Winning. It’s the point of a race.
Prior to the Denver Presidential Debate on Wednesday, we hear that Mitt Romney doesn’t want to talk about winning.
The Romney campaign has a clear window to the nation, the first debate that sets the tone for all of the future debates. And they would rather reduce any expectation or enthusiasm, which doesn’t always win the game in a close race. Sometimes, you have to swing away.
This is a moment where the entire world tunes into the leaders of our nation and learns what the direction of the free world could be. Our nation often shifts with the enthusiasm of a victor, a president who wins the mandate of the people, and produces profound change that ripples across the globe.
While I think there is some value to these debates, it is still a theatrical production of the highest order and magnitude. It is pure political showmanship, but also the only real method of valuation the public can measure a candidate under pressure. We have seen debates in the GOP primary that already exposed Mitt Romney’s weaknesses. In fact, he was blessed by even more egregious mistakes by other candidates that made him look perfect compared to the circus before him.
For millions of his supporters, it’s the bottom of the 9th, with no outs. Mitt’s got a chance to take the ball to the bleachers, and people are really depending on him to come up big.
And Mitt’s about to bunt.
From a perspective of campaign strategy, the Romney campaign failed to capitalize on a clear narrative they could have established for the American public leading to the debate. They failed to take the challenger’s role, and fire up their own base going into Colorado.
No clearer stage can be set for the two candidates who will be leader of the free world. No clearer media alley can be cleared for these two individuals to talk to the nation and the world. The technological preparation is already underway as servers are prepped to handle the massive amount of traffic dedicated to a couple hours of two people talking with prepared statements on prepared topics.
And Romney doesn’t want to win? He’d rather bunt with President Obama, and play for a tie. It’s the same attitude of MIGOPers who stuck with Pete Hoekstra instead of a real actor of change in Clark Durant.
Lose by 3, keep the elitist establishment party in power. Lose by 8, the RINO house is demolished.
It’s not “strategy” as much as it is positioning for failure by a reasonable amount. It’s a clear sign of no confidence in Romney head-to-head with President Obama, and a clearer sign that there is nothing new for voters from here to November. It means enthusiasm should be a priority … right?
After all, debate prep is simply memorizing lines and cues when topics are telegraphed to the candidates, who then “pause thoughtfully” when trying to remember the two paragraphs other people wrote for them. The real stuff comes out when candidates attempt to disorient their opponent, and it’s like a car crash or hockey fight. Eventually, it will happen, and that’s what often turns the tables of a race.
In fact, the debates really reflect who will win in November. Even in the saturated media, there will be a shift somewhere, and most likely from either a gaffe or a strong attack that flattens the opponent. But the question is which one is worth more risk/reward? A gaffe might help, but a really well-placed statement or policy attack can be far more effective and put the other candidate on the defensive.
It’s a consequence to consider. President Obama’s entire strategy is “rope-a-dope”. He doesn’t have to respond to attacks, but simply absorb the attacks until the other guys tires, and then he hits him. Romney’s strategy has to shift to hitting big on economic policy across all segments of our nation. For the poor, for the middle-class, and even for the rich, we should see clear and defined actions he will take that incorporate his “Big Tax Idea” for America. His fiscal management is the only strength he can present to the people, and he should swing away. If he can show that President Obama is out of touch with basic business practices, he has a chance of pulling a Clinton/Carville.
It’s the economy, stupid.
The economy is all that matters to the voter. Sure, many folks will buy the faux outrage of various social issues on both sides. But the core of the voting public always centers on the economic outlook and the policies that directly face them.
The massive effect of the recession put us in a hole that we still haven’t climbed out of. Home values are a primary concern for the small business owner, the family, and the service industry. Without solid and stable home values, we have no small business capital, rent-driven family life, and no service industry that is predictable enough to cater to a static population.
With home values comes jobs, that are not only being shifted to lowest bid, they’re also disappearing in the ironic boom of technology we’ve created. We find “industry” in buying overpriced toys, paying overpriced monthly fees for toy use, and without constant consumption, the entire model collapses.
We see our debt climbing at an astronomical rate, but have no measures to stem the expenditures NOR the revenue. The ”reasonable home budget” meme always fails to mention the benefit of adding a new job, or that their “reasonable home budget” cuts would involve starving their child, or sending Grandma out on an ice floe…
We have a chance to see a candidate who represents business bona fides. We also have the chance to hear the candidate speak up and swing away. He could actually win if he doesn’t bunt.
I can think of a number of easy ways to frame the debate expectations:
“Yes, we will win the debate, because the people of America are on our side.”
“Yes, we will win the debate, because our policies make sense to American businesses.”
“Yes, we will win the debate, because we offer the only set of policies that will bring us prosperity.”
It’s not hard to do. The Romney campaign provides no reason to rally, and actually seeks to reduce enthusiasm on the first day of three huge days, all three of which will have an open window of complete media attention. Only a natural disaster or war could shift the focus of a nation this close to election.
Instead of going with strengths and talent, Romney will stick to bunting every time, for fear of making the team (the GOP) look bad.
And think about that. If Romney effectively destroys the elitist/establishment GOP party, the actual conservatives might have a chance to find their party again. They might be able to reorganize the remnants into a party that sticks to ideals.
Heck, maybe if Romney doesn’t want to win, you shouldn’t care either. It might be the best thing to re-invent the party.