Salena Zito’s latest piece backs up a hunch I felt emerging in tandem with Marco Rubio’s not so subtle audition last week. Romney is quietly attempting to out flank Obama’s demographic strategy with one of his own.
My mistake about Rubio has been the assumption that he’s in the running for Veep because he’ll bring enough Hispanic voters to the GOP to make the difference. He might. But that’s not the point of a Romney/Rubio ticket. Counter intuitively, Rubio next to Romney will appeal to working class whites. I bet that’s Romney’s bet. It’s a double shot of optimism / competence. Rubio presents as moderate and fresh. Romney’s entire campaign is keyed on his ability to turn things around, with a refrain of optimism. These two elements get moderates to the polls the same way intoning about the evils of big government get conservatives worked up.
Rubio isn’t meant to add more bodies to Romney’s total, he’s meant to augment his narrative. The broad strokes of Rubio’s story fit perfectly. Immigrant, escaped a tyrant, parents worked hard so their children could realize the American dream. It’s boilerplate…and relentlessly appealing in this country. The queasiness about Romney’s wealth will go down a notch whenever Rubio tells his story.
“Auditioning” Rubio in Pennsylvania, where Hispanics won’t make the difference, was not random. His job is to telegraph to Reagan Democrats that Romney/Rubio are a team…that is on your team. Frankly, upon seeing them together my immediate flash was of Clinton/Gore early on.
From the Zito piece:
Opfar, 31, is a safety inspector at Bailey Mine….He said he likes what he hears from Romney, doesn’t think Romney is at all like the descriptions in most press accounts… ”He talks about what is best for the region and what is best for the country, growing our economy and creating jobs….That’s all I need to hear.” Emphasis is very much mine to make another point. The attempt to package Romney as a far right nut job is not going to fly.
Another telling element:
Most of the media coverage of the Fleetman event centered on whether Romney will pick U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate after the Florida freshman joined him for a town-hall meeting in nearby Aston….The real story, however, was the large number of women attending the event and the crowd’s enthusiasm…
The gender gap is being over played. There will be one. There usually is. It will shrink before election day. Working/middle class white women will vote on the economy just like their male counterparts. The man who wins this group in total probably wins the election.
“Romney/Rubio” will force Obama to work for Pennsylvania, can win Ohio, and Rubio may swing Florida. That means every voter, dead or alive, in North Carolina and Colorado will be dragged by the hair to the polls by both sides. Sometimes twice.
Prediction: Obama/Axelrod will realize they are missing the boat with attacks on Romney’s alleged rightwingery and proven wealth. They’ll begin to attack his true strengths. Look for swift boat style stories to emerge about the Salt Lake City Olympics. Look for trashing of Romney’s record as governor. I won’t blame Axelrod/Obama for this. Though I’m sure to write about it when it begins. This is how the game is played.Kerry’s the idiot who did not respond to Rove’s assault for three weeks. All Rove did was figure out how to deflate him. That was his job. And if Dukakis didn’t know Willie Horton was coming, he’s a fool.
I’ve figured out what’s been bugging me about Obama’s campaign so far. It’s a good campaign. It’s just the wrong one. Obama’s team doesn’t yet understand the other side’s true strengths. In a backhanded way President Carter conveyed Obama’s central problem when he said this week “I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable. (with Romney as President) I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive, that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics,”
He may not have meant to but Carter boiled Obama’s missing campaign strategy succinctly. No one fears a Romney presidency as many did a McCain/Palin term. No one gives a hoot that Romney has flip flopped. They all do. Those who distrust Romney’s wealth are already voting for Obama. People care about who can get the job done. Obama needs to attack Romney’s strengths, not harp on his weaknesses. And Axelrod needs to access his inner Atwater/Rove. Both men assaulted opponents strengths…and won.
(Mr. Axelrod, it may seem strange getting advice from this blog but please note….I accept paypal…and money from overseas…)
Romney/Rubio has appeal. And it’s the kind of appeal that will be very appealing in a year like 2012. I’ll be surprised if Romney goes another direction.