To these voters, (and there are lots of them if you were paying attention to the last midterm election), Obama’s flippant off-mic gaffe with the Russian figurehead is a chilling reminder that no matter how likeable the president seems to be, he is still the hard left ideologue they tried to send a message to in 2010. And this gaffe gives them the impression either that message wasn’t received, or was just ignored entirely.
This is the sort of comment that can really help a candidate like Romney in a general election. It takes the focus off the fact that lots of voters (including lots of Republicans) have serious misgivings about Romney, and it puts the focus back on Obama.
For example, if I were running Romney’s general election campaign (and I shudder even just typing those words), I would base my entire campaign strategy on the premise of this Obama gaffe. I would first go back to my skeptical conservative base and tell them this:
“You may not like me. You may not want me. But look how far left this guy has governed when he had to worry about re-election. Imagine what he and his minions will do when they don’t. Imagine agencies like the EPA, and appointments like Eric Holder running even more roughshod over your liberties without the fear of facing the voters ever again?”
Even for a Romney critic like me that is a potent argument.
To independents that have doubts about Obama, I would make a similar case but tether the message to their tastes:
“I’m not a right-winger. I’m a businessman who simply believes you do what works. This president, unlike Bill Clinton when he had a Republican Congress, has been unrelenting in advancing his ultra-liberal agenda, even to the point of ignoring your concerns. And he’s already making plans for how much further he’ll go if you give him another four years. Are you willing to take that chance?”
Frankly, this may be the only valid basis for a person of sincere moral conviction to justify voting for Romney that I can come up with. Furthermore, since incumbent presidents of have won 69% of the re-election campaigns in American history, this is probably Romney’s only shot to win a general election barring the United States becoming Greece in the next eight months—and the president played right into it. He’s lucky it’s only March and most of America has yet to pay attention.
Given the lack of voter enthusiasm for either Romney or Obama, and their combined resources, a battle between the two this fall could easily be the most expensive negative campaign in American history. Many media outlets have lost a lot of their advertising revenue in the recession, so a battle between two unpopular politicians with a war chest at their disposal to tear down one another is a media buyer’s dream.
With that war chest, you can trust Romney to exploit these sorts of gaffes by Obama in ways John McCain was too sanctimonious to do so four years ago. Romney doesn’t fancy himself some larger than life maverick that is above the partisan fray. Unlike McCain, he suffers from no delusions of grandeur in that department. He knows he’s a pandering, hack opportunist politician who will lie every lie and flip any flop to win—and he’s made his peace with it. He will put the boot to Obama’s throat if he has to, not man-hug him like McCain. Romney has no legacy to protect, only power to acquire.
Romney will do whatever it takes to win, as will Obama.
Boy, howdy! Won’t that be an inspiring campaign between two desperate candidates the majority of Americans don’t want, no real substantive differences between the two philosophically, and each with enough money to remind us of that in 30-and-60-second increments every commercial break.