So, unless you have completely been away from media since Monday, you have heard about Mitt Romney’s colossal failures in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado. His entire campaign has collapsed, and he may as well just pack it in, and return to one of his palatial estates in the northeast. Right? That is the narrative his competition would have us believe is going to occur. He is down, and he is out. I, on the other hand, am not so sure.
So, what does the miraculous-sweep of the three states mean for Romney’s seeming inevitability? For me, not much. Other candidates may see it as a sign that there will surely be a brokered convention, or that there is serious rejection of Romney among Republicans. I, however, see a few silver linings to the “rejection” of Romney.
First, these losses are seen as huge and unexpected – he should play to this fact. As the campaign wears on, he can show himself as a candidate who is not the stuff-shirt, boring, businessman that he has been painted as, but he is a candidate who is flexible. He now has a situation, if he sells it right, that allows him to break out of his silver-spoon, always-been-a-winner, never-had-any-struggles story. He needs to make more people aware of any struggles or tragedies he may have faced. A candidate who can bounce back from unexpected setbacks, who can roll with unexpected punches and is dynamic, that kind of guy is seen as a better president – the type who can lead an ever-changing country. He has now been bested in five states, and if he acts humbled (as he should be), people may see a more relate-able guy (especially in a country facing so many problems, that have touched everyone). He should create a contrast to the effete, aloof Obama.
Secondly, the sheer appeal of candidates like Santorum and Gingrich, who are “conservative alternatives,” shows him what many people are seeking. Romney sure does not do himself any favors by having candidates who have already been losers to Obama (read: John McCain) appear with him. If that is somehow supposed to help him, why not invite Alan Keyes and Jack Ryan to events too? He should maximize any appearances he can make with prospective GOP Congressmen, especially those who are seen as farther right than any others. Meet with current GOP leaders (like Jim DeMint) that holds sway with conservatives, and adopt and advocate for views he shares. He does not need to be seen as any farther left or moderate when his record and talking heads already make him appear that way. He should play up the angle as much as possible, that capitalism did not put us in the economic quagmire we find ourselves in, but capitalism will lead us out.
The economic angle being stressed, will help at events too – feature the people who kept their jobs because of Bain’s investments and actions, and contrast them against the president’s claims of saved jobs. “This is what a real, legitimately saved job looks like America!” Use full advantage of any opportunities like this to differentiate and take shots at failed Obama policies. The more these regulations and economy-killing policies are brought up to voters, the more firmly Obama can be painted as a complete economic blunderer and failure, and the more people will see you as a person who understands the dire situation, and is competent and able to turn a stumbling country around.
He should look to build consensus wherever he can – against the do-nothing Senate, and the any Democratic Senators for continually neglecting their duties. This could help ensure that he would have a more “friendly”, GOP-led Senate. Because of the recent political fallout and anger at the “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare, Romney could point out the struggles and religious persecution he has faced as a Mormon, and stress how he would never support anything resembling that mandate. Take a stand with Catholics and others, promising to strip out or veto any legislation sent to you with any religious questionability.
Finally, he should take concrete, permanent stands on issues and stick with them. He should draw guidelines and NOT deviate – there is so much concern that Romney is “wishy-washy” and flip-flops. When elected, he should make sure he does everything he can to see those issues’ passing and enforcement occur. America is tired of suave leaders, who are so self-assured that they have convinced themselves that they can do no wrong. He should be humble and willing to listen, and admit as much. He needs to take full advantage of events like CPAC to talk to people, and speak without the safety of prepared material. He needs to show people the person, they seem to have seen nearly enough of the candidate.