“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”
The strategy will likely backfire. There is little evidence that the country is looking to replace one liberal with another. Romney is only the front runner because he has name recognition and the other moderates in the field either do not or have blown their credibility in previous campaigns. That leaves Romney against a few viable candidates who have split the conservative vote. When the conservative field is narrowed to just Bachmann or Cain against Romney and establishment moderates, a conservative will emerge anyway. If the current leaders in the conservative field implode, they will quickly be replaced by an establishment conservative such as Texas Governor Rick Perry or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
2012 is shaping up to be the perfect storm for the conservative movement. With a hobbled and discredited incumbent heading a party who has clung to the notion that you can spend yourself out of debt and into prosperity, we could see a reload of the Reagan revolution. The only question is which variety of “conservative” we will get. There’s the establishment NeoCon variety or the Tea Party fiscal revolutionary strain. And there remains some fragments of the Newt Gingrich “conservative-like but sort of if you think about it – really” variety. Any of these would be better for the country than what we have now. And strategists on both sides seem to know Romney is none of them.
The “Mormon” card…
Another Obama advisor has floated the phrase, “Romney is weird…” — code for “Romney is a Mormon.” Members of the Mormon church do hold to some peculiar beliefs. However, America is sophisticated enough to realize that people of any religious persuasion have beliefs that seem peculiar to outsiders. One Fox News commentator, a Democratic strategist herself, noted today that Obama would be better off to brand Romney as a “Christian”, the implication being that people know how scary and crazed Christians are. Thus, religious bigotry remains on the Left — the people who would support Obama regardless of whether his opponent is a Mormon, a Christian or a Unitarian Universalist. The “Mormon card”, like the “race card” is just so much 20th Century politics.
Whoever the Republican nominee is, their best approach is to come out of the primaries with a reputation for being tough but not nasty. I suspect this is the year when negative campaigning will not be effective just because. The stakes are too high, and people will be looking for a leader who can be above the pettiness of “he said, she said.” They’re already looking for someone who can be above the petty blame game, which is part of what has proven Obama to be ineffective until now. If the GOP does go moderate yet again and chooses Romney or someone like him, they can still win. Romney may be the prototype of Obama, but in a fair match, people will go with the guy who has at least had some successes in his career.