Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’

“Imagine if John McCain had narrowly lost to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire last night, and, when you down broke down the results, it was clear that the voters most concerned about the war in Iraq and terrorism went heavily for Romney—plus thought he would make a better commander in chief,” writes James Pethokoukis in a USNews.com blog burst titled Struggling Romney Needs an ‘Oprah Moment’ to Win

That would kind of kill McCain’s whole rationale for running, don’tcha think?

Well, that is pretty much what did happen, except in reverse. Voters who were most concerned about the economy went strongly—41 to 21 percent—for McCain over Romney, the multimillionaire venture capitalist. The Wall Street legend. The guy with the M.B.A. The guy who turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics. The guy who says, “I know how the economy works.” Even worse, Romney lost to a fellow who has admitted in the past that economic policy is not his strong suit and that he might need more of an expert as his veep if nominated.

See, the problem with Romney isn’t necessarily that voters don’t like his ideas—such as cutting corporate taxes or eliminating investment taxes for middle-class voters. It’s that voters don’t think he understands their problems. Until that hurdle is overcome, ideas don’t matter.

You have to do politics before you can do policy [...]

We concur. The struggle for NH has entered its archival phase. As we wrote before of Iowa, this is when the political community and various media dispute, interpret, or redact he outcomes of the contest.

Team Romney has failed at every task it set for itself. It failed to consolidate the social-conservative base as evidenced by the exit polling from IA and NH. It crucially failed to return clear decisions for Romney in IA and NH. Further, Romney massively-titanically overspent and received precious little in return. How much? Upwards of US$20 million of his own money on top of the US$80 million that he raised, but no one really knows. Tellingly, Team Romney isn’t saying.

Romney now leads in delegates, but by one estimate Romney has spent almost US$1 million dollars per delegate—so the question then becomes, given this preposterously low ROI, just how sustainable is the Romney tribe’s campaign?

This is also when a new discursive front opens up against Romney’s flank as

(a) pressure for Romney to withdraw begins to develop

-and-

(b) doubt, dissensus, and discord breakout within Romney’s own ranks.

To address (a) Romney has radically scaled back his operations, particularly his massive and massively ineffective media buys. To address (b) Romney has issued internal memos and issued promises to major financial backers.

“BOSTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decided to pull his advertising from South Carolina, where he was hoping to take on Mike Huckabee and John McCain, and from Florida, where Rudy Giuliani has been spending time and money,” write Jim Kuhnenn and Glen Johnson in an AP release titled Romney Pulls Ads in SC, Fla.

“We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Wednesday.

The decision comes on the heels of back-to-back second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney, a multimillionaire who had used some of his own cash, had invested heavily in both states, counting on the two to give him the momentum toward the nomination.

Earlier on Wednesday, Romney had assured his top financial backers that he will win the upcoming Michigan primary, as he and his staff worked to soothe supporters unsettled by his losses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

“It’s just getting started,” the presidential contender told hundreds of supporters gathered at a convention center for a followup to the “National Call Day” that raised an unprecedented $6.5 million a year ago

He promised to carry on to Michigan, which votes Jan. 15, as well as Nevada and South Carolina, which vote Jan. 19.

The public spectacle, a rarity for the normally tightly controlled Romney political operation, included appeals for calm from a top financial backer, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, and a top political supporter, former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri [...]

To assuage his paid staff and hirelings in field, Romney’s strategist Alex Gage issued one of his infamous “internal memos.”

Gage’s argument: Despite Romney’s losses and setbacks, “the Republican race remains wide open.” Talking points include:

  • Gov. Romney’s message of change generated momentum in New Hampshire.
  • Gov. Romney is the best candidate in the Republican field to match up against the Democrats in the fall.
  • No other candidate is competitive in as many states as Gov. Romney.
  • Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory moving forward.

That the Republican race remains “wide open” is true on its face. The other points in support of a continued Romney candidacy are false or simply meaningless until Romney solves his ROI problem, especially as the campaign transitions to a far more long-term, slow-accumulation-of-delegates strategy. Did e.g. Romney’s message of change generate momentum? No. Or: even if the answer is yes, the outcome of the contest indicates that it was not enough momentum. And how much did Romney spend per day in NH to promulgate his non-momentum message?

Sargent: “[Grrrr-Romney] was spending $100,000 a week through October, and he’s now upped the ante to $200,000 a week [in NH]”

Does e.g. Romney have a clear path to victory? Maybe. Perhaps. But at his current spending levels it he would have to blow his entire fortune to pursue it.

What Romney needs, and does not have, is a message that connects with people on the ground—a narrative, a story, something, anything. A successful message could resolve or at least ease his ROI problem. As Pethokoukis argues, what Romney needs is an Oprah moment.

Only Romney needs more than a moment. And Romney’s own moment may have already passed.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[...] “Predictably enough, most media commentators have totally misinterpreted the nature of Mike Huckabee’s big win in the Iowa GOP caucuses,” writes the estimable Michael Medved in a townhall.com blog burst titled Stop Lying About Huckabee and Evangelicals!

Conventional wisdom says that he swept to victory based on overwhelming support from Evangelicals, but conventional wisdom is flat-out wrong. According to the exit polls used by major news networks, a majority of voters who described themselves as “evangelical” or “born again” Christians actually voted against Huckabee –with 54% splitting their support among Romney, McCain, Thompson and Ron Paul. Yes, Huckabee’s 46% of Evangelicals was a strong showing, but it was directly comparable to his commanding 40% of women, or 40% of all voters under the age of 30, or 41% of those earning less than $30,000 a year. His powerful appeal to females, the young and the poor make him a different kind of Republican, who connects with voting blocs the GOP needs to win back. He’s hardly the one-dimensional religious candidate of media caricature.

It’s also idiotic and dishonest for observers to keep harping on anti-Mormon bigotry as the basis for Mitt Romney’s disappointing showing. Yeah, it’s true that 81% of Evangelicals voted against Romney— but 75% of ALL Iowa Republicans voted against him, so where is the big evidence of “anti-Mormon bigotry”? In other words, there’s only a 6% difference between his general rejection and his Evangelical rejection. There’s no evidence, in other words, that those who described themselves as “born again” or “evangelical” faced an especially tough time voting for a Mormon. Romney, after all, finished second among this group—as he finished second among the electorate in general. Among Evangelicals, Mormon Mitt beat John McCain, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul by a ratio of nearly two-to-one…a bigger, not smaller margin of victory over these other non-Mormon candidates than he managed to achieve in the electorate in general. The message ought to be obvious: the core issue was phoniness, not faith– and the religious and non-religious alike react badly to phoniness.

Meanwhile, 87% of non-Evangelicals voted against Huckabee…. compared to only 66% of all Iowa Republicans…. in other words a 21% gap! Think about this…. THERE’S MORE EVIDENCE IN THE EXIT POLLS OF ANTI-EVANGELICAL PREJUDICE than there is of anti-Mormon prejudice. Huckabee did well across the board with all groups in the exit polls except one: the 40% who said “no” to the question, “Are you a ‘born-again’ or ‘evangelical’ Christian?” He finished fourth among this group, behind Romney, Thompson and McCain.

The evidence is pretty clear, isn’t it? The preferences of Evangelicals mirrored those of Iowans in general.[...]

[...] Those who insist, over and over again, that the Iowa Caucuses reflected “Christian identity politics” or a “tidal wave of Evangelical support” are basing their analysis on feelings, not facts; on vapors, not voters. It’s dishonest to say that a guy who just won a crushing state-wide victory, without even winning the majority of his own religious group, displayed a one dimension appeal to Christian zealots only.

This endlessly repeated story line is not only tired, it’s a lie [...]

Thank you, Mr. Medved. The emphases are ours, all ours.
Our question: is Romney listening? Probably not.

the political genius of Romney: what Romney says he learned from his costly US$10 million dollar rout in Iowa anyone else could have learned by simply listening to Iowans

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[ ...] “[Romney]’s got a big checkbook so he can survive any kind of showing and stay in the game,” writes Dick Morris in a dickmorris.com post titled EYES ON IOWA: WHAT THEY NEED

But a defeat in Iowa might make him vulnerable to McCain in New Hampshire. A loss in the first two states would cost him Michigan, and he would limp into Super Tuesday with only a checkbook to protect him. Only. [...]

Hence: Romney needs nothing; Romney needs no one. Campaigns organized on a more rational basis—campaigns more tightly coupled to far broader bases of funding, support, and the pursuit of mutual goals—are constrained in what they can say or do. Their complicated relationship to their own emerging coalitions demands constant learning, experiment, evaluation, and review. Romney, on the other hand, is a solitary and apolitical apparition that rises or falls of its own resources: Romney is beholden to none, Romney is responsible to none.

So what price does Romney pay for relentlessly sliming his rivals?

“DES MOINES, IOWA–Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would ‘absolutely’ continue running negative advertisements against his adversaries as the election continues,” writes Amanda C-C-C-C-Carpenter (it’s cold in Iowa) in a Townhall.com blog burst titled Romney Promises More Negative Ads

Romney said this at a campaign rally at Principle Financial building in downtown Des Moines when a questioner asked if he planned to keep going negative on opponents … etc.

Credit for this find goes to Adam of The Palmetto Scoop, who issues this conclusion:

[...] This means that, unless Romney is out of the race after the New Hampshire or Michigan primaries, we can expect to see millions of dollars worth of negative campaigning in South Carolina. And the worse Romney does tonight and next week, the dirtier it will be.

Oh joy [...]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“DES MOINES, Iowa – More than a few politicos have viewed Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith as a political liability detracting from his fight for the Republican presidential nomination,” writes Dave Levinthal of the Dallas Morning News in a burst of reportage titled Mormons could play role in Romney win

But if Mr. Romney wins today’s Iowa caucuses, he may have members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to thank.

Iowa’s Mormon population is small – more than 22,500 members of all ages, according to church statistics. But they are notably politically active, and many are backing Mr. Romney. That is potentially significant with the tight race in Iowa, as polls indicate Mr. Romney effectively running even with Mike Huckabee for the lead.

A swing of just a couple of thousand votes could determine who places first …

See:

Team Romney’s Iowa expectations ruse, the Mormon “orange plan”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Credit Chuck Todd for candor,” writes the painfully literal, naive, and unreflective Mark Finkelstein in a NewsBusters expository gloss titled Iowa: ‘Media Ready to Take 3rd-Place McCain Finish and Catapult Him to NH Win’

The NBC News Political Director has acknowledged that the media is poised to take a third-place finish by John McCain in Iowa, declare him the winner and catapult the Arizona senator to victory in New Hampshire …

From the interview that Finklestein quotes:

CHUCK TODD: Yeah you know, I hate to be existential here, but the media — and I say this as if I’m not a member of it — but the media does seem to be ready to will John McCain out of Iowa [i.e., with his "ticket punched" for NH]. It is a stunning thing, and if I were Mitt Romney, or Giuliani or Mike Huckabee I’d be like “wait a minute. You’re gonna take a third place finish and somehow use that to catapult this guy, with free media, and get him the victory in New Hampshire?” And frankly that is what’s gonna happen. There’s a reason John McCain is sort of the king of working the media. He’s doing a great job of it.

MATTHEWS: Gary Hart back in 1984 got 17% in Iowa, Walter Mondale got 49%. Guess who “won”? Gary Hart “won.” The media declared him the winner and he won in New Hampshire. You are so dead right, if it happens … etc.

Well, duh.

No, Finklestein, you have not stumbled across a conspiracy of media elites to dupe the American electorate, but precisely the opposite. What is at stake for Todd and Matthews is the interpretation of events and how to accurately report them.

Here is the question at issue: Should the decision that Iowa returns be accepted on its face, or should observers consider and compare other data, other evidence?

Our own answer: Long ago we argued that Romney had so over-spent and so over-organized in Iowa and New Hampshire that he had prejudiced the outcome—any outcome—in advance. In other words, Romney has denied himself the possibility of an unequivocal victory in either state. Will Romney win? Of course he will—he has wildly out-spent all his rivals combined. So a Romney win is by definition a non-story: dog bites man is not a story. But for Gov. Huckabee with no money or organization to eke out a close second, or Sen. McCain a close third—this resembles man bites dog, which is a story. And should Romney lose?—this would be the story of the decade. See:

Romney poised to fail in Iowa no matter what the outcome (iii)—Romney’s massive spending using his own money has denied Romney the perception of a clean win on fair and equal terms

Our own conclusion? Iowa and New Hampshire no longer matter no matter who wins. Romney will have spent US$80 million dollars—over US$20 million of it his own—for no clear return. But please understand: Team Romney’s death-spiral drain-circling began over a year ago. All of Romney’s alleged successes since then have been an illusion.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“The reasons many establishment operatives still see a Huckabee win as unlikely, polls notwithstanding, were underscored by Monday’s debacle,” writes Mike Madden in a Salon.com news feature titled Can money buy Mitt Romney love in Iowa? The CEO candidate tries to grind out an expensive victory over a surging, underfunded and baffling upstart
Note how Mike Madden’s story hinges on Romney’s massive spending.

… Huckabee announced to a crowd of reporters that the anti-Romney commercial he’d cut the day before would not, in fact, ever be broadcast — and then proceeded to show the ad to the reporters. Huckabee surprised even some of his own staffers with the ploy. The campaign had apparently been divided about whether to put the ad up in the first place, but the move wound up looking either brazenly cynical or shockingly stupid — or both — and the reaction from the political press was withering.

It was the reaction from the Romney campaign, though, that may have been more telling. Spokesman Madden sent out a careful press release that linked the fiasco to the Romney message that Huckabee can’t handle scrutiny. But when I talked to Madden later in the day, he just sounded flabbergasted. Romney’s team had watched the nation’s top political reporters laugh in Huckabee’s face three days before the caucuses, to little avail. They had won the news cycle, but not the war. They still couldn’t figure out quite what to make of their candidate’s biggest rival — or how to make him go away … etc.

Note Kevin Madden’s despairing wonderment at what any rational person could have predicted—in fact, we did predict it, many times, right here in this blog.
When you overshoot the mark—when you have no discernment, no sense of proportion, when you rocket right past the culminating point of success—all your former strengths and strong points suddenly become points of exceeding vulnerability, and you can no longer trust your own perceptions. Example: Romney’s principal strength, his vast personal wealth, has become the organizing principle of his organizational failure as he no longer controls it; it, rather, controls him.

“Mitt Romney said last year that it would be ‘akin to a nightmare’ to have to fund his presidential campaign out of his personal fortune,” writes Howie Carr in a BostonHerald.com news feature titled Mitt finds $20M can’t buy voters’ love

But I can think of worse things. One would be spending $20 million of your money . . . and then losing. Forget “akin to” – that would be the politician’s ultimate nightmare.

So now Mitt Romney is about to find out how much it costs to buy – or fail to buy – an election in 2008. A lot more than the $6 million it cost him to buy the Massachusetts governorship in 2002, that’s for sure. Forget the $63 million Mitt raised through the first three quarters of 2007 (which included $17 million of his own).

Let’s talk about how much of his cash Mitt has thrown into the campaign by now. We won’t know until Jan. 31, but it’s got to be way more than $20 million.

And for what? Who knows at this point? By this time in most campaigns, the candidate has a pretty good idea if he’s going to win or lose. But this week the polls are all over the place.

And for at least another day he finds himself in a two-front war, with John McCain in the East and Mike Huckabee, the dope from Hope, in the West. Two-front wars are tough – just ask Napoleon and Hitler …

[ ... ]

… How does Mitt explain to the partners at Bain Capital if he loses to Mike Huckabee? I mean, that would be like losing to Warren Tolman or John Lakian. Completely unacceptable.

No wonder Mitt has been spending money like a drunken sailor, although the difference between the sailor and Mitt is that Romney doesn’t have the bad-ice-cube excuse. Everyone has the occasional moment where suddenly you can’t control your spending – you’re trying to impress some babe, maybe, or you’re in a high-stakes poker game. Which I suppose is what Mitt’s in, although I think by this time he thought he’d be reacting to Hillary, not Huckabee.

Bhutto gets shot, and Huckabee apologizes to Pakistan, like the United States shot her or something. And what happened after Huck made a fool of himself? He went up two points in the national tracking polls.

I hope Mitt pulls it out in both states, but if he doesn’t, the reporters will be grilling him in a few weeks about why he blew 20 million in Steve Forbes-like futility.

To which Mitt should reply, “I was drunk.” So what if it’s not true? It’s an answer that always works for the Kennedys …

Drunk. We concur. And Romney is the rational candidate. Question: When did the term “rational” has come to mean its opposite? Ask yourself: do you really want someone who so easily loses control of himself as your president? Imagine this man at war …Also: Romney’s scorched earth tactics are costly in ways that cannot be readily quantified. Back to Mike Madden of Salon.com:

… The TV and mail advertising blitzkrieg, though, has done little to endear Romney to any of his rivals. “He’s given up on trying to persuade anybody that he’s the right candidate,” said McCain’s Iowa chairman, Dave Roederer. “He’s just trying to persuade them that everybody else is the wrong candidate.” Another Republican strategist said, with some relish, that a Huckabee win here would be “a massive upset” given everything Romney’s spent in the state. Huckabee and McCain have practically signed a mutual defense pact over the campaign’s closing weeks, with each side rushing to protect the other from every Romney attack … etc.

How can a man who so blithely, thoughtlessly, and consistently alienates and estranges everyone around him govern?

Also see:

“WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two negative ads recently launched by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has spent more on advertising than any other candidate, either misrepresent his rival’s records or include distortions, according to a CNN analysis of the commercials,” writes Howard Kurtz in a CNN.com release titled Analysis: Romney attack ad misrepresents facts

The ads come as the Republican air war has erupted into a series of attacks ads, just days before the Iowa caucuses on January 3, Wyoming caucuses on January 5, and the New Hampshire primary on January 8.

In one Romney television ad running in New Hampshire, the announcer calls rival Sen. John McCain “an honorable man” then goes on to ask “but is he the right Republican for the future?”

“McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently…” the announcer charges. “Even voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security.”

But the ad distorts the position of the Arizona Republican, who has narrowed Romney’s lead in New Hampshire. McCain’s compromise legislation introduced last summer, which was backed by President Bush, would have required illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and pay a fine for breaking the law before applying for legal statusmore, so much more

Would an honorable man like Romney distort the records and positions of his rivals!?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister riding a wave of support from fundamentalist Christians, tops Mitt Romney for first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans planning to attend Thursday’s Republican caucuses,” writes Jonathan Roos in a DeMoines Register article titled GOP poll: Huckabee maintains lead over Romney

In a battle of former governors from Arkansas and Massachusetts, Huckabee leads Romney, 32 percent to 26 percent.

This despite months of massive spending, organizing, and near media saturation by Romney:

This despite Romney’s relentless attacks on the person and character of Gov. Huckabee for weeks now, combined with the GOP establishment’s infantile freakout over Gov. Huckabee’s rise:

Back to Roos:

“I really like it that he is a religious man and social conservative. That is pretty important to me, especially the right to life,” said Huckabee supporter Alyssa Stealey, 20, of Charter Oak, who is also drawn to his call for tax reform.

Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister riding a wave of support from fundamentalist Christians, tops Mitt Romney for first place in a new Des Moines Register poll of Iowans planning to attend Thursday’s Republican caucuses.

In a battle of former governors from Arkansas and Massachusetts, Huckabee leads Romney, 32 percent to 26 percent.

“I really like it that he is a religious man and social conservative. That is pretty important to me, especially the right to life,” said Huckabee supporter Alyssa Stealey, 20, of Charter Oak, who is also drawn to his call for tax reform … etc.

The DeMoines Register poll is consistent with other polling:

“Well, there’s a new Iowa poll out: the Reuters-Zogby, which shows Mike Huckabee with a two point lead over Mitt Romney,” writes the writer of the watersblogged blog in a post titled Romneybust!

Since the most recent poll has Huckabee leading- and since Romney’s newly-minted RCP average lead (owing to at a poll with yet another pro-Romney result so out of step with the others to be suspect) has shrunken overnight to .04%- I guess we must be witnessing a Romney implosion.

Or at least that’s the conclusion one reaches if one uses the the logic pro-Romney folks have been using over and over and over during the past two weeks to demonstrate that a “Huckabust” was underway (“Yes! Huckabee is imploding!…uh, ok, NOW. Now Huckabee is imploding… well, OK. Now. Now for sure….”)

Have to congratulate them on one thing, though. Just before this most recent poll- the one that shows Huckabee in the lead- the Romney folks finally managed, after two weeks of proclaiming that their candidate had recovered and that Mike Huckabee was history- for the first time since early December have actually been able to cite two consecutive Iowa polls showing Romney in the lead!

With tne latest poll, of course, the streak is over. Worse, the Huckabee lead is one point bigger than that shown by the Reuters-Zogby poll of the day before.

That poll was, for some reason, not included in the RCP average- and seems, however tentatively, to suggest a trend toward Huck … etc.

Conclusion: Even if Romney ekes out a victory—or: even if Romney scores a double-digit blow-out—Romney’s fantastically low ROI, i.e. how much he has expended for how little he got in return and against under-funded and un-organized rivals, will be the real story coming out of the Iowa. MarkG of race42008.com makes the case tongue-in-cheek:

My gut feeling tells me Mitt will now swap places with Huck for the actual caucus figure. The headlines will say Mitt spent his estimated 9 million bucks wisely to get circa 30,000 votes. The press will speak long and verbosely about how wise Mitt was to finance his campaign by as much as a third, and speculation will run wild for days about how much of Mitt’s finances were from his own pockets … etc.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“CBNNews.com – First Mitt Romney went negative on Mike Huckabee in Iowa after he saw his lead slip away. (oh, wait,, that’s right he was just contrasting positions because he just has a “fundamental disagreement” with Huckabee..right),” writes an incredulous David Brody for CBN’s The Brody File in a post aptly titled Is Romney Desperate?

The last week or so he’s been going negaive on McCain in New Hampshire where he sees his lead slipping away there as well.

Listen, negative attacks are part of campaigning. Most candidates engage in them. But here’s the problem when it comes to Romney.

Fair or not, perceived or otherwise, Romney has developed the reputation as someone who will change positions or just say anything to get elected President. When he goes negative against Huckabee and McCain, it plays into the perception that is already formed about him. It makes him look desperate. The mental picture is that Romney’s arms are flailing in every direction looking to hit something. McCain on taxes may work but Romney has some of his own issues with increasing fees in Massachusetts. Hitting Huckabee on immigration may also work but Romney needs to duck for cover on that issue too because of some of his past statements.

We concur. See:

Back to Brody:

The problem here for Romney is that he’s not pure on these issues either so everytime he attacks, he gives his opponents a chance to strike back. John McCcain has been skewering Romney lately by mouth and press release.

In other words, when Romney attacks e.g. Sen. McCain, he provides the Senator sudden and immediate earned media opportunities the Senator would not otherwise enjoy—in still other words, Romney’s high-risk, high-cost strategy drives, perversely, the costs of other campaigns down.

Back to Brody:

Romney makes himself out to be a Reagan conservative (remember, he represents the “Republican wing of the Repulican party”) and has been calling out everybody else’s shortcomings. The issue though is that Romney hasn’t been a Reagan conservative long enough to build up the “street cred” to do his attacking.

The emphases are ours, all ours.

Here is where we discuss what it means for a candidate with high negatives—e.g., Romney—to go negative against competitors with lower negatives:

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

To address Brody’s question, is Romney’s desperate?—whether desperate or not he is certainly hostile, abusive, and mean-spirited.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“MANCHESTER, N.H. – The battle between Mitt Romney and John McCain in New Hampshire’s Republican primary took a significant turn yesterday as Romney unveiled his first television advertisement attacking McCain’s record,” writes Michael Kranish, with the apt and able assistance of Michael Levenson in a Boston Globe article titled Attacking McCain seen risky for Romney

But the strategy entailed significant risks, possibly turning voters against both candidates and toward another contender, analysts said.

Romney’s negatives are preposterously high, higher than McCain’s. We discuss what it means for someone with high negatives to go negative on an opponent with lower negatives here:

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

Back to Kranish:

The ad calls McCain “an honorable man,” but questions whether he is “the right Republican for the future.” It says McCain favored amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed President Bush’s tax cuts. McCain, who has revised his immigration proposal and later supported the tax cuts, laughed off the ad as the move of a candidate in a tailspin.

“I was encouraged because it was very clear that Governor Romney attacks when people are catching up with him,” McCain said at a news conference shortly after arriving in Manchester yesterday. “I understand why he is talking about the future, since he spent most of his time running away from his past.”

Last night McCain struck back at Romney, releasing a television commercial that quotes some stinging editorials this week about his opponent. Most prominently, the ad quotes the Concord Monitor editorial published on Sunday that urged voters to reject Romney, saying, “If a candidate is a phony . . . we’ll know it.” The ad also quotes the New Hampshire Union Leader saying that “Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that . . . Mitt Romney has not.”

By using the words of newspaper editorial writers instead of an anonymous announcer, McCain is hoping to add a tone of credibility and authority to his advertisement.

In response, Romney defended his ad and blasted McCain’s.

“We worked very hard to make sure it was accurate and honest and looks at contrasting issues,” Romney told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa. “I begin the ad by indicating he’s an honorable man. I believe he is, and a good person. I make no attacks on his character. I make no attacks of a personal nature whatsoever.

“I’ve just seen the text of his ad,” Romney added. “It’s obviously of a very different nature. It’s an attack ad. It attacks me personally. It’s nasty. It’s mean-spirited. Frankly, it tells you more about Senator McCain than it does about me – that he’d run an ad like that” … etc.

Let us pass in review. Romney attacks Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain strikes back only harder. And Romney cries foul? On what possible grounds does this primped, preened, powdered, and pampered little man—a man who would be a complete non-entity were it not for his wealth and life of privilege—believe that he is entitled to lie about and abuse others with impunity?

Back to Kranish:

… David Carney, a New Hampshire political consultant who is not allied with any presidential campaign, said that Romney’s strategy is risky because, even if it turns voters against McCain, it might also turn them against Romney.

“If the ad is so successful it gets people to decide not to vote for McCain, it is highly unlikely they will go to Romney,” Carney said. “In a multicandidate primary race, it doesn’t help the attacker.”

Nonetheless, the ad is reminiscent of one of the most famous ads in the history of the New Hampshire primary, in which George H. W. Bush in 1988 attacked his rival, Senator Bob Dole, as “Senator Straddle.”

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducts polls for the Globe, said it is unclear whether the Romney ad will be effective because McCain has built up his reputation as a straight talker, which Smith said many voters respect “even if they disagree with him.”

We concur with Smith, and argue our case here:

Romney circles drain, goes desperately negative in Iowa AND New Hampshire

Another point: Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar. Will Romney’s negative advertising be as spectacularly ineffective as his other advertising?

Edsall: “Since January 1, 2007, the former Massachusetts governor has spent well in excess of $80 million, including at least $17.4 million of his own money, paying media fees in excess of $30 million, salaries of roughly $16 million, and consulting payments of more than $15 million”—more on Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar (iii)

Our conclusion: Romney believes that the GOP nomination is rightfully his. And why not?—he bought and paid for it. Therefore: Romney has demonstrated himself willing to destroy the characters and reputations of his rivals. Our question: How soon—and in what specific form—will the anti-Romney backlash suddenly appear?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.