Sean Trend of Real Clear Politics recently had an analysis of a Pew Study regarding the upcoming presidential election. Specifically, he cites the fact that when people were asked whether they had an opinion of Obama, 90% had to 8% no. Regarding Mitt Romney, the split was that 69% had an opinion, but 28% had not. Most importantly, with independents who had not reached a definitive opinion of Romney, 42% wanted to know more about his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, 37% wanted to know more about his tenure at Bain Capital, and another 35% wanted to know what was in his tax returns.
The article concludes that since most of the electorate has made up their mind on Obama, one can make the logical conclusion- given other polls about his approval ratings or those that track the direction of the country- that they are dissatisfied with him. However, the fact so fewer people have an opinion on Romney, the article states that the electorate is now trying to decide whether Romney is, at best, the lesser of two evils or whether he is the answer to help this country. All of this may very well be true, but then the article veers a little off course and makes a huge jump from analysis to Republican strategy.
Specifically, it asserts that Romney needs to go "positive" in his advertisement strategy against Obama. By noting that 90% of Republican advertisements have thus far been negative attack advertisements against Obama, he is not addressing those independents, whose votes he needs to win, who are still trying to make up their minds about him.
The only problem with this strategy exclusively at this point is that the opposition- Obama and company- are on the negative attack against Romney. Furthermore, they are obscuring the issue, which is the economy, with unrelated musings about Romney's tenure as Governor, his tenure at Bain Capital and his tax returns. Ironically, these are the three items independents supposedly would like to see more information on before making a decision. If true, then one would surmise that the Obama attack ads are holding weight. Therefore, by "going positive" and addressing these items, as the article suggests, then that would be validating the Obama obscuring attacks on Romney.
This strategy of "going positive" in response to negative attack advertisements is a losing proposition. Romney is up against an opponent hell-bent on another four years to double down on his liberal agenda. Romney is up against an opponent born of the dirty politics of Chicago. The campaign of 2008 should be a guide on how not to run a campaign.
The fact is that there have been a number of Obama/Biden gaffes thus far on the campaign trail. Of course, the best known is four words- "You didn't build that." Romney would be a fool not to jump on these words and put Obama on the defensive. If these items- Romney's tax returns and tenure as Governor and at Bain Capital- are fair game in order to forge an opinion of Romney, then Obama's tenure as President is certainly fair game- something he obviously is shying away from- as is his tenure as a do-nothing Senator, liberal state senator, and socialist community organizer. If Bain Capital and his tenure as Governor give us insight into what type of President Mitt Romney would be, then all those items left over from 2008- ACORN, Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright- equally are indicative of what type of President Obama aspires to be in a second term. Let us face reality- Obama got a free pass on so many things in the 2008 campaign as the country swooned at the Orator-in-Chief. In a second term, a President is unshackled from walking that fine line in hopes of winning votes two or three years down the line in an reelection effort. He will not have those political brakes on his liberal agenda. Because as bad as his first term was, a second term could be disastrous.
Three things stand between disaster and, ironically, hope. The best solution would be for the American electorate to fire Barack Obama in November. If not, then we must rely on an "obstructionist" Congress and/or the Supreme Court. Even there, there are no guarantees.
What the article suggests at its conclusion is the exact opposite of what Romney must do. He needs to ignore these distractions and focus the electorate's attention on 1.5% GDP growth and the fact the unemployment rate has not been under 8% for the entirety of Obama's presidency. The information regarding those items the article suggests independents crave from Romney is available from a simple Google search. There, one can find any number of articles on Romney's tenure as Governor. Even Wikipedia does a decent job in that area. They can see that, on balance, Bain Capital under Mitt Romney's leadership, won about as many as he lost, but that he was a net job creator. Most of the criticism of him as Governor is of a comparative nature- "Massachusetts ranked 47th in terms of job growth under Romney..." They leave out the fact that the Romney administration was bracketed by two recessions. However, the state DID create jobs under his leadership, just not to the degree as other states. The same can be said of all the other criticisms in this area.
When Obama and Axelrod and company trot out the cases of Bain Capital failures, they can be met with an example of Bain Capital successes. As for those pesky tax returns, there is nothing pesky about them. In 2008, Romney was vetted by the McCain campaign when considered as a running mate. Those tax returns were seen and although second-hand, the gist is this: there are items that the Democrats can use as ammunition against Romney if taken out of context, but he overpaid his taxes. There is nothing nefarious in those returns. And because this president or that president released X number of years of tax returns is besides the point. By law, he is required to release his two most recent tax returns and he has. Because previous presidents went above and beyond that mandate does not make their "norm" the law.
Finally, at some point the candidates will have to discuss policy issues and some specifics. Releasing a 52-point program is one thing that appeals to policy wonks to pour over and analyze and crunch numbers. As far as positivity in the campaign, succinctly putting forth policy proposals that all Americans can clearly understand is a must. Defining Barack Obama as the antithesis of the American ideal, however, goes hand-in-hand with that strategy. The best part is that Obama is writing the campaign slogans for electing Mitt Romney.