universal health care system was appropriate for the governor of a state, but that it was unacceptable for a president and Congress to install a national program like Obamacare. That distinction was enough for Republican voters who might have felt uneasy about Romneycare but chose not to hold it against their leading candidate.

Now, after the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision, Romney is making the even finer distinction that the individual mandate is a tax as far as Obamacare is concerned but is a penalty in the context of a state program like Romneycare. This hair-splitting requires far more explaining than is good for any candidate.

The problem for Romney won’t be those Republican voters who dislike Obamacare — they’ll certainly vote for Romney. The problem will be undecided voters who don’t know a lot about the former Massachusetts governor. When Obama argues — it will undoubtedly happen in the face-to-face presidential debates — that Romney doesn’t like Obamacare now but did the same thing himself in Massachusetts, Obama’s goal will be to show those undecided voters that Romney is a man who will say anything to get elected.

The third factor is Mormonism. For the most part, Romney’s religion didn’t arise in the Republican race. It’s possible it won’t in the general election. But if the campaign reaches the final weeks and Romney is leading Obama, some Democrats will find it hard to resist trying to make Mormonism a factor in the race. They tried hard in 1994, when Romney unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Ted Kennedy for a Senate seat from Massachusetts.

This time, their target will be a small but electorally significant group of independent voters who have reservations about voting for a Mormon.

For years now, Gallup has asked a poll question, “If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person who happened to be a Mormon, would you vote for that person?” In a 2011 poll, Gallup found that 27 percent of Democrats said they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, while a smaller number, 18 percent, of Republicans said the same. For independents, the number was 19 percent. That’s a big enough number for Democrats to try to exploit, should they become desperate enough to do it.

In the end, it’s hard to see how any or all of the three issues — business history, Romneycare, Mormonism — can outweigh the economy as a determining factor in the election. But if bad news economic news continues — and it appears it will — look for Democrats to push hard on all three fronts.

Byron York, The Examiner’s chief political correspondent, can be contacted atbyork@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blogposts appear on washingtonexaminer.com.

 

 

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