I remember the day that John McCain picked Palin as his VP choice. My wife -- who refused to do anything to help McCain -- immediatly called up the RNC and started going door-to-door to support McCain/Palin. She went out every day, and was very excited. Many other people who didn't like McCain, but would have voted for him anyway, were excited. On the other hand, moderate men and women who had liked McCain in the past, switched to supporting Obama. They, rightly or wrongly, felt Palin was a purely political choice and saw McCain as a panderer and no longer a principled leader. In their opinion, there were other people more qualified to be President than Palin. Fair or unfair, the choice of Palin had that effect.
McCain made a series of other errors on his campaign. They all fell under the plan of trying to win conservative voters and inspire the base.
In 2004, the week before the election, George Bush came out in favor of states passing bills allowing for civil unions. I do not agree with that as policy, but my point is that that step was one of many that Bush did to move him left during the 2000 and 2004 election. Bush in 2000, moved left after he got the nomination and went from opposition to Campaign Finance Reform, to a pledge to sign it.
Reagan's movements to the left were actually much stronger than Bush's. Reagan, in running for office in 1980 outlined his plans for the federal government to pass laws telling private corporations who to hire and promote. He campaigned hard on closing the pay gap between men and women; on his plans to hire women over men, and on his promise to appoint a female Supreme Court justice. Reagan ran hard left before the election in an attempt to appeal to swing and moderate voters. Before that, Reagan had fought hard to have homosexual teachers in the classroom, despite studies showing this increased the risk for child abuse. Reagan ran far to the left of where people remember him.
Romney is losing in Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. He will not win the election if he runs right, or even stays where he is. Here is what he must do to win:
- First, he needs to pick a moderate VP. Rubio would be a disaster. Rubio has no executive experience and Romney has already campaigned that executive experience is key. McDonnel -- who I supported as a pick in the past -- is another bad pick. Polling shows that a Romney-McDonnel ticket trails Obama 50-43% in the must-win state of Virginia (McDonnel's home state). Terry Branstad, of Iowa, would probably be one of the best choices. Jeb Bush is another good choice, though he is a little on the conservative side for a winning pick. The key idea Romney needs to focus on is picking a VP that gives a clear signal that he is moving to the center, and that he is rejecting the tea party. Dislike of Obama will motivate folks to vote for Romney so long as they view Romney as the lesser of 2 evils. Romney cannot win this election based on the idea that folks like him, so he might as well give up with that. His only path is to move center. Branstad also gives Romney a win in Iowa, which is a key swing state.
- Second, Romney needs to flip-flop some possitions. First, he needs to support comprehensive immigration reform exactly as Bush and McCain did. Then, he needs to refuse to sign Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes and say that "he does not plan to raise taxes," but that he isn't taken to signing pledges. He needs to make that an issue, again, to distance himself from conservatives. Third, Romney needs to start talking about how great unions are and how they help ensure workers get a "fair" wage and "fair" benefits. Next, Romney needs to start talking about how teachers are underpaid and how great they are and how much he loved his teachers. Then, Romney needs to talk about the great services being dong by boarder patrol agents, defense and national security workers, and the civilian men and women defending our country, and needs to say that he supports a fair day's wage for a fair day's work and say Obama was wrong to freeze federal wages and that he supports pay for performance to attract and retain the best and the brightest. Then, Romney needs to talk about how he things the country is too divided and that he thinks the blame is both on Obama and on Congressional Republicans. Romney needs find a couple times and critisize Erick Cantor, and too say that the GOP budget is divisive and not what he would suggest. By now, most conservatives will join Rick Santorum in Puking. However, I remember in 2000 watching the Bush Gore debate. I was in college Republicans at the time for one of the debates and I and the president of our college republicans were together watching it. Every Bush answer he hated. Every answer -- for him -- was too liberal. Bush, if we recall, was talking about protecting social security, and "compassionate conservatism" and that he was for "affirmative access." The way you win elections is to win swing voters; and frankly, swing voters are exactly the people who make conservative puke.
- Romney needs to diffuse his buisness experience problem. He needs to have some reflective moments where he says that he made some mistakes in business. When Obama supporters come at him in the debates and in town hall meetings and says that Romney costs workers their jobs while making millions. Romney needs to be able to answer the question from the person who he laid off and say that, "I cannot talk about specifics because there are real people involved who are innocent and this would not be fair to them; but if the question is have I made mistakes: the answer is yes. Mistakes I have learned from. One of the things you notice about my campaign is that I -- as I have laid out -- think that there is too big of a gap between the rich and the poor. That gap is always due to a difference in work ethic or skills. It is now at the point where I think that many people who have made the type of money that I have made probably, myself included, made more money than we deserve. On the other hand, many of the folks at the bottom of the ladder work hard every day and deserve a livable wage, healthcare, retirement, and a fair days pay for a fair day's work. If elected, I will work towards that goal. People learn the most from their mistakes; and I have learned and will work to improve life for all Americans, especially those at the bottom and the middle." Again, conservatives may puke, but Romney needs to overcome his money problem. Money and private business experience is good in a GOP primary, not-so-good in a general election during a recession.
- Romney needs to come up with a healthcare plan to replace Obamacare with. Romney's plan needs to be something that does not include any of the items in McCain's 2008 plan. Rather, it needs to be a scalled-down version of ObamaCare. A good example is as follows: A- Plan will have a set of requirements as to what is covered that will, by law, exclude any item from being required from coverage that was not required by the health plan for federal employees as of 2008. This excludes coverage for abortion, or 100% coverage for contraception, etc. B- the plan was include a broad exception allowing employers to opt-out based on religious or moral objections and only require that any items opted out of be disclosed to any potential applicant AND that any items opted out of must be offset by an equal value amount of items being covered beyond what is required. So, for example, if someone does not cover contraception, they could add some dental or vision coverage in its place (federal health insurance has no requirement for any dental or vision coverage). C- The plan would be paid for 100% by a set income source and get no income outside that source (just like how social security, medicaid, and medicare are paid for). It will be off-budget and not allowed any tax money from the budget to help it. D- The plan will have 50-state wavers to allow any state to opt-out. The effect of having an Obamacare lite is that it negates the downsides of Romney's Romneycare, and makes it sound like he has a consistant principled possition of supporting something, but something much different from Obamacare.
- Romney needs to have a couple small, big-government programs. Here are some examples. A- a perscription drug effort. This would be an effort that Romney could support and propose to lower the costs of perscription drugs by (1) requiring generics be used for folks on government assistance, (2) having the federal governmetn purchase the rights to some of the most popular drugs and then allow them to be made in generic form, thus lowering the costs for all consumer to buy these drugs. B- another program could be a plan to raise the federal gas tax by 5 cents to fund road construction with money provided to states as block grants (it would never actually pass, and would help him look green and big-government). C- yet another big government idea that wouldn't be horrible is a plan to encourage the development of nuclear power.
- Romney then needs to distance himself in a number of statments from how McCain ran in 2008. Romney should, for example, blame wallstreet greed for the economic problems. He should talk about feeling the pain of folks, and start having laid off people at his campaign events and telling their sob stories and saying that if elected that he will never forget them, and never forget how wall street greed can destory families.
In summary, Romney needs to make conservatives puke.