Political Animal


September 17, 2012 5:53 PM Today’s Big Mystery Solved

By Ed Kilgore

The Atlantic’s Molly Ball noticed, as I did earlier today, that there’s a whole lot of confusion about what, exactly, Mitt Romney’s campaign is doing to “reboot” itself for the stretch run. She runs through the various things we are hearing from various elements of the Romney campaign, and comes up with this tentative conclusion:

What, then, is the new strategy? It’s to reemphasize the policy proposals that Romney is already campaigning on, apparently. [Ed] Gillespie’s argument is that voters, having been convinced that Obama’s not cutting it and Romney is a decent enough guy, now are ready to hear what exactly Romney has planned. Once he’s painted a picture of the future to their satisfaction, they’ll be ready to go and vote for him….
At the same time, Romney does not appear prepared to fill in the most obvious gaps in his policy platform. He insists that his tax and spending proposals will balance the budget without raising taxes, but he won’t say which tax loopholes he would close to do so; there’s no indication that’s going to change. In his speech Monday, he described a broken immigration system and criticized Obama for failing to fix it. But he did not say how he would resolve the situation of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., promising only to “work with Republicans and Democrats to permanently fix our immigration system.” This is exactly what he did last time he spoke about immigration to a Hispanic audience.
In sum, then, Romney’s new campaign strategy is to put new emphasis on the proposals that he was already emphasizing, while declining to fill in new details of the proposals he has kept strategically vague. It doesn’t sound like much of a turnaround. But then, Romney’s camp does not actually admit that a turnaround is needed.

I think that may be the key to the whole mystery. Team Mitt is under a regular barrage of criticism from the MSM, from those Republican political pros who aren’t already on payroll, from conservatives wanting a different kind of campaign, and apparently even from within. So its way of dealing with that is to just as regularly indicate a change of direction—and then keep on doing what they were doing before. And that is perfectly in harmony with this campaign’s reigning value: deception.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Anonymous on September 17, 2012 6:03 PM:

    Easy, he'll blame it on the poors.


    Then after a weeks worth of pilloring by the media, he'll blame it on the media (again). Watch Romney channels his inner Palin.

  • jjm on September 17, 2012 6:06 PM:

    "[...] keep on doing what they were doing before"

    Keeping on keeping Mitt's tax returns secret

  • Doug on September 17, 2012 6:10 PM:

    "...with this campaign's reigning value: deception." Ed Kilgore

    That's it! Romney's not "robot-like", he IS a robot - a Decepticon!

  • JM917 on September 17, 2012 6:13 PM:

    Romney will continue to evade and obfuscate on exactly what's in his various "plans" until his first debate with Obama. Willard will first try to blow smoke, but will end up blustering and sputtering.

    For an encore, we'll be treated to Biden confronting Ryan with the specifics of Ryan's "roadmaps."

    Up against pros like Obama and Biden, both these guys are going to fall to pieces. It will be fun to watch.

  • Leopold Von Ranke on September 17, 2012 6:18 PM:

    But, in the Romney campaign's defense, couldn't one say that consistency is improtant, however foolish? Particularly when the candidate and his surrogates perform synchronously, as perfect weather vanes?

  • c u n d gulag on September 17, 2012 6:24 PM:

    Mitt's new strategy:
    The same strategy by the same team for the same candidate - ONLY LOUDER!!!!!

  • Mark-NC on September 17, 2012 6:37 PM:

    Mitt said on tape that 47% of the people will vote for Obama because they are dependent on the government.

    Total BS, of course. Lots of those 47% he's describing vote to slit their own throats voting Republican.

    However, he left out the other side. Probably 40% will vote for a cold-blooded, lying ass who will slit their children's throats (metaphorically, of course)so that the ultra-rich can get even richer.

  • sjw on September 17, 2012 6:50 PM:

    I am so enjoying the implosion of Team Romney. What particularly pleases me is that Mitt's fake smile will itself have to be faked as he pretends in public these next weeks that he has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the presidency.

  • dweb on September 17, 2012 7:38 PM:

    Mitt and company seem to be reacting like the ugly Americans traveling overseas and finding that people don't understand their English. Their reaction is then to simply "SPEAK LOUDER" in hopes that will get the message across.

    I have a 5 point plan, so let me tell you each of those points....now do you see how brilliant it all is?

  • mudwall jackson on September 17, 2012 8:13 PM:

    if i recall correctly, the wash monthly did a piece a few years ago called "the myth of republican competency."

    seems mitt and friends are determined to lift the curtain and expose the truth for the diehards out there who are yet to be convinced that the gop is a party of clowns.

  • Rick B on September 17, 2012 11:36 PM:

    Mitt's campaign does not need to reboot. They have a secret weapon which is beyond the ken of the media to recognize.

    They have god on their side, and god will give a Mormon the Presidency in order to save the Constitution.

    When you have god on your side, it becomes very difficult to reconcile your actions with rationality and logic. Mitt is a direct descendant of one of the Mormon apostles. You know he is certain that god is on his side. And he is trained to lie to conceal his religious motivations. It's the moral and god-directed thing to do.

    Is there any better explanation for the campaign based on lies than the fact that god ordained it?

  • Mark-NC on September 18, 2012 8:09 AM:

    @ Rick B on September 17, 2012 11:36 PM:

    Yep - just about perfect!

    It is a very good thing for the Religious? Right?? that their God? is perfectly OK with lying, cheating, stealing, corruption, and general rottenness. I assume when they say God is on their side that what they really mean is he will look the other way and ignore their nastiness.

  • Renai on September 19, 2012 12:24 AM:

    "God ...will look the other way and ignore their nastiness"

    Mark-NC, you just proved god exists, because that is exactly what he's been doing.

    So now that god's proven, doesn't everything go POOF and disappear or something?