MITT ROMNEY’S LUCKY the Republican primaries unmasked his warts long before anyone started paying attention. Sure America saw the clown show, but the circus has passed and now it’s down to business and economics, Romney’s strong suit.
I started following Mitt Romney during the 2007-2008 primary season, writing back then that he was dangerous for Democrats. Progressives scoffed at my analysis, though they did as well when I warned them about candidate Obama back in 2007.
But that was long before Pres. Obama decided to compromise with himself and take the economic argument so far right that it benefits Republicans across the board. Obama’s bipartisanship anti-ideological politics is why he and his campaign are fighting to keep their Bain Capital strategy against Mitt Romney alive. That his own car czar, followed by two well known African American Democrats, have followed his apolitical lead where Wall Street economics is concerned has now become the biggest threat to Pres. Obama’s reelection.
Margin-of-error polling, fundraising parity last month, conservative consolidation around Romney and a still-sluggish economy has senior GOP officials increasingly bullish about a nominee many winced over during a difficult primary process.
Interviews with about two dozen Republican elected officials, aides, strategists and lobbyists reveal a newfound optimism that with a competent, on-message campaign, Romney will be at least competitive with a weakened incumbent. That’s a dramatic shift from the fatalistic view many party stalwarts shared mere weeks ago.
The other reason Romney could win is the tepid nature of Pres. Obama’s reviews as leader of the economy among nonpartisans. If Mitt Romney is inoculated on Bain Capital he will emerge as the competent business leader who voters might decide is worth giving a shot. There’s no evidence incumbency is the plus it once was in fact it’s just the opposite.
That Obama hasn’t made solid relationships inside the Democratic Party and in the progressive community, beyond his die hard fans and supporters, makes it rougher for him. I don’t know anyone who thinks Obama runs the Democratic Party, with more evidence today that he doesn’t. He’s the un-Lyndon Johnson, a man who gets by on his own steam, not through relationships inside Democratic or progressive circles. The attitude of Robert Gibbs is brought to mind and just what a bad beginning the Administration made toward their base. Obama is another in a long line of presidents who don’t feel compelled to build the political party that made his rise possible. The feeling is Pres. Obama’s a one man ego band.
Meanwhile, team Obama has dispatched Steve Rattner, the first in the line of Bain boosters, long before Cory Booker and Harold Ford hit, who’s written a defensive op-ed for the New York Times. Laugh track not included.
I am among those who have been drawn into the argument – there was even a snippet of me defending private equity in a Romney campaign ad.
As a former Obama administration official, I was uncomfortable about being used in a Romney ad in support of his position.
However, I was also concerned that the Obama ads, while narrowly accurate, might be seen to portray Bain Capital (and implicitly, private equity) in an ugly light because a few of the companies the firm invested in went bankrupt while Bain Capital still made money…
And that’s just the first three paragraphs. All defense and whispering that “the Obama ads” are “narrowly accurate,” while vamping in order to scrape a way forward to help the boss.
This is a very serious moment for team Obama, an inflection point in the 2012 race.
But like the Romney campaign’s Etch A Sketch event, some things in politics simply define what is already known, solidifying a politician’s image. It’s not like anyone today actually thinks Pres. Obama represents the “hope and change” his team marketed, many never did.
What makes the Bain Capital gaffe, which in Washington speak is really the truth, potentially lethal for Pres. Obama is that it has the potential of equaling the playing field between Obama and Romney by taking Bain off the board in many nonpartisan eyes, with the only thing that could tilt it back to Obama being a foreign policy crisis, a field of expertise of Pres. Obama’s where Romney simply cannot compete.