Mitt ‘sketches’ a threat
John Podhoretz at the New York Post:
You might recall that Mitt Romney’s aide Eric Fehrnstrom notoriously likened the change from primary battle to general election to shaking an Etch-a-Sketch. The Mitt Romney who showed up last night to deliver the best speech of his life so far might well have been the result of a good shake.
In substance, the speech featured nothing that would have surprised a close observer of the past year, but the presentation was another matter. Romney sounded better, more inspiring and more focused than he ever has, and the speech itself was constructed with rhetoric that was strong, accessible and positive.
Looking formidable: Mitt Romney, here with wife Ann last night, is making and refining a strong case for voters to fire Barack Obama.
All in all, the Etch-a-Sketch portrait of the campaign strategy reflected in the speech suggests it will be a pretty formidable one.
“Americans,” the de facto Republican nominee said, “are tired of being tired.”
He addressed himself not only to the unemployed but to the American workforce, noting “many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.”
He mentioned the “single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job,” and “grandparents who can’t afford the gas to visit their grandchildren.” He spoke of “the mom and dad who never thought they’d be on food stamps” and “the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month.”
We are “eternal optimists,” he said, “but over the last 3 1/2 years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership.”
He was making a crucial distinction here — a distinction vital to his effort to make the election a referendum on the condition of the United States under Barack Obama, which is the only way he will win.
He was saying the fault lies not with the public’s choice of Barack Obama in 2008 but with Obama’s failure to keep the promises he had made to us all then.
This is exactly the right way to cultivate the doubts those swing voters who pulled the lever for Obama are already experiencing — and to plough that field patiently and methodically over the next 6 1/2 months.
The problem with running a negative campaign against an incumbent is precisely that that the challenger may seem to be putting insulting pressure on some voters to admit they made a mistake.
Romney was saying, by contrast, that the voters did not make a mistake in voting for Obama. No, Obama is the one who made the mistakes — after they entrusted him with the White House. If Americans were doing better, “President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements, and rightly so.”
Romney went on to refine his key ideological case against Obama. “Government is at the center of his vision,” he said. And if that vision is fulfilled, “our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars . . . It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help.”
Romney then offered a contrasting vision of “an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans . . . We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made America the greatest nation on earth.”
Obama hasn’t made it easy: “Today, the hill before us is a little steep.” But, Romney added, “We have always been a nation of big steppers.”
Etch-a-Sketch Romney is a candidate Obama has good reason to fear.
MITT ROMNEY: Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?
Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?
If the answer were “yes” to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy …and we’re not stupid.
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