“It’s still about the economy and we’re not stupid.” – Mitt Romney. Britt Hume says it’s going to be all about Obama’s record on the economy. If that’s true Obama will lose in a landslide.
Romney throws ‘It’s the Economy stupid’ back at Obama
Posted: Apr 25, 2012 9:07 AM EDT Updated: Apr 25, 2012 9:07 AM EDT
Hailing his five primary victories here in New Hampshire tonight, Mitt Romney wasted no time looking back over a sometimes bruising Republican contest, and instead served notice to President Barack Obama that the November election would be about one thing only.
Predicting “a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions” from Obama over the next six months, he warned his opponent: “That kind of campaign may have worked at another place over in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy…and we’re not stupid.”
It was a clever line – one which reporters immediately suggested bore the imprimatur of Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist – because of its simplicity and essential truth. It marked the moment Romney pivoted from dealing with the likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to fighting the opponent Republicans yearn to defeat – the president.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen Democrats try to make the election about Romney’s wealth, his ‘secrecy’ (very possibly in part at least a coded reference to his Mormon faith) and a host of bogus or frivilous issues like contraception and even dogs.
But Americans care about the economy, jobs, debt and the deficit.
Just as the Clinton campaign (whose manager James Carville famously coined the phrase ‘it’s the economy, stupid’) resisted President George H.W. Bush’s attempts to make the 1992 election about the then Arkansas governor’s character, Team Romney will try keep the focus on Obama and his record.
In this respect they will be helped by the cult of personality that surrounds Obama, and in large part on which his 2008 campaign was based. And Obama’s well-developed self-regard (he was quoted this week as telling the Democratic National Committee chair: “It’s not about you, it’s about me) could also play into Romney’s hands.
And, of course, Clinton won in 1992, defeating the incumbent Bush, albeit with the help of GOP votes being siphoned off to Ross Perot.
During tonight’s speech, Romney conceded one thing – he would not be as “dazzling” as Obama was in 2008.
Embracing his own awkwardness, which he perhaps hopes might in time become somewhat endearing to voters, he even suggested he would be tedious at times. “I’ll probably start out talking about my wonderful wife Ann – I usually do – and I’ll probably bore you with stories about our kids and grandkids.”
But there were other areas where Romney made clear he would fight for every inch of ground. He was determined not to allow Obama to own the concept of “fairness”.
He said: “This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”
Romney indicated he would also resist fiercly attempts to portray him as a callous, out-of-touch plutocrat. He did not, he pointed out, come from a long line of wealthy forbears. “I’ll tell you about how much I love this country, where someone like my dad, who grew up poor and never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car company.
“Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state in which he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.”
And the hundreds of millions he had made himself had been hard-earned. “I’d say that you might have heard that I was successful in business. And that rumour is true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people.
“You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson.”
Whether or not the terrain Romney is eying will indeed be the one on which this election is fought is one of the most fascinating questions to be answered.
In this speech, he spoke more passionately than before about his vision for American and conservative principles of competition and free enterprise. More specifics and policy detail will be needed.
But for now, Romney made a convincing case to Obama that the next six months will be anything but a comfortable glide towards inevitable re-election.
Posted by Donna Calvin — Thursday, April 26, 2012
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