Now is an appropriate time to reflect on what went wrong for us in 2012 because we should not allow our mistakes to happen next time around.
I believe if Mitt had not made some fatal errors in his campaign strategy, he could have won.
First of all, President Obama’s campaign permanently tarnished Mitt’s reputation and image. Their portrayal of Mitt as a rich guy who did not care about ordinary people, however blatantly false, worked. Although these are not politically reliable sources, even TV talk shows and the average person felt like Mitt was just looking out for the rich. Frankly, if Mitt ‘s campaign had done something more than smile back to these attacks, this false image of him would not have lingered.
Think about it.
Obama’s campaign accused Mitt of being responsible for a woman dying. And Mitt smiled back.
Obama’s campaign ran ads about Mitt opposing the auto bailout and not caring about blue collar workers. And Mitt smiled back.
Obama’s campaign repeatedly accused Mitt of presiding over outsourcing at Bain. And Mitt smiled back.
Harry Reid and many other Democrats accused Mitt of being a felon and not paying taxes. And Mitt smiled back.
Obama successfully accused Mitt of being secretive with his tax proposals as far as what exemptions, loopholes, deductions, and so forth that he would limit or close. And Mitt smiled back.
Obama’s campaign accused Mitt of favoring a tax plan that would only benefit the rich. And Mitt smiled back.
Mitt left WAY too many charges unanswered. This almost doomed him among lower income Americans from the start. Mitt did not respond aggressively and with his own negative attacks when he should have. There was more negative to use against the incumbent at least since President Carter in 1980.
That brings me to my next point. Mitt was not aggressive or authentic enough. He recited a very bland, generic message that did not appeal so much to the masses. Stuart Stevens et al. ran the campaign on a very, very flawed strategy: That the incumbent had such a poor record that all Mitt had to be was a reasonable enough alternative and middle-of-the-road voters would largely break toward him. That obviously did not happen.
Why not? Because, combined with the successful evil-rich-guy image they bestowed upon Mitt, the Obama campaign convinced the majority of voters to stick with who they already knew, who they already were aware of what they were getting into with. Essentially it boils down to this: Most voters decided that Mitt was not a desirable enough alternative to the incumbent with a weak record.
That brings me to yet another point. Mitt was vague. He left many Americans in doubt of what exactly he wanted to do as President.
He provided no vision on foreign policy, especially when compared to Obama’s foreign policy. The average American could not have told you what Mitt wanted to do overseas.
Again, the lack of specificity on his tax plan allowed the Obama campaign to continue the narrative that ‘Mitt is not looking out for the average person.’ And it stuck. Mitt’s reputation with the average person was that he was out of touch.
The bottom line is that Mitt was a great nominee for many reasons, but was also lacking in many areas. If we do not allow many of these charges to stick to our nominee next time; if we have a candidate who can appeal more to minorities (i.e. Rubio, Jindal); if we can have a candidate who stands for compassionate conservatism, a brand that provides a less muddled alternative to the Democrats; and if we have a candidate who does not change his issue positions for every election, then we should take the White House back and get the country back where it belongs.