MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Hot Air’s Allahpundit are in rare agreement: A video produced for the Republican National Convention that played on the evening of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech should have been featured more prominently in prime time. Why? It was touching, humanizing and uplifting – and it also highlighted Romney’s professional accomplishments in a very compelling way. Because the ‘likeability’ factor is such a major component of this campaign, why wouldn’t RNC organizers have moved heaven and earth to ensure that tens of millions of voters would be exposed to such a brilliant piece of biographical art? Before we tackle that question, let’s watch it. I realize that 10:30 is a decent chunk of time to invest in a YouTube clip, but c’mon – it’s Labor Day, and the video is well worth your time:
High marks for production values and content. My personal favorite moment is the light bulb snippet; I laughed out loud at Mitt's aluminum foil "fix." Given how compelling and effective this video is, a strong argument can be made that airing it during the heart of prime time should have been a no-brainer. Sure, everyone in the packed convention hall (hardly undecideds) saw it, as did the CSPAN crowd, but most home viewers did not. Here's the dilemma Team Romney encountered: The major broadcast networks decided they'd only cover the 10-11pm ET hour each night. Peggy Noonan writes that this choice is a national scandal, and I agree, but that's another subject for another day. So the Romney folks had to make a choice. The final hour could feature Clint Eastwood or the video, but not both. They opted for the former. I think the Hollywood star's presentation turned out to be a net positive for Romney -- I may revisit this point later -- but was he really better than this bio spot, at the end of the day? Donning my Monday morning quarterback helmet, I'd say Eastwood should have gone at 9:45 or so (every single cable news outlet would have run it in full, plus the video ended up going mega viral anyway), followed by Marco Rubio at the top of the hour. The video above would then have served as a moving and inspirational introduction for the candidate's entrance, guaranteeing that it would air with peak viewership.
In any case, hindsight is 20/20 and this whole discussion is moot. What's done is done. That being said, I still think the Romney campaign should consider promoting this video aggressively online. A final thought: In 2008, the Obama campaign was flush with cash. As election day approached, with coffers overflowing, they secured a 30 minute prime time slot on two national broadcast networks to air a documentary-style mega ad. Mitt Romney currently enjoys a large fundraising/cash-on-hand advantage over his rival, and I imagine the money will continue to flow in. I won't pretend to have any special knowledge of the Romney camp's spending priorities, but I wonder if they'd at least consider shelling out substantial bucks to air some version of this clip in the final weeks of the campaign -- if the resources are there, of course.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography