Ruffini: “Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry”
“Despite spending gobs of money, despite eclipsing Fred Thompson in the invisible primary, [Romney] still can’t quite connect with conservatives,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a post titled Where’s Romney’s Bio.
Yes, he barely won the FRC straw poll, but only after he and the other
ballot stuffingstrawpoll-centric campaigns figured out they could phone it in for the in-person contest and focus exclusively on running up the score in the online vote. Filter out the online votes, and you have a pretty organic (and one sided) protest vote for Mike Huckabee.
Romney’s speeches are built on the assumption that he can out-conservative Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee by out-talking them. His words are a litany of conservative talking points.
Earlier this year, when his conservative credentials were genuinely in question, the issues-talk might have helped. But now his problem has morphed into something far worse: an authenticity problem centered around flip-flopping. And arguably, each time he opens his mouth and spouts platitudes, he only makes it worse.
Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry. The Bush team made it so that every time Kerry opened his mouth, he hurt himself, thanks to the perception that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Kerry couldn’t help himself by saying the right things because nobody believed what he was saying.
Romney’s situation is further complicated by the fact that issues are actually friendly terrain for Rudy Giuliani. Huh? That’s right — because people assume Rudy’s positions are liberal, when he talks conservative, that’s reassuring. When Romney talks issues, people assume he’s pandering.
Rudy has an issues problem, one that he’s trying to make go away by talking issues. Romney’s problem is not an issues problem. The flip-flopping charge is a character problem, not an issues problem. So what Romney really must do is shore up perceptions of his character.
Romney should resign himself to the fact that he won’t be able to out-conservative Thompson or Huckabee on issues … etc., etc.
The emphases are ours.
Sage advice based on sound analysis. Will Romney take it? Or is he, as Geraghty puts it, “hell-bent on proving he’s a social conservative despite a less-than-ideal record.”
Hey, Romney. Here’s thought. Fire your entire communications staff and all your consultants—immediately. Then start all over again. Only this time try to organize a campaign based on themes you actually believe in. What a concept!