The zombie narrative of a brokered convention is dead, and Politico is having to lay off the brokered convention team.
Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee and a very strong one who has emerged from the primary process focused on the economy and in a dead heat with the president.
Romney's speech last night was the best he has given, and it must reflect the investment of time available to such efforts when the nominee can focus and practice.
When former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt appeared on my program on April 27, 2009 to discuss the 2008 campaign, he made a memorable comment about Romney.
"I thought he was a very scary opponent looking from the other side of the table in that he was almost like a learning organism at the end," Schmidt said about the former Massachusetts governor. "He just kept getting better week by week by week, and kept becoming stronger."
That capacity to grow in the role was on display last night and it must have opened some eyes even wider in Chicago and inside the Beltway. And a hat tip to whomever helped the candidate polish the draft, as it was a very good speech. (Note to team: Start now on the Tampa Bay speech. "It's still the economy, and we're not stupid" is a great great line, but he needs many more.")
Pete Wehner has looked at the president's response to Romney's march to the GOP nomination, and finds a fairly desperate strategy of abandoning any attempt to run on the record of the Administration while lurching towards a high turn-out of the base. No doubt the president is thinking 2004, but the issue then was the war and George Bush was understood to be winning it. The issue now is the economy, and Barack Obama is understood to have destroyed it.
Except Apple. Romney is the one preaching that America can have scores and scores of Apples and hundreds of thousands of successful businesses if we just put government back into its appropriately circumscribed role. Romney believes in a growth rate that repairs the damage done by Obama, not a sharing out of a permanent stagnation. That is a fine position to begin from, and the map is already stretched in Romney's favor into every living room where a would be employee sits wondering if the opportunities he or she needs will ever come back. They can, but we have to do what must be done. We have to create for every business the circumstances that allowed Apple to innovate and grow explosively.
Quick, what role did government have in launching Apple skyward? Answer: None. But it did no harm.
Bill Kristol and I discussed the Romney way forward last night, including the intriguing prospect of an early selection of the Veep. The transcript is here. Once Romney decides --in a methodical, thorough, dignified fashion-- I expect he will announce his choice in order to put a productive asset to work in key battleground states as well as raising money and issues as needed. The bench is deep, and if there are "surprises" needed down the road, tip the hand on State, DoD, and especially Justice where so much rot has set in. The old rules said "wait" and don't name the candidate. Romney's not much of an "old rules" guy.
I suppose I should be pumping my 2007 book on Romney --A Mormon in the White House? since it remains in my humble estimate by far the best book about the candidate. But the really smart reporter will quickly get and read Romney's own books, the one he used to carefully sort through his positions in preparation for the campaign, No Apology, and the very interesting, very revealing Turnaround, about Romney's tenure at the head of the Salt Lake Games, which he took over when they were broke, beset by scandal, and in danger of failing. No reporter ought to be working on the campaign who hasn't got Romney's books under his or her arm and mine on the Kindle, but of course they are out there, busy chasing the "war on women" or whatever goof-ball narrative Chicago has cooked up this week. ("Can I hear an amen?")
Romney is now loose on the campaign trail, able to go in any direction he wants, inventing and implementing any new strategy he prefers. His job now is to persuade independents and many Democrats that if they want real growth to return to the country so it can accomplish real things of value, they must make a change. There is no shame in having bought the Obama message in 2008, but there would be real tragedy in doing so a second time.
And if you are a Romney supporter there is real shame in sitting on the sidelines as opposed to signing up for the virtual campaign and making a contribution, whether of $10 or $2500. You can contribute here, and perhaps to some other crucial races in 2012. But do get off the coach. Romney has to win, or the hole will be so deep as to defy all known answers.