The Gang That Can’t Message Straight

The Romney campaign continues its promises to come up with an overarching message, but so far they’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall.  Maybe the effect of having their HQ in the North End of Boston?!

From “Mitt Romney struggles to sharpen message,” Alexander Burns, Politico:

“For the third week in a row, Mitt Romney’s campaign vowed Monday to deliver a sharper, bigger message in the closing stretch of the 2012 election.

“The GOP nominee is trying to move beyond an erratic messaging streak, which has seen his campaign chasing one transient news cycle after another. Romney advisers say Romney has been taking advantage of targets of opportunity offered up by Obama. But his message has shifted so frequently, and with so little thematic continuity between attacks, that it smacks more of a scramble to see what sticks than a coherent theory of the case for the general election.

“On a conference call with reporters Monday, senior Romney advisers Kevin Madden and Ed Gillespie promised a turn toward the whole picture for the campaign’s closing weeks.

“The tag-team effort by Madden and Gillespie was the latest in a series of Monday-morning attempts to set the agenda of the 2012 campaign.

“Reviewing the Romney campaign’s message points for the last month, there’s been astonishing variation from day to day and week to week for a campaign that long claimed its principal focus was the economy.   The improvisational quality of Romney’s sales pitch has only intensified since Sept. 17 when the liberal magazine Mother Jones published video of the Republican making critical comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes.

“Romney faces something of a painful paradox in his campaign messaging.  Both Republicans and Democrats have pressured him to address a larger range of issues in his bid for the presidency:  Romney drew flak from may quarters last month after failing to mention the Afghanistan war in his Tampa convention speech.  but Romney has struggled to balance a coherent, overarching argument for his candidacy with the need to address important news of the day.

“All throughout September, Romney’s campaign released a flurry of television commercials focusing on a range of subjects including the coal industry, scheduled defense cuts that would affect swing states, trade with China and more.  Those ads have seldom lined up with Romney’s rapidly shifting message of the day.

“If that messaging confusion has deepened lately, Romney also rotated through ephemeral campaign themes for a good part of the summer.  He spent much of August pummeling Obama for changes to the federal welfare system, only to drop that attack abruptly after the two parties’ conventions.”

I  don’t see them getting their messaging act together.  This campaign is just going to run out the clock and go through the motions.  Mitt isn’t stupid — as a turnaround guy, he knows when something can’t be turned around.

Mitt Can’t Lock Up This Big Dog on the Car Roof

From “The Dog and the Preacher,” John Heilemann, New York Magazine:

“In some areas, to be sure, it makes more sense for Clinton to do the talking—welfare reform preeminent among them. For weeks, Team Romney has been pounding Obama for allegedly ‘gutting’ the law that Clinton passed in the nineties by ‘dropping work requirements.’ The ads, which featured images of WJC, have plainly been gaining traction with the working- and middle-class white voters whom the Republican ticket must carry by vast margins to have any hope of winning. In his Charlotte speech, however, Clinton decimated the ads with as much force as he could muster. ‘This is personal to me,’ he said. ‘The claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep on running ads claiming it.’

“For Romney-Ryan, Clinton’s engagement on this issue—and more broadly, as he’s made it clear he wants to hit the road extensively for Obama this fall—is a nightmare. But it is one of their own creation. Had they not elevated Clinton in the first place, putting him in ads, using him as an example of the kind of ‘good Democrat’ that Obama definitively is not, 42’s repudiations of the claims and his validation of 44 might have less purchase. Instead, Team Romney finds itself defenseless, unable to defang the Big Dog, even as Obama counts his lucky stars that the old hound is off the leash.”

Obama Losing the Ladies?

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows President Obama’s favorables upside down for the first time since February, with 47% favorable and 49% unfavorable among registered voters.

Curiously, the decline comes from women.  Last April, his favorability among women was extremely positive at 57-39.  Now, it’s negative, at 46-50.

The GOP has said that its ads falsely accusing Obama of eliminating the work requirement for welfare were working well among women, especially single women.   Maybe this is the result.

As for Mitt, the same poll shows his favorables upside down as usual, at 43 to 48%.

The Romney campaign may be trying to convince women to stay home (which is where the GOP thinks they belong anyway).  If they can’t get women to like Mitt and vote for him, they can work to suppress Obama’s votes from them.

Obama won women last time by 13%.  Right now, a separate ABC/WaPo poll shows that he leads them by only 6%.


Ryan’s “Factual Shortcuts”

From “Departure From Usual:  Traditional Media Call Out Ryan For Factually Dubious Speech,” Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo:

“But the Wisconsin congressman’s speech strained facts on multiple occasions.  And that has rankled more than just the usual suspects.  Several mainstream outlets that have praised him in the past pointedly went after his misleading portrayals of critical issues at stake in this election.

“The Associated Press took on Ryan’s misleading assertions in an article headlined,’FACT CHECK:  Ryan takes factual shortcuts in speech,’ which included a point-by-point refutation of various claims he made.

“The AP article took on his claims about Medicare, the stimulus package, an auto plant in his home state and the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, among others.

“Other takedowns of the House budget chief’s claims were published in CNN and ABC News.

“The pushback could damage Ryan’s reputation for sincerity among members of the media establishment, which has been key to his identity as a reformer.  It might also escalate tensions with reporters who are already pressing the Romney campaign for its inaccurate attacks on Obama’s welfare policy, and his remarks about entrepreneurship, that the GOP has taken out of context.”

I think the fact that Mitt has gotten away with the untrue welfare and “You didn’t build that” stuff emboldened his campaign to have Ryan keep the whoppers coming.  I was taken aback by all the flat-out lies in his speech.  

There’s garden-variety spinning, and then there’s jaw-dropping shameful.  Ryan was the latter.

Quote of the Day

“No question. The Romney campaign has doubled down. All in on the race/lazy/dependency groove from here on out. No going back.

“In private they’re all but bragging about it — specifically their run of welfare-centric commercials which they’re running at a red hot clip in swing states all across the country. It’s working, they say. The fact-checkers can go screw themselves.”

Josh Marshall, “Doubling Down,” Talking Points Memo

Shameful?  Yes.  Surprising?  Pas de tout, as Mitt would have said during his missionary days.

The Truth May Set Mitt Free, But It Won’t Get Him Elected

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

Sounds like something Putin might say, doesn’t it?  But this was Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster, responding to criticism about Mitt’s fact-free ads claiming that President Obama has gutted the work requirements for welfare recipients.

The ads have been helping Mitt among white voters, especially white single women whom he desperately needs, so the ads will continue to run.

Waiver? What Waiver? Who Asked for a Waiver?

With Mitt running ads falsely accusing President Obama of gutting the work requirements for welfare (in a racist appeal for more white voters because he needs to get 61% of them), the two GOP governors who were among the five asking for waivers are backpedaling as fast as their little legs will go.*

In fact New Mexico Gov. Sandoval has said that his administration never asked for a waiver!  Someone must have forged his state Health and Human Service director’s signature because the Obama administration has a letter that says, “Nevada is very interested in working with your staff to explore program waivers…”  Shouldn’t Sandoval be investigating this apparent fraud?

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert at least admits that he wanted waivers, but says he wanted them from Congress, not the Obama administration.  That must be why he was working with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to get the waivers, rather than with any senators or congressmen.

If I were Obama, I would rescind the waivers.  I would tell the states that he was trying to give them more power and flexibility — something the GOP is always yelling and screaming about wanting — and in return he got lies from Mitt’s campaign.  So screw them, they can follow the law as written.

He should tell the governors that he was trying to do a good deed for them and their welfare programs, but this is one good deed that will go unpunished.  No more waivers, no more lying ads.

*  “GOP Governors Attack Obama’s Welfare Waivers After Requesting Flexibility,” Sahil Kapur, Talking Points Memo

“Get Off Your Asses”

From “Ryan-Akin, Romney-Trump,” Brent Budowsky,  The Hill:

“This column is an expression of contempt toward some of the wealthiest Democrats in America, who fail to understand the consequences if the forces I describe here take power in America.

“On almost all matters of high policy, the Republican ticket might well be called the Ryan-Akin team. Ryan and Akin agree on almost every major issue.

The Republican campaign might well be called the politics of Romney-Trump. Voters might ask why Donald Trump, the standard-bearer of a campaign of nut-case birtherism to advance bigot-based politics, will be showcased at the Republican convention while the last Republican president, George W. Bush, will be hidden from public view.

“Romney-Ryan, Ryan-Akin and Romney-Trump share a vision of politics that gives extremism and hate a privileged seat at the table of GOP power.

Romney, Ryan, Akin and Trump agree on almost every issue. Wealthy Democrats suffering a life crisis about whether they should enter the arena against mega-donations by the Adelsons and Koches might ponder why they make their mega-donations, why Romney and Ryan fall to their knees paying homage to them, and what kind of America we get if they buy the power of the presidency, the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court for a generation.

“The GOP wages war against Medicare and Social Security because they despise what they consider evil liberal programs. Their extremist platform before the election doesn’t scratch the surface of what they will try to do if they win the election, especially if they control Congress and courts. They know most voters disagree with them, so they lie about the president’s Medicare position and try to hide their extremism as Romney and Ryan hide their tax returns.

“When Republicans say they want to ‘take back America’ they are dog-whistling that they want to take back America from seniors who benefit from Medicare and Social Security, from uppity women who seek fair pay and freedom of choice, from uppity blacks they demonize in dishonest Trump-style welfare ads, from Hispanics they picture as climbing over walls to immigrate here and against whom they employ the shameless pandering Mitt Romney employed demonizing Hispanics even against other Republicans in Republican primaries.

To wealthy Democrats having difficulty deciding whether they should enter the arena with their fists flying against the shared vision of Ryan, Akin, Romney and Trump I propose:

Get off your asses, before it is too late.”  Emphasis added.

Unleash the Newt!

Newtie’s back — the GOP has tapped him to lead the charge against President Obama on welfare reform.  So it will be Newt v. Clinton.  I think we’ve seen this movie before, and it ended with Newtie resigning his Speakership and leaving Congress.

The thing about Newtie is that once you’ve let the Newt out of his terrarium, it can be hard to catch him and put him back in.  He’s a quick and crafty little lizard.  He’ll say what the GOP wants him to say, but he’ll embellish those talking points with his own brand of outlandishness.  Remember, Newtie’s been out there defending Michele Bachmann for going after poor Huma Abedin as a Muslim Brotherhood mole in our State Department.

I think Mitt’s lost control of his campaign.