January 22, 2012

What a difference a week makes.

Hard to believe just a week ago the Beltway pundits were all ready to coronate Mitt Romney as the de facto GOP nominee. Now, after getting crushed in South Carolina by a resurgent Newt Gingrich, all the pressure is on Romney to sell himself anew to Republican primary voters. He ought to know by now that the cool, business-savvy persona isn’t going to play this year: conservatives and Republican voters have had enough of a “Massachusetts moderate” schmoozer who plays get-along with a mainstream dino-media that openly shows its disdain for Republicans and conservatives. This year, GOP primary voters want a fighter who isn’t afraid to call out Barack Obama, his mainstream media ass-kissers, and the milquetoast Republican establishment in Washington out for what they are. As Hugh Hewitt writes:

The South Carolina electorate didn’t vote for a person or a platform; they voted for a personality — the fiery, combative, [mainstream media]-hating Newt. They want the GOP nominee to charge at the president, throw around the term Alinksyite, push back at John King and Juan Williams, and shout out the absurdity of Barack Obama as president and the destructiveness of his combination of epic incompetence and awful ideology.

I suspect that the GOP as a whole has a lot of this pent-up anger at the Manhattan-Beltway media elites, and they too have been cool to cool hand Mitt as a result.

As National Review Online’s Terence Jeffrey adds:

Conservatives not only resent the liberal media for trying to pick the Republican nominee (n.b. the media prefer Romney) but they also resent Republican politicians who, once elected, spend their careers appeasing the media while abandoning conservative principles (n.b. the supine leadership of the Republican party in the House of Representatives). Conservatives want a president whose attitude toward the media matches the attitude Gingrich has shown in recent debates. A president with that kind of attitude, they hope, might actually govern as a conservative.

As I alluded to on last Friday’s post after the Thursday night debate, if Romney wants to win the GOP nomination, he’s going to need some significant re-tooling of his message. As an amateur political consultant, here is what I would recommend:

1. Let Newt be Newt. Rather than go after Gingrich hard and negative, I would use my business experience to highlight the differences between you and he when it comes to getting this country’s fiscal house in order. Pound away at the deficit by personalizing to individual Americans what it would mean if this country continues down the reckless spending and borrowing road it is traveling. Comnpare this nation’s debt to something people can relate to – like the iceberg in front of the Titanic. Talk about the danger to people’s stock market investments and 401K plans if Obama is re-elected President. But more than anything, make it personal. You’ll never be one of “the people”, but you can use language that the “regular folks” understand to contrast your “disciplined approach” to Newt’s “grandiose ideas”.

2. Get rid of that weird, smug, used-car dealer half-smile you have while people are asking you questions. Project the kind of serious businessman demeanor you might have used at Bain Capital when reviewing a failing company’s ledgers. You’ve spent the better part of eight months acting as if the nomination was yours for the keeping, you now have to project a more serious and fighting demeanor without being seen as shrill, negative, and panicky.

3. Go after Barack Obama with specifics – people don’t understand “European-style socialism”, and it’s not as if there isn’t plenty to talk about: the blood on his administration’s hands as a result of the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, the loss of billions of dollars in betting on “green energy” companies like Solyndra and others; the Keystone pipeline decision; Obamacare and its impact on Medicare; the administration’s undelared war on South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, and Arizona over voting laws and immigration, just to name a few. Get specific – that’s why Gingrich’s “food stamp President” line resonated so well with SC voters.

4. More than anything else, release your damned taxes and use it to tell your personal story. You’re a successful businessman, for God’s sake. Use your tax return as a way to tell your story about success. Make it a story that individual people can relate to. Show some humility and make the case that your story shows what any American can do if they work hard enough and educate themselves enough. Forget about the Occupy Wall Street losers; the fact is, American love to make money so they can buy things. Frame your success as a story that others can identify with, make it something like this: “Look, if I can do it, you can do it too, but if you don’t elect someone like me who will change the direction this country is going, no one, not me, not you – will be able to make it in America”.

Fortunately for you, Mitt, the odds are still with you and Gingrich remains a flawed candidate capable of self-destructing at any moment. But another debate where you’re hemming and hawing about your tax returns and not getting into specifics about where the problems are and what you’ll do to fix them if elected, and I’m afraid you’re in for more than a bloody nose.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:05 | Comments (0)
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