Mitt’s Doing It on Purpose

I love Josh Marshall and his site Talking Points Memo.  But I think he’s wrong about this one.

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Mitt said he’d keep the popular stuff in Obamacare, like making sure people with preexisting conditions can get insurance.  Not long after, his campaign walked that back, saying that it wasn’t a policy change, and that it was only for those with continuous coverage, not those buying insurance for the first time or coming back into the market.

Josh Marshall says that shows either a “disorganized campaign” or Mitt’s “ingrained flipfloppery.”

I think both the comment yesterday and the walkback today were planned and on purpose.

Meet the Press attracts moderate and independent voters, many of whom are undecided.  Mitt was trying to appeal to them, to make them think he’s a reasonable guy.

By contrast, many of those viewers will never find out about the campaign’s walkback.  So Mitt gets credit with them, while calming down his base, which does pay more attention.

The campaign is fully aware of this, that you reach out to moderates in a high-profile way, and then pull back in a quieter way, knowing a chunk of them won’t notice.

If you want more evidence, Mitt did exactly the same thing quite recently on abortion.  All of a sudden, he said that he supported the right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest, health and life of the mother.  He had been saying rape, incest, and life, but not health.  So the reference to health of the mother was a change, one intended to make him seem more reasonable.  It was taken back by the campaign right after.  But many more people heard Mitt and read the reports of his softer position than heard his campaign spokesperson disavow it.

Disorganized, my tush.  They know exactly what they’re doing.

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