I have already gone on record saying that the Romney campaign has not been mean and tough enough. The Obama crowd, which knows it is important to define an opposing candidate in a negative light before the candidate really gets to introduce himself to the public, has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at both Romney and Paul Ryan to accomplish that goal. There is now some evidence that the Romney camp and its supporters are getting more aggressive in their efforts to define President Obama.
But while they have not reached the butt-kicking Lee Atwater take-no-prisoners effort of years past, the GOP and the Romney campaign are starting to show that they can run a campaign rough enough to keep up with Obama's shady Chicago crowd.
The pick of Ryan, while perhaps not the best strategic choice, nevertheless brings a brawler into the GOP effort. Ryan has never hesitated to take the president to task, whether on talk shows or face to face in open forums.
What he does not bring is a loyal state that can be counted on in November. And he comes with the baggage of his own -- the GOP House budget that he helped craft and that, under a cursory and unfair interpretation, appears to threaten Medicare recipients and puts Florida at risk.
Enter the winning strategy.
It starts with an aggressive ad campaign in Florida that points out that Obamacare actually called for huge reductions in Medicare to help fund the president's monstrous health care initiative. That must be followed up by planting Marco Rubio, my choice for the VP nomination, firmly in Florida for the next few months, explaining that the Ryan and certainly the Romney plan would not affect anyone currently eligible and would keep the program solvent.
The second part of the strategy would be a no-holds-barred, vicious attack on the hypocrisy of President Obama and his administration. In my years of running campaigns and polling them, I have found that no ad is more effective than the so-called hypocrisy ad.
Rather than to simply use Obama's promises of an improved economy made several years ago and stating that he failed, the hypocrisy ad presents the message differently.
It basically starts with Obama's claims of economic success and his promises of the past followed by a narrator who says during his presidency he has constantly claimed that he is making progress with the economy while millions have been forced to the unemployment lines and onto food stamps, and many more have struggled. President Obama has spent vacations in Hawaii, more days playing golf than meeting with his economic policy team and traveling from city to city, raising millions of dollars with movie stars and celebrities. Barak Obama speaks one way, but his actions are completely different.
Now, that's just a start. Every time the Obama campaign comes up with a nitpicky new issue that they focus on, the GOP and Romney should swiftly take to the air with ads pointing out how bad the economy is. That the programs he passed resulted in no improvement. That he has run a secretive administration in which agencies target individual citizens. Drones are ordered to fly over our homes, and mandates move us closer to old failed systems of government -- "hint," can you say "Soviet Union"?
The last part of the strategy would be to prepare for the debates early on. While most people believe debates make no difference, they in fact were the determining factor in Kennedy vs. Nixon, Ford vs. Carter, Reagan vs. Carter and, to a lesser extent, George H.W. Bush vs. Dukakis. A knockout blow by Romney in those debates might just turn what had been a meandering campaign into a winner.