Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Time for Hillary to trash Trump. He’s there for the taking

03/03/2016, 09:17:13 PM

by Samuel Dale

So it’s Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump.

The question now is how can Hillary beat the absurdist rise of the Donald?

The answer is simple: attack him, attack him hard and do it again & again.

Trash his character, his business record, his views on women, his lack of policies, his temperament and his bigotry and racism. Earlier today, Mitt Romney of all people showed the way.

Negative campaigning works. It works because the public are more willing to believe the worst in politicians than the best. They will tacitly agree when a politician’s flaws are being highlighted but act like cynics when politicians convey positive messages.

Every successful modern campaign goes negative and stays negative.

Labour did it in 1997 by attacking Tories on the NHS and pensions.

Obama did it in 2008 on Hillary over her support for the Iraq war.

The Tories hit Ed Miliband’s leadership & economic competence for four years to bear the fruits of victory last May. Miliband ran a positive campaign.

Obama went negative again even more successfully against Mitt Romney in 2012.

Romney was attacked remorselessly in negative ads on his business record at Bain Capital, the private equity manager.


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US campaign diary: Three reasons for Democrats to be calm about tonight’s debate

16/10/2012, 07:00:23 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

It’s nearly here. Two frustrating weeks since president Obama phoned in his performance in the Danville debate, he has the opportunity to make amends.

Across the nation, Democrat nerves will jangle and nails will be bitten. The more volatile will fear disaster at the end of every sentence while even the most confident will feel anxious.

But, in spite of the unavoidable tumult of emotion, rationally Dems should be calm. There are three reasons the result in New York tonight should be more to our liking: expectations about Romney’s performance, his weaknesses and the format

First, Romney is facing a tough fight in the media expectations game. He won last time out and won big. Anything less than a comparable result will have journalists writing about a drop in his level of performance.

The swing of the media pendulum is as predictable as it is exaggerated. The last fortnight gave them the opportunity to write a Romney rebound into reality. An avalanche of gushing pieces about the GOP candidate’s performance has changed the prism through which the public view the race and inevitably shifted the polls.

But that story has been written.

Barring a similarly pallid non-performance from Obama as in the first debate, a passable showing from the president will spawn a wave of comeback pieces.

A presidential fightback will give the media the new angle they need to churn through the next six days until the final debate. There will be review pieces on the performance, tick tock pieces on the minutiae of how the campaign prepared Obama and impact pieces looking at how it played in the battlegrounds.


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US campaign diary: a poor debate performance from Obama but Romney needs a lot more to change the game

05/10/2012, 04:29:37 PM

by Nikhil Dyundi

So Mitt Romney did well and president Obama phoned in his performance. It was unexpected and the Republicans are good for their positive headlines, but is it a game changer?

Simple answer: no.

There was no defining exchange, no zinger and no nightmare flub that can recast a candidate in an instant. We’ve already had one of those this electoral cycle. Rick Perry is a case study in what makes for one of those defining moments and unless I missed something, President Obama didn’t end up saying “oops” as he forgot one of his central policies.

If anything, the debate was just boring. Too many words from both candidates, too few answers, just charges repeated ad infinitum while the chair palpably failed to drive the exchanges with the vigour and verve that would have made for good TV.

Out in the country, opinions have already been formed. Nothing on Wednesday makes Mitt Romney less of the vulture capitalist. It’s impossible to undo weeks of dreadful headlines and little attempt was made by Romney to even address his negatives with voters.

The full impact of the debate will take time to percolate through the rolling 3 day samples of the tracker polls, but the one pollster who did a post-debate tracker –Ipsos Reuters – seems to validate this view.


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US campaign diary: the real story with Romney’s video is his reaction – the Republicans have shifted to a base strategy

18/09/2012, 03:07:16 PM

by Nikhil Dyundi

Wow. Just wow. No Democrat could have dared hope that Mitt Romney would have crashed his campaign so spectacularly.

It was already exhibiting disturbing warning signs.

Insiders had broken ranks and started briefing journalists on what was going wrong, pushing out blame in a vain attempt to escape the eventual wreckage with their consulting careers intact.

The polls were tilting against Romney and down ballot Republicans and the media consensus on the superiority of Obama’s campaign was hardening.

But still, there was time. Not much, but there was some space left to change the dynamic in the race. Then the video surfaced and it turns out the wall was a lot closer than anyone imagined.

The reaction in the US media has been unanimous – this is likely a campaign ending moment for Romney.

Sure, he will keep touring the country, the debates will still happen and hundreds of millions of dollars of Romney ads will be dumped on voters.

But in terms of this being a competitive race, the contest is over.

The video reinforces too many of the negatives about Romney and the Republicans at a critical juncture in the election. Even with unlimited funds, there are too few voters that can be persuaded in the little time remaining to switch from undecided to Romney.

The campaign strategy Romney sets out in the video – appealing exclusively to the undecided 10% who voted for Obama last time  but now aren’t sure – seems to be no longer viable.

That’s what the media think, along with the vast majority of political consultants. Some Republican talking heads have kept the faith on air and a few might even believe it.

You would expect the majority of this latter group to be closely involved with the campaign. One of the golden rules of politics is that you’ve got to believe there’s a shot at victory. No matter how narrow the path, its existence is what keeps politicians and campaigners going.

But here’s the kicker: judging by their reaction to the video, the Romney campaign is in full agreement that their strategy is a bust.

We know this because when Mitt Romney got up in front of the media at his scrambled press conference in California he didn’t do what Mitt Romney normally does. He didn’t obfuscate in too excruciating a manner, parse more than normal or even use the magic words, “I misspoke”.

Instead , he basically stood by his remarks.

The press conference has been written up as yet another gaffe in a catastrophic twenty-four hours. But this is unfair. The word gaffe implies an unintended mistake. Everything Romney said at his presser he meant.

It was the surest sign that they have fundamentally junked their old strategy with just weeks to go before the election.

In standing by the video, Romney is writing off the undecided centrist swing-voters who will likely be repelled by his words. And he certainly won’t be reaching out to convert any confirmed Obama voters.

No, the sole audience for the Romney campaign is now the Republican base.


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US campaign diary: polling evidence grows that Mitt Romney is failing to cut through

28/08/2012, 12:56:30 PM

by Nikhil Dyundi

The headline polls might still be showing a virtual tie between president Obama and Mitt Romney, but underneath the surface there is evidence that the Republicans are failing to make the break through that all opposition’s need to oust an incumbent.

It is certainly the case that the US public is barely engaged with the general election. The news is all about Isaac while the monthly struggle to make the paycheck stretch is vastly more important for most Americans than anything the politicians have to say.

But as the Republican convention starts, or not, depending on where Isaac is headed, a new poll from Pew shows that for the first time this century less than half of voters are interested in watching the new Republican presidential candidate’s convention speech.

44% expressed an interest in seeing Romney’s big speech, compared to 52% for McCain in 2008 and 53% for Bush in 2000.

In comparison, 51% of voters are interested in Obama’s acceptance speech. This is down from 58% in 2008, but still crosses the magic 50% threshold.

The failure to generate public anticipation and interest for Romney is a sign of how the campaign has run away from him. President Obama should be extremely vulnerable given the economic situation, but the poll is a powerful indicator that the Republicans have failed to establish Romney as an alternative president-in-waiting.

More worrying for Romney is that while most people are not interested in his speech, they are keen to learn more about the GOP platform: 52% said they were interested to know more about the platform.

Convention platforms, particularly for the GOP, are detailed, lugubrious affairs. The 2008 platform rambled on for 55 pages tackling every last arcane topic of concern to the fruit loops that populate the Republican fringe.

This year, for example there is a section on a return to the gold standard. For some reason the GOP are obsessed with the gold standard, in 1980 the platform forced Reagan to hold a commission on returning to the gold standard when he became president, which predictably, reported back in the negative.


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US campaign diary: the O-team is playing at a different level to the Romney campaign

20/08/2012, 07:00:10 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

Want to see some smart politics?

On Friday, Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager wrote to his Romney counterpart, Matt Rhoades, with an offer:  a pledge not to pressure Romney to release more than five years of tax returns if the Republican nominee would disclose that much information.

Romney had previously stated that one of the reasons he was not releasing further returns is that Democrats will always call on him to put out more than he has (if he releases three years, they’ll want six, etc.)

Naturally, Romney refused. In the grand scheme of things it was a minor skirmish, but the thought process behind the Obama offer shows how Chicago are playing this game at a wholly different level to Romney’s team.

Turn the clock back to Thursday morning, and run through the O-team logic.

First, the audience: it sure as hell wasn’t Matt Rhoades and the Romney campaign. The main audience wasn’t even the voters. No, the primary target was the presidential media pack.

That reliable bell-whether of the conventional press wisdom, Politico, recently ran a piece on media whining about the tone of the race. Setting aside the short memories of these delicate reporters who seem to think the swift-boating of John Kerry to be a high point in campaign history, this type of background chatter provides the prism through which all reporting is projected.

Messina’s offer was designed to demonstrate bi-partisanship: a gentlemanly proposal raising the tone and seeming to give an opportunity to draw a line under the tax return issue.

For the grumbling press pack, the act of making the offer did two things: created a new campaign event about Romney’s returns to report and re-positioned the Obama campaign on the moral high ground.

The response to the offer, whatever it was going to be, would then open up new opportunities for the Obama campaign.


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The Sunday review: Paul Ryan

19/08/2012, 07:00:56 AM

by Anthony Painter

What must it be like to be a guy who can only feel he’s succeeded in life if he becomes US President? It is difficult to look at Mitt Romney without posing this question. It is this basic fact that is making his campaign always feel edgy, nervy, gaffe-prone and slightly desperate. It was in sore need of a bit relaxation and that is what the choice of Paul Ryan constitutes – a therapeutic massage. It is a luxury that is unaffordable even for a man as well-heeled as Mitt Romney.

Scanning Mitt Romney’s biography, it is impossible not to be impressed unless one applies some perversely high standard. He was a successful – and moderate – governor of Massachusetts. His business career was, on its own terms, highly successful. He rescued the Salt Lake Olympics. Regardless of his undoubted advantages in life, this is a very impressive curriculum vitae. It earns him the right to considerable respect. For himself, it is nowhere near enough.

Mitt Romney, as is well established, is in the shadow of his father. George Romney, who was certainly seen as a possible contender for a presidential run himself, was a Rockefeller Republican. He walked out of the 1964 Republican Convention in protest at the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, who stood opposed to the Civil Rights Act.

This was the last election before the politics of race swiveled the geography of American electoral politics. Goldwater wanted to hold the south, governor Romney of Michigan, wanted to retain the moderate Republican presence in the industrial north. Goldwater Republicans won the party while being trounced in the election – in part, as a consequence of the division precipitated by Romney’s objection to Goldwater’s approach.

His father’s biography is a lot to live up to. The paradox, however, is that this enormous pressure seems to be taking its toll. In his quest to out-achieve an over-achieving father he seems to be making mistakes. The appointment of Paul Ryan as his running mate falls into this category.

Ryan is no Sarah Palin – far too bright and sophisticated a politician for that – but it is a Sarah Palin-esque decision. Seeking to “game change” more often than not backfires. The point of John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s book Game Change, however, is that when it comes to vice-presidential picks, the “game changing” option is more often in your opponent’s favour.


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Three things we learned about Romney when he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate

14/08/2012, 07:00:55 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

As the immediate buzz around Paul Ryan’s selection subsides the real implications are becoming clear. Suffice to say, they don’t paint a picture of a campaign in rude health. Here are the top three.

1 Romney is still running in the Republican primary

The Ryan pick tells us that Romney is worried about his back.

Neither the Republican elite, as embodied by the Wall Street Journal, nor the tea party base has coalesced around Romney as he would have wanted. Background chatter criticising the campaign and candidate are a constant.

Paul Ryan is the darling of the Republican elite and seen as sufficiently fiscally sound/insane (delete as appropriate) by the base. His choice will firm up these groups’ commitment to the campaign. But this support was meant to be sewn up months ago. At this stage in a presidential contest, the candidate should have swung into the centre, not headed out further into base territory.

By picking Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney is essentially still fighting the Republican primary and just permanently ceded large tracts of the centre ground to team Obama.

2 The current campaign narrative is killing Romney and he is trying to change the conversation

So far the campaign has been defined by two questions: Did Bain destroy American jobs and businesses while Romney ran the show? And, has Mitt Romney paid any taxes, ever?

The facts have been against Romney on Bain. Despite his protests that he left the company in 1999, before they really amped up their mania for outsourcing, documents filed with the financial authorities have one Mitt Romney as the CEO and chair till 2002.

On tax, Romney has signed a blank cheque for the Democrats by refusing to release past tax returns. Whatever the Dems say about Romney, he will not release the evidence to contradict it. Which naturally leads most to think he really must have something awful to hide.

Picking Ryan is a bold enough play to shift the conversation.


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Is Mitt Romney the worst ever presidential candidate from a major party?

31/07/2012, 07:00:04 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

Carl Lewis said it best about Mitt Romney’s little foreign tour: “Seriously, some Americans just shouldn’t leave the country.”

Damn right.

I can say that, I’m American. But based on Mittens’ performance in the UK, Israel and Poland, you are fine to think it too.

It’s not just Romney saying he wasn’t sure about how the London Olympics would turn out as he began his visit to er, London, or that Israel’s superior culture is the reason for their greater wealth than the Palestinians. These are individual pratfalls. To get to the heart of Romney’s true anti-genius you need to understand that it’s his instinct which is truly remarkable.

No politician in modern times has had a more unerring ability to make the wrong judgement in any given situation. Sure there have been politicians that have been on the wrong side of public opinion. Lots of guys have taken a beating in a poll.

The Dems had George McGovern in 1972 crash to a truly epic defeat and there was Barry Goldwater for the GOP in 1964 bringing tea party crazy to the peace and love decade. Walter Mondale was wiped out by Reagan in 1984 – he lost every state but his own and DC – and Bob Dole never got near to Clinton in 1996.

But in each of these defeats, the candidates were out of step with their time and the electorate. As professional politicians, they might not have been the outstanding talents of their generation, but they were competent. Most of the time, you don’t get to be the nominee unless there is some ability there.

In this country, you’ve had people like Michael Foot and William Hague. Neither would make a pantheon of great party leaders, but as statesmen they had their talents.

The thing with Mittens is that unlike this list of gallant trans-atlantic losers, he doesn’t even have the basics.

Romney gets everything, be it major or minor, wrong.


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Romney will win Republican race starting with Iowa

30/12/2011, 08:00:52 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Mitt Romney has always been the frontrunner in the Republican presidential nomination race. There are, however, Republicans with doubts about Romney-care, his religion and his corporate background. Given such concerns, I had thought Rick Perry might usurp Romney by matching his strongest card, economic credibility, and having more appeal to the religious right.

That was before I realised Perry’s oratory makes George W Bush seem Cicero-like. Such a shambles can’t possibly have more ability than Romney to reach out to business people or even evangelicals sceptical of Mormonism. We live in an unpredictable, crazy world but it is surely now predictable that Perry as a presidential candidate is too crazy.

Romney’s other rivals, however, drift inexorably to the same status. Almost as if the whole thing has been orchestrated by Romney’s campaign, with the aim of securing their man victory and everyone else a laugh. The race has been characterised by Romney being the only consistently leading presence, periodically challenged for ascendency by the latest hyped candidate, before this hype dissipates, often in a blizzard of insanity.


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