After an extraordinary few weeks in which President Obama & Media detoured an American presidential campaign to an off-the-record video gaffe and the polling horse race, Mitt Romney is getting his chance to refocus the campaign on the serious economic issues that confront the country. Those issues – stagnant employment, 10-percent-of-GDP-deficits, rising energy prices, EPA mandates throwing thousands of miners out of work – have virtually disappeared from the headlines as the Obamedia followed the Democratic Party’s talk-about-anything-but-the-economy-stupid strategy.
Many pundits have swallowed the media narrative that the race is over and Romney can only change the inevitable if he throws the long-ball, shakes up the race with a debate bombshell, and becomes a right-wing Rottweiler. I beg to differ. If the lessons of Rick Snyder’s gubernatorial debate performance are any guide, America – like Michigan in 2010 – knows the stakes of this election despite the press chaff.
America yearns for competence. Let Romney be Romney. Or, perhaps, let Romney be Snyder.
Like Romney, Snyder was a businessman seeking higher office. And like Romney, he campaigned at a time when the economy in Michigan was on the mend – but was hampered by structural problems of over-regulation, spending, crony capitalism, and long-term liabilities. Granted, Snyder was not running against the incumbent that had delivered this mess – but he was campaigning against Jennifer Granholm’s policy clone, Virg Bernero.
Democrat Bernero tried to divert the debate to issues of Snyder’s wealth, his transfer of jobs to China, and the former Gateway exec’s alleged preference of Wall Street over Main Street – in short, the same playbook that Obama has brought to the debates so far. Snyder’s debate performance was a masterful display of a candidate sticking to what he knows, attacking where appropriate, and ultimately seizing the mantle of manager most competent for the job.
From his opening statement, Snyder looked the more serious man.
“Why are we here tonight?” began Snyder. “Because we all love Michigan. But our state is suffering. We’re in economic disaster. We have a broken government. It’s not the time to talk about the problems or dwell on blame. The key is: what’s the solution? It’s time to reinvent Michigan. I’ve got a 10-point plan that really focuses in on jobs, and then an attitude of action. I’m a proven job creator. I want to bring real world common sense solutions to Lansing.”
Bernero’s comeback was the Full Obama.
“I’m not a multi-millionaire like my opponent,” he said. And: “If you think the rules are working fine and the banks are treating people fairly, he’s your guy.” And: “He’s involved in economic development, yes, but it’s for himself and the folks at the top.”
Snyder’s response? “There he goes again,” the venture capitalist said with a smile.
“I mean, he’s being very consistent at least. I think if he says it enough times it will become true. I mean, these allegations are just incorrect,” he continued. And then he was right back on theme: “The real issue that matters here is we’ve lost a million jobs in Michigan. Let’s put Michiganders to work. I’m the proven job creator in this race.”
Snyder meet Romney. Snyder’s Relentless Positive Action not only made him real to voters, it gave them what they crave most. They don’t want division.
They want leadership.