Posts Tagged ‘negative advertising’
“This is what people like to call ‘industrial policy,’ and what Jonah Goldberg [of the National Review, which endorsed Romney for president] likes to call liberal fascism – big business and big government working hand-in-glove for the purposes of economic nationalism,” writes Ross Douthat in a theatlantic.com blog burst titled Where’s the Outrage
Douthat’s claim is a rejoinder to this quote from Romney’s infamous address to some insignificant group of nobodies whose name we refuse to recall:
[...] “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership” [...]
Back to Douthat:
It’s “sustained and detailed,” all right, just as Frum says – a sustained and detailed infringement on free-market principle, and one that appeals to voters in places like Michigan precisely because it goes much further to the left than Mike Huckabee’s substance-free talk about how the current period of economic growth isn’t doing all that well by the working class, or John McCain’s straight talk about how Michiganders can’t expect the federal government to bring back the glory days of Chrysler and GM. But because conservatives spend way, way more time worrying about the spectre of “class warfare” than they do about than the nexus between big business and the Republican Party, Romney gets off with a mild slap on the wrist, while McCain and Huckabee get tarred as liberals.
I’m overstating the case a bit, obviously; there a variety of good reasons, besides their response to Michigan’s economic pain, why McCain and Huckabee have come by their crypto-liberal reputations. But the extent to which Romney is getting a free pass for his back-to-the-’70s, “D.C. will save the auto industry” promises , while conservatives are still obsessing over how John McCain’s 2000-2001 preference for a more progressive tax code makes him a “class warrior,” seems more than a little ridiculous [...]
Yuh-huh. We concur. See:
Meanwhile, Romney attacks Gov. Huckabee through the Club for Growth on grounds of Gov. Huckabee’s allegedly non-free market policies. See:
“The Club for Growth has an affiliated 527 group, Club for Growth.net, running anti-Mike Huckabee ads in early primary states,” writes Team Huckabee in a Mike Huckabee for President post titled What Does $585,000 buy you
- At least $585,000 in contributions from Mitt Romney financial backers.
- Club for Growth has spent $750,000 against Governor Huckabee in Iowa, South Carolina and Michigan [...]
Operating under cover of 527s is part of Romney’s overall strategy—the following is from a left-of-center blog titled Think Progress:
[...] To hit McCain, Romney has relied on an anti-environment front group, the American Environmental Coalition (AEC) to do the work for him. Last week, George Landrith, the co-Chairman of the group, likened McCain to Al Gore and compared the senator to a wolf in sheep’s clothing [...]
Romney attacks his opponents on the right through surrogates and 527s even as he veers hard to the left. Where is the real Romney in all this angry noise? What does the man really believe?
[...] “NPR reports that Mitt Romney is shaking up his staff today and taking more control himself,” writes Erick of Redstate.com in a blog burst titled Sources Say
Also, I hear from multiple sources that he has shifted some staff around, pulling people from Florida and sending them to Michigan [...]
Loses learn. This is one of the uses of adversity. Not so Team Romney, we used to argue, because Romney’s vast personal fortune insulates Team Romney from the costs of its failures.
But now there is evidence that the Romney is attempting to rationalize its organization and its operations. This could allow them to, you know, develop a message that connects with voters.
“Mitt Romney hasn’t extended his television presence into next week in South Carolina and Florida, an aide confirms,” writes Jonathan Martin of the politico.com in a blog burst titled Mitt not re-upping his S.C. and Fla. TV time
Romney has been on TV for months in both states, owning the airwaves long before his GOP rivals purchased their first spots.
But his multimillion-dollar investment in the two key states that may ultimately decide the GOP nominee has not paid off as he continues to lag behind rivals there.
Spokesman Kevin Madden declined to say whether their decision was based upon strategy or money [...]
[...] Ten days before South Carolina and 20 before Florida it’s difficult to see why he’d go dark in either crucial state, unless he’s decided to limit how much of his own cash he’s using on what has so far been a disappointing campaign.
UPDATE: Another indication that Romney is easing back on the self-funding — an adviser tells AP’s Glen Johnson that they recognize that their ad campaign wasn’t terribly effective and that now they’re going to focus on earned media. Also known as free media [...]
Martin interprets this move as weakness.
We interpret it as strength, amazing strength, strength combined with a stern resolve. Viz.: Romney has the money. So this is not the voice of grim necessity. Rather: This is a rational choice, a sober choice, and the correct choice.
These corrections suggest a more accurate interpretation of the upcoming contests and the players involved. These corrections also suggest a more accurate assessment of what is achievable and for what cost. Here is the money quote from the Glen Jonhson AP article that Martin links to:
[...] Conceding Romney had been hurt by a backlash against the hard-hitting television commercials the former Massachusetts governor ran against Huckabee and McCain, the adviser said the campaign hoped to “get away from the paid media and get more of the earned media.”
The shift would suggest a greater emphasis on generating newspaper, Internet and television coverage, especially in Michigan, where Romney was born and which is next on the primary calendar on Jan. 15. Romney flies to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday after a fundraiser in Boston [...]
A targeted, earned-media strategy will allow Team Romney to correctly assess the effectiveness of their messages. The data and experience that accrues from their efforts can help them increase their ROI and develop more effective messages. They will have at last organized themselves into a learning loop more closely coupled to their audiences and sources of support. They will in the very least be be spending less which will improve their image. In other words, they will have caught up with the other campaigns.
However: In the same article, Johnson also reports this:
[...] Nonetheless, Romney chided McCain and Huckabee for cherry-picking contests, with Huckabee having focused on Iowa while McCain focused on New Hampshire. Romney spent more than $7 million on advertising in each state, and held as many, if not more, events in both places than any of his GOP rivals [...]
But reports are that Romney is withdrawing staff from SC and FL to invest in MI. Also: reports indicate that Romney is scaling back his ad buys in SC and FL. In other words, Romney too has learned to cherry-pick. As we have argued elsewhere, what Romney calls “cherry-picking” is the most rational strategy in an election cycle with no clear coalition. Politics specifies itself in space—demography, geography, and ideology all intertwine and pass into one another—to build a coalition from the ground up you need to first establish a regional base.
The other candidates have staked out the parts of the map they want to contest. (The first candidate to recognize and act on the new reality was Mayor Giuliani. His strategy has yet to encounter its first real contest.)
Romney has yet to do that.
But: Evidence indicates that he now moves in that direction.
P.S. Hypothetical questions: What if Romney were to campaign on who he is instead of an invented Romney? What if Romney were to organize a rational and ethical campaign? What if Romney were to cease his grimly negative campaigning?
Answer: the governing assumptions of this web log would be all, and in an instant, overturned. And we would be forced to admit that this was the case or risk being accused of being irrational ourselves. At that moment we truly would become a Blog for Mitt as we would no longer have a case against a Romney presidency.
Question: Is such an outcome even possible?
Go Mitt!—i.e. stop lying, stop shape-shifting, stop sliming other candidates, and stop spending money that you did not raise through your own hard efforts, and go and be our President.
“I’m told the exit polls indicate voters didn’t like Mitt Romney’s ads, thought he went too negative,” writes Jim Geraghty in a Campaign Spot blog burst titled It’s called for McCain, which must have been terribly painful for Geraghty what with his fawning and obsequious devotion to Romney
New Hampshire didn’t have the “play nice” attitude that Iowa had, but I wonder if Romney stood out a little too much with his contrast ads, compared to everyone else [...]
Um, that may be part of it, but it’s a little more complicated than that:
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
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Desperate to save Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential campaign in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, his advisers all wanted to attack Sen. John McCain but were divided about how to do it,” writes Robert D. Novak in a column entry titled Mitt’s Divided Strategy
Coming out of his disappointing performance in the Iowa Caucuses, the Romney camp was united in the need to hit McCain hard for voting against President Bush’s tax cuts. But the decision also to attack McCain’s support for the liberal Bush immigration reform was opposed by a minority of Romney’s advisers. These dissenters argued that Romney’s hard line on immigration taken in Iowa did him no good there [...]
Dear Team Romney: these are not the dissenters you need to listen to. The dissenters you need to listen to you fired.
Here is where we quoted an online.wsj article that told the story of earlier dissension in Romney’s ranks about the question of whether to go negative or remain committed to larger themes. Two good speech writers—the last two professional communicators of integrity at Team Romney—got cashiered in the imbroglio. (The paranoiacs at Team Romney experience dissent as disloyalty.)
From the same column:
[...] Published reports that Fred Thompson soon will withdraw from the Republican presidential contest and endorse Sen. John McCain have been traced in part to Mitt Romney’s campaign, trying to stir up strife between McCain and Thompson [...]
[...] In fact, even when Mike Huckabee began his ascendance in Iowa, one that culminated in his convincing victory in Thursday’s caucuses, New Hampshire was still viewed as a firewall for the Romney campaign,” writes CBSNews.com political reporter David Miller in an article titled Mitt Romney’s Rebound Plan; Stung By Iowa Loss, Republican Takes Up Banner Of Change While Going After McCain
Polls there showed him with a solid lead – but that collapsed in the two weeks preceding the caucuses, when John McCain, once beleagured, quickly caught up to Romney, and in some surveys, even passed him.
Winning in Iowa would have been the best way to reverse that situation – and since that did not come to pass, the Romney campaign is now shifting gears by borrowing a page from the book of an unlikely candidate: Barack Obama, whose message of change helped him win Iowa’s Democratic contest.
At an event in Manchester on Friday, Romney seemed to work the “c-word” in at every possible opportunity.
“If you really want to have change, you don’t just want to have a gadfly or somebody fighting for this or fighting for that,” Romney said. “You want to have somebody who will bring change, who will sell the company America has – it’s going to have to be somebody from outside Washington, not a Washington insider [...]
We’re sorry, but what?—what does Romney mean by “sell the company America has?”
Romney has spent a year insisting he was Ronald Reagan. Now he wants to be Barack Obama. Has this man ever tried being Willard Milton Romney?
[...] But for all the talk of change, some aspects of Romney’s campaign haven’t. Take his advertising. In New Hampshire, the target is different – it’s McCain instead of Huckabee – but in terms of look and structure, his spots in the two states are identical. In both cases, there’s an initial nicety, describing Romney and, most recently, McCain as “two good men.”
After that comes harsh criticism of McCain’s views on immigration and tax cuts – a method McCain has said didn’t work in Iowa and wouldn’t work in New Hampshire.
But the Romney campaign believes the ads weren’t why Romney lost in Iowa, and the results there should not be seen as proof of their ineffectiveness.
“I don’t agree that we lost to Huckabee because we ran ads,” said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden. “I think Huckabee won because he identified with a lot of the core voters out there, such as evangelicals, on a lot of social conservative issues. He had a lot of voters he identified with, with what is a traditional, conservative part of that base out there. He did a good job doing that. We competed with Mike Huckabee on those votes, and we met our vote goals pretty much.” [...]
We met our goals? Did we? We met our goals and lost Iowa decisively? Boy, we must be geniuses! Perhaps—and this is just a suggestion, Mr. Madden—we need to review our current goals and performance standards before we get our heads handed to us on a platter in New Hampshire too.
This is more evidence of Romney’s predict-and-control operational method.
About Romney’s ugly “contrast” ads and their effectiveness, opinions differ:
Opinions differed at the posh waterfront headquarters of a besieged Team Romney too.
[...] Internally, the Romney campaign began to debate and disagree, a sharp contrast to the campaign’s usual organized and by-the-books culture,” writes Monica Langley in an Online.wsj article titled owa Touches Off a Free-for-All; Romney’s Best-Laid Plans Mugged by Political Realities
Two speechwriters were let go. Although the master plan had anticipated that negative ads might be necessary, the campaign was hit with internal dissension about whether to continue the “branding” plan or “go negative” in campaign commercials and direct mail.
Campaign operatives fought over when and how to “draw contrasts” between Mr. Romney and his chief rivals. Mr. Castellanos, Mr. Romney’s chief media adviser, pushed to shift message as needed to focus on changing rivals and issues. Others argued the merits of keeping the focus on a single overarching message. [...]
History has proven those two lowly speech writers right. Kevin Madden—the maddeningly inarticulate Kevin Madden, Romney’s least effective helper-monkey—should immediately telephone those two speechwriters, apologize profusely, and offer them their jobs back at twice what they were paid before.
Everyone else should go to the wall, starting with Madden.
Back to Miller:
[...]“You’ve only got one guy running for president who’s signed the front of an employment check,” Romney said Friday.
Compare that with a line delivered by Huckabee only hours earlier: “One of the reasons I did well in Iowa, and I’ll do well here, is that people realized that they want a president who reminds them of the guy they worked with, not the guy who laid them off.”
The disparate messages may be emblematic of a growing divide in the Republican Party, which is seeing the coalition built by Ronald Reagan – between blue-collar workers, the business community and Christian conservatives – put under severe distress, said GOP consultant Mike Collins.
“I think it’s more of a universal problem than a Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson solution. We’re battling for the soul of the Republican Party,” he said. “You have very discrete elements of this party that are coming apart at the seams.”
Yet Romney’s campaign maintains that they, alone among the GOP field, have support that is deep and broad enough to keep Republicans unified – an essential for winning in November. [...]
Here is the problem: Romney insists that he has “support broad and deep enough to keep Republicans unified.” But he has yet to demonstrate that support in any way or form. Precisely the opposite is the case: Romney has thus far unified no one constituency behind him; he has only managed to unify the other candidates against him. In fact, Team Romney has failed at every task it has set for itself, Iowa was only the latest. Besides: Who is Romney’s base? Who is his natural constituency? Who has he even convinced that he is a conservative?—oh, wait, now he wants to be the agent of change candidate.
How can this primped, powdered, and pampered non-entity pretend to unify our party when he has yet to unify himself?
[...] “A lot of the other candidates seem to be working on a slingshot effect – do well in one state and hope it builds momentum for other states,” Madden said. “We have a greater ability to motivate our organization as well as deploy the resources across several states in order to compete.”
But ironically, Romney may now be reliant on the same slingshot effect, even as they maintain they could survive a second-place finish – one that most observers agree would be a devastating loss, given the high expectations driven by campaign’s large organization and vast financial resources [...]
Madden is projecting. To “slingshot” early victories into performance gains in other states was always the organizing principle of Romney’s now inoperative early-states von Schlieffen plan. Now Romney has now been beaten back to a regional stronghold strategy. Only Romney keeps withdrawing from his strongholds. Team Romney’s stronghold used to New Hampshire until Sen. McCain deprived them of their lead there. Now they say it’s Michigan.
We predict that their last redoubt will be the floor of a brokered convention. This would be where targeted donations may actually produce an effective return. To try to buy off an angry and fragmented coalition—undoable. To try to buy off the elites of a corrupt party organzation—easily achievable; in fact, the groundwork is already laid in.
To simply stay in the game now becomes the object of the Romney Tribe.
[...] “Romney outspent Huckabee 20-1 in the state, according to some estimates, yet the advertisements, ground structure and piles of mailers couldn’t help him at the caucuses, the first test of the presidential primary election process,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Romney’s big investment in Iowa turns bitter; Evangelicals distrust of Mormons likely factored in Huckabee victory
On Fox News, pollster/commentator Frank Luntz said Romney made a “big mistake” by going negative against Huckabee. Focus groups used by Luntz indicated that Iowa Republicans were turned off by the blizzard of attack ads from the Romney campaign and found Huckabee the “most human of all the candidates” [...]
We have harped on this string for weeks and weeks. You cannot go negative against a rival with lower negatives than yours without doing more damange to yourself than to your opponent. Calling your attack ads “contrast ads” and beginning your personal attacks with “x is an honorable man” fools precisely no one. See:
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
Conclusion: Romney’s high negatives, credibility issues, and icy-cold humanoid demeanor, will not support a negative message. But has Romney learned his lesson yet? No. Romney promises to continue his negative and personal attacks on his rivals.
Morris: “[Romney] doesn’t have to win, place or show”—but: Romney himself has promised to “absolutely” continue airing viciously negative personal attacks on his rivals—so whatever happens in Iowa, the GOP is the loser
Romney is not just at war with the GOP base and its divided and dispersed coalition. Faustian Romney is at war with the laws of physics. He deludes himself that e.g. gravity or entropy does not apply to him, or that he can declare white to be black, or hot to be cold, or negative ads to be contrastive ads, and it will be so. Romney is like a satyric version of a Romantic (anti)hero, raging at the universe like Shelley’s Frankenstein or Melville’s Ahab. Here is the problem for us: Romney may well destroy our party before he’s finished working through his personal issues at our expense.
[ ...] “[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 [...]
“Romney has been forced into a two-front war, trailing Mike Huckabee in Iowa and holding onto a lead against a resurgent McCain in New Hampshire,” writes Eric Kleefield in a TPMelectioncentral.com post titled Romney Rolls Out Anti-McCain Ad in New Hampshire
But as it turns out, his lines of attack against each are the same, faulting them on taxes and immigration in both states … etc.
Here is the problem for the bitter, angry Romney. His rivals—Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain—have concerted their criticisms of Romney, the man and his message, by playing up each other even as they play upon the same themes.
Yet Romney’s response is to argue against both of his rivals on the same grounds, immigration and taxes.
In the case of Gov. Huckabee Romney’s critique raises his rival to the level of a peer when Romney has been trying to argue that Gov. Huckabee’s rise is artifact of misplaced religious zeal.
In the case of Sen. McCain Romney’s line only underscores the independence and integrity of discretion of a man already known for these virtues, even as Romney foregrounds his own slavish hewing to party orthodoxy in a state that appreciates coherent and individuated lines of reason.
- Romney Opens Second Negative TV Front, writes Mark Halperin for The Page.
- Eye of Horus, in an eyeon08.com post titled Desperate Romney flip-flops and goes Negative, elaborates on how Romney told reporters he was going positive only hours before his campaign went deeply, painfully, negative.
“Among the leading Presidential candidates, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have the highest level of core opposition among voters,” write the pollsters who serve Scott Rasmussen’s Rasmussen Reports in an article titled Clinton and Romney Have Highest Level of Core Opposition Among Leading Candidates
Forty-seven percent (47%) say they will vote against each of these candidates no matter who else is on the ballot.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Arizona Senator John McCain. For the second straight month, McCain finds himself with the smallest level of core opposition–just 33% say they will definitely vote against him. That figure is unchanged from a month ago, down from 39% a two months ago and a peak of 42% in June. These results are just one part of the reason that it is a good time to be John McCain.
In between, 42% will definitely vote against Giuliani, 38% against Edwards, 36% against Obama, 34% against Huckabee, 34% against Thompson.
As for core support, Clinton is also on top. Thirty percent (30%) will definitely vote for her and 29% will definitely vote for Obama. Edwards and Giuliani have core support from 23%, McCain from 22%, Thompson and Huckabee from 21%, and Romney from 19%.
On a net basis (core support minus core opposition), Obama (-7) and McCain (-11) come out on top. Giuliani (-19) and Romney (-28) have the weakest numbers on a net basis.
- Gallup Guru: Romney is “the only candidate with a more negative than positive ratio”
- Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)
Here is the problem for Romney: you cannot go negative—negative as in negative advertising—against a rival whose negatives are lower than yours—and no ones negatives—no ones—not even one—are higher than Romney’s, and everyone enjoys higher core support.
If you do go negative against someone whose negatives are lower than yours you risk inflicting more damage on yourself than on your opponent. It is the difference between (a) someone everyone likes accusing you of something, and (b) someone everyone hates accusing you.
In the former case (a) the accuser who is popular may influence the attitudes of others, as others would be more likely to believe the accusations, and fewer people are going to defend you as the risks and costs of defending you are higher.
In the latter case (b) the unpopular accuser will probably influence few if any, and the accuser risks provoking a backlash against himself or herself as others rush to the defense of the injured party—this is because the risks and costs of standing against an unpopular person are lower. This is precisely what is happening right now with Romney. Romney’s negative attacks have produced a fierce backlash.
“In many places around the country, Mitt Romney is facing a challenge from Mike Huckabee,” write the nice people at Rasmussen Reports in a story titled Election 2008: New Hampshire Republican Primary
However, in New Hampshire, Huck-a-mania never took hold. But, following endorsements from the Manchester Union Leader, the Boston Globe, and Senator Joe Lieberman, John McCain is now challenging Romney in the state he won eight years ago.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the state shows Romney with 31% support, McCain at 27% and no one else close. Rudy Giuliani attracts 13% and Huckabee barely reaches double digits at 11%. This is the first time any candidate has been within single digits of Romney in several months. It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary bounce or a lasting change.
Romney now fights for his candidacy on two fronts, against two different rivals? Well, duh. We predicted this outcome weeks and weeks ago.
Whether McCain’s rise is a temporary bounce matters not in the least to the Romney tribe. Recent history predicts that Romney and his surrgoates will not simply react without judgment, but overreact, and in overreacting overreach, and in overreaching call forth a fierce and determined backlash. (To discern, to discriminate, or to reason on practical grounds—these are not behaviors in Team Romney’s limited repertoire.)
The question is not whether Romney will react, but how.
Unabashed and consistent Romney-shill Matt Drudge provides us a clue. We just wonder when the super-geniuses at National Review Online—a subsidiary of Bain Capital and fiercely partisan Blog for Mitt—will begin to insinuate that to nominate Sen. McCain would be to destroy the GOP.
And what about Clear Channel, recently acquired by Romney’s own Bain Capital?—how soon before Rush Limbaugh et al begin to savage war hero Sen. McCain with the same ferocity they applied to person and character of Gov. Huckabee?