Charlie Cook thinks Romney is blowing it

In his weekly “Off to the Races” column, Charlie Cook is puzzled by Team Romney’s passivity while Team Obama defines him as a walking Swiss bank account. Writes Cook:

“The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

“The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs.

“The election is still more than three months away, and yet it has a different feel than it did just a month ago. Just as some Democrats in mid-June were starting to sound as if they were giving Obama up for dead, Republicans are now despairing. We have to remind ourselves that this election still has a long way to go. Each side will have up and down weeks, and there will be many twists and turns along the campaign trail—and that isn’t even allowing for some big, unexpected, Black Swan event that could always happen.

“But, if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Tom Clark on 07/17/2012 - 09:46 am.

    And don’t forget

    that Romney hasn’t released records of his tax returns prior to 2010 either. Obama’s campaign is not so subtly hinting that it’s because Romney didn’t pay ANY taxes despite making millions. The longer Romney refuses to disclose his pre-2010 returns the more it makes it look true that he’s got something to hide.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 07/17/2012 - 09:48 am.

    What is Romney hiding?

    Maybe nothing? Limiting his tax returns sure lends itself to looking like there is something he is not proud of in his returns. The self-proclaimed businessman, who has been in politics in some form or another for years, knows tax returns are part of the political process and have been for a long time. He is losing the battle bit by bit. Even his own party and conservative pundits are saying he has to release them. There is something about tranparency that Mitt doesn’t like. Voters, Mitt is sending you a strong message of what type of president he would be – OPAQUE. If that is what you want, Mitt’s your man. The choice is yours in November.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 07/17/2012 - 10:16 am.

    understanding people

    The difference in the campaigns is one of understanding people; BHO does, while WMR does not. Looking at successful campaigns of the past, the candidate who relates to people better wins: Clinton & Bush 43 vs Kerry, Gore, Dole, Bush 41. WMR is too much the out of touch patrician elitist & doesn’t understand why he needs to change that image.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/17/2012 - 10:24 am.

    Romney’s tax returns are irrelevant

    The choice will be between the marxist or the capitalist. Everything else is meaningless.

  5. Submitted by Steve Roth on 07/17/2012 - 10:33 am.

    Romney fits the profile

    of a donor to his campaign that he won’t disclose.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/17/2012 - 10:51 am.

    Obama’s got Romney in a box

    There’s nothing that Romney and his flacks can say that won’t remind people that he’s filthy rich beyond anything they can understand or aspire to. Romney has defined himself; Obama just has to remind people about it.
    When Romney talks about the economy it’s a reminder that -he’s- not the one who’s hurting, not matter what happens. And every time he opens his mouth it’s a reminder that he is not us.
    Obama may be in the top 1% — Romney is in the 1% of 1% of 1%. People see the difference.

  7. Submitted by Ross Williams on 07/17/2012 - 11:01 am.

    The Political “Pros” of Summer

    This is the summer media story of every campaign. The only people paying attention are the political pros and they can’t understand why the campaigns aren’t doing more to make their case when no one else is listening. Frankly, its tough to “define” someone when the voters who will decide the election are all on vacation.

    Whenever some media expert says a campaign is doing something “inexplicable” they are wrong. Campaigns may make bad decisions, but they make them for a reason. If the media expert can’t figure them out it is because of their own failings, not the campaigns.

  8. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 07/17/2012 - 11:41 am.

    Lavender blues indeed…

    Re photo: a picture is worth a thousand words and this one deserves a few…

    One can assume there was a last minute switch; like a quick shirt change, yes, and as someone else noted, lavender shirt tails hooked on his jockey shorts?

    Stressed jeans below the belt line? Standard Romney uniform and thumbs in the pockets? Not the ‘stress’ of the working man to be sure.

    Glad Tim didn’t try to assimilate bib overalls.

    No not exactly a great shot but who cares if he’s trying to be a shadow, a step behind Romney who is himself a twin doll to a wrinkled Ken of Barbie and Ken fame?

    Parts all move mechanically please note.

    Plus duo- chauffeur Tim riding together in a pink toy, plastic convertible and you’ve got a great team for this conservative political sand box?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/17/2012 - 03:56 pm.


      Your criteria for political leadership is really deep. I’m impressed that you didn’t just stop at his racial makeup.

  9. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 07/17/2012 - 12:11 pm.

    Tax Return Strategy

    Romney’s tax returns will likely show that he (legally) paid VERY low taxes due to the tax treatment of profits from Bain and that he took advantage of offshore tax strategies. Damaging, but I doubt any more damaging than what being inferred by his not releasing them. Since I’m only the 27th million person to come to that conclusion, you have to wonder why.

    I agree that “Campaigns may make bad decisions, but they make them for a reason”. But in this case, it may be because the Romney campaign may be privy to information in those returns that the media is not.

    Or maybe he’s just letting the “inferences” get so bad that the reality looks good in comparison.

  10. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/17/2012 - 12:55 pm.

    I look at the economy and I think there’s no way that Obama can be re-elected.
    And then I look at Mitt Romney and think there’s no way Obama can lose.

  11. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 07/17/2012 - 03:19 pm.

    Isn’t part of the problem

    that voters aren’t seeing anything in the way of actual policy from Romney that would make the economy better? More tax cuts on high earners plus deregulation doesn’t strike people as a winning formula, especially when coupled with Romney’s now pretty much set-in-stone image as a man of the 1%. Given that, they’ll go with the more likable guy who at least is trying to improve the lot of the average American.

    As the saying goes “You can’t beat something with nothing.” So far, the Romney campaign hasn’t offered anything that makes sense to many voters as a reasonable way to improve the economy. He has relied on “Trust me, I’m a successful businessman”—and through his own missteps and the messaging of the Obama campaign, that has been turned against him. What else is there?

Leave a Reply