Romney adviser Vin Weber worries about GOP turnout in Minnesota races

Vin Weber
hhh.umn.eduVin Weber

There was a worry in Vin Weber’s generally upbeat assessment of Republican chances for victory in November.

The former congressman and GOP consultant was asked at a Humphrey Institute forum at the University of Minnesota on Friday about Republican turnout in Minnesota.

“I’m worried about that,” he responded. “It’s worrisome that the top two positions don’t appear to be competitive.”

If Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign doesn’t deliver and land some punches soon, Weber said, he fears that Minnesota’s record of always choosing the Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s commanding lead over Kurt Bills will hurt Republicans down the ticket.

There may be a suggestion of a top-of-the-ticket weakness in the 6th District, where Democrat Jim Graves is touting his chances of defeating Rep. Michele Bachmann.

“She needs to take this race very seriously, and she is,” Weber said. Bachmann has many political advantages, he said, not the least of which is her loyal base of voters. “But her problem is, she ran for president,” Weber said. “National notoriety does not help in the district.”

But Dave Fitzsimmons, candidate for state representative in district 30B in Buffalo, the conservative heart of the 6th District, sees no flagging of Bachmann support where he lives. Furthermore, he questions the intensity of Democratic voters and whether Klobuchar or President Obama has pulling power.

“I just don’t see excitement driving those voters here to the polls,” he said.

Close race

Weber said the presidential race is “remarkably close.” “What has to change is that the Romney campaign is on the defense, and that has to change,” he said.

He noted Republican image-maker and former Bachmann presidential campaign manager Ed Rollins has said that Romney needs to turn it around in the next few days and not count on the debates to be the game-changer.

Romney needs to score some points on substance, Weber said, and not rely on tactical diversions. It could be as simple as making three major speeches on the economy, jobs and foreign policy. “The problem isn’t lack of specificity. He has a lot,” Weber said. “But he hasn’t figured out how to wrap it up into a nice, neat package.”

Weber, who is an adviser to the Romney campaign, although not a close one, agreed with Romney’s own assessment that the candidate’s choice of words at the infamous Boca Raton fundraiser was “inelegant.”

Rather than dismissing the 47 percent who don’t pay taxes, Romney should talk about giving them more opportunities so they can pay taxes, Weber said.

“My own view is that a mistake was made with the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’” Weber said.  “The right questions is, ‘Will you be better off four years from now?’”

He said the Obama and Romney campaigns have failed to focus on issues, even though both say this is the most important election in decades. “You wouldn’t tell that based on what they’re talking about,” he said.

No shakeups

But Weber still has confidence in Romney and doesn’t expect campaign shakeups. “The governor produces a very healthy form of loyalty,” he said. “He performed well in the [primary] debates, in the primaries. The campaign is organized.” 

Weber also noted that funding of the Romney campaign, when combined with money from the Republican National Committee, is $40 million ahead of the president and the Democratic National Committee.  

As for legislative candidates, it’s true that the further down the ticket, the less the top makes a difference. But Weber cited recent polls that have shown that in this election, party preference is coinciding with candidate preference – in other words, if you say you are Democrat, you will be less likely to switch that preference as you go down the ballot.

Still, “it’s winnable, it’s not a lost cause,” Weber said, choosing his words carefully. “They need to let him [Romney] talk about the issues.” Romney needs to ask, “Do you want to keep marching down this road?”

Republicans would be a lot less nervous if Romney starts expanding on the issues and undecided voters answer that question with a “no.”

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by David Frenkel on 09/24/2012 - 11:16 am.


    Weber made no comment about Romney’s politcal gaffe comments that have made national press and plenty of comic material for shows like Saturday Night Live. He does need to stay on script and not allow himself to pander to special interest groups like the very rich to get their financial support.

  2. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 09/24/2012 - 12:44 pm.


    “The problem isn’t lack of specificity. He has a lot.”

    False. Completely, utterly, unequivocally false. Romney still has not said which tax deductions he would eliminate. The mortgage interest deduction is huge for middle class families. My family would lose over $8000 if this were eliminated. What other dedications would he kill? State tax deduction? Student loan interest deduction? How high will my own taxes be raised under Romney? Why won’t he say?

    I would not trust Mitt Romney any farther than my two-year-old could throw him.

  3. Submitted by Robert Ryan on 09/24/2012 - 12:53 pm.


    I wonder if Vin ever reconsiders his relationship with the GOP. There was a time when the GOP was a reasonable party, and Mr. Weber always gave the impression of being a reasonable man. Today the GOP gives the impression of having abandoned all pretense of caring about the common good.

    I suppose the new party motto is: My party, right or wrong.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/24/2012 - 01:59 pm.

    ….The right questions is, ‘Will you be better off four years from now?”….

    That is the right question, but without specificity from Romney, how can anyone predict the answer except with the negative?

    It is clear that the 1% will be better off in 4 years, but the answer for the rest is totally in doubt. And his waffling and flip-flopping on virtually every issue and obvious disdain for 47% of the population do not build confidence in his proposals. And virtually every employee in the world, with work conditions and wages, has been under the gun from managers like Romney for the past decade or so.

  5. Submitted by myles spicer on 09/24/2012 - 02:20 pm.

    The winner

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece in Minnpost: “Ten reasons why Obama will win” — I stand by the prediction

  6. Submitted by myles spicer on 09/24/2012 - 02:23 pm.


    Article was SIX reasons Obama will win (Minnpost 8/8) — anyway, six is enough

  7. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/24/2012 - 07:29 pm.

    One can understand…

    Vin Weber’s position, and party loyalty needs to be maintained I suppose but Romney is going down the way of Bachmann I’m afraid… hopefully? .

    Weber tells a delicate story but not too realistic and must be more definitive if he wants to be taken seriously?

    Then again,think of a man trying to balance a tea cup with gloves on in order not to spill the contents …not to worry Web,,,the cup is not even half full, it’s empty

  8. Submitted by Roy Everson on 09/25/2012 - 09:22 am.

    I’d like to see…

    … the Minnpost reporter bring up a half dozen of Bachmann’s most egregious lies, slanders and bigoted fear-mongering comments to Vin Weber, then ask, “Mr. Weber, why don’t any Republicans do something to heal the nation’s broken politics by urging her defeat. Have you no shame?”

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