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January 11, 2012 / Political Fluency

Romney Won – Now What?

Mitt Romney just completed the first non-incumbent sweep of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. An accomplishment that achieved his original strategy from 2008.  As the only candid with the money to compete in Florida and after, the nomination is his.

But should he begin focusing on Barack Obama right away?

Not yet.

On Kavon Nikrad’s great site, Race42012.com, there was a thread (one of many) on the hot topic of the Republican primary – the Not-Romneys are attacking Mitt for his days at Bain Capital when the private equity firm bought companies and then sometimes laid-off thousands of employees and/or reduced their compensation.

They are hammering Romney as being a ruthless executive who callously terminated employees to make himself rich. I’ll leave out the details for now because that’s the maximum that the average voter is going to know about Mitt Romney’s days as an investor.

One of the bright young contributors there, Matthew E. Miller, had apparently had enough of this anti-capitalist nonsense from the candidates of the party expected to be the standard-bearer of the free market and he wrote this:

Romney needs to, when he finally gets around to laying out the case for Bain, avoid defensiveness. He needs to attack his rivals as opponents of capitalism. He needs to say something like, “in Newt Gingrich’s America, failing businesses never seek additional investments, never restructure, and never lay anyone off. And then one day, they shut their doors. At least they had a heart though. It was nice while it lasted”. He needs to test-drive the argument he’s going to make against Obama. I know he’s going to be tempted to run as a general election candidate and continue to ignore his rivals, since they’re so inept, but this presents a nice opportunity for him to bury someone, and refine his general election arguments.

Miller has always been one of my favorite writers on the site* and his point is exactly what the Romney campaign team needs to focus on right now. So I wrote in support:

Everyone reread [Miller’s comment] over and over again.

“He needs to test-drive the argument he’s going to make against Obama. I know he’s going to be tempted to run as a general election candidate and continue to ignore his rivals, since they’re so inept, but this presents a nice opportunity for him to bury someone, and refine his general election arguments.”

That was the worst part of the Bret Baier interview a few weeks ago. Romney’s answers weren’t crisp and he was whining that he already answered the differences between RomneyCare and Obamacare.

No. You haven’t Mitt!
Not until November will you have answered the healthcare question. He has to repeat over and over again so it’s the same answer for whenever people decide to pay attention – sporadically now and intensely in 9 months.

And while we’re on this topic, if he defines creative destruction one more time with a stupid tractor analogy* then I’m going to smash my TV in an act of creative destruction.

The right analogy is things suburban voters relate to!** Polaroids and digital cameras, faxing and emailing, and Myspace and Facebook. “Look what happened to Myspace when Facebook came about. They didn’t go completely out of business. They focused on music and entertainment and became a better website.”
_____________________
*God, I hate Iowa!

One reader was curious about my point:

I find it interesting that in the same comment where PF criticizes Mitt (rightly) for complaining about needing to repeat the differences between RomneyCare and ObamaCare over and over again because not everyone is listening, we see PF criticize him for using the same tractor analogy over and over again. I would think the same principle applied in both cases, would it not?

By the time I saw that comment Keith Price rebutted in my stead and he could not have expanded my point any better:

I think PF’s problem with it is not the repetition but the OUTDATED nature of it. Only farmers can relate to it. PF wants Mitt to shift to current examples (digital cameras, Facebook, etc). It’s a good point.

In fact, Mitt has a general perception problem of being far behind the times.

His big slam against Newt’s Virginia problem was a 50 year old TV show.

His big claim to loving humor was 87 year old 3 Stooges.

And, his big example of creative destruction is the invention of the tractor, which started to catch on 100 years ago.

So, Mitt could certainly use some current examples. I loved his examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — how their success didn’t make people poorer, it made people richer. It seems he’s not using that as much, anymore, and he should do more like that to modernize his image.

I’m fine with others having the last word, but I wanted to thank him and further expand on how Romney needs to shed his Rombot image and not appear fake while doing it.

Thank you Keith for expanding on my point.

Repetition of answers that voters relate to is what Mitt needs more of.

He can use the tractor analogy only if he uses it in the Milton Friedman sense of a jobs program using spoons instead of shovels and say “There would be full employment if we got rid of tractors and we all had to farm for our own food… That might be Obama’s next jobs bill.”

So the last word will go to Matthew E. Miller when he wrote right after me:

Now we know why these clowns were practically silent in the debates: they didn’t want to launch their anti-capitalism schtick while Mitt was there to fight back. So they’re going to use the lull between now and South Carolina to turn themselves into raging, liberal, populists. I hope Romney buries them. Doubtless he’s sitting on about 18 million COH. Let Santorum- who has thus far stood up for capitalism- slide and use all of that money to bury Gingrich and Perry. Ideally, he’d save it for Obama, but attacking them/defending capitalism could be like the first shot in a series inoculation- it prepares the body.

And there it is. The voters who decide elections are not ideological. They are in the center of the electorate between the 45 yard lines on the political football field.  Yet George Will is right when he says “Every election is about ideology.” 2012 will be a choice between a more free market economic system versus a social market economic system to pull our country out of the doldrums of the Great Recession.

By “practicing” his defense of the free-market economy now, Romney can make the best case to the national electorate against the attempted European-socialist programs that Obama espouses.

_______________________

* Dave Gaultier is the other

**I’m so frustrated with the Republican party’s pathetic defense of capitalism that this sentence goes from the singular to the plural with the wrong verb tense!

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