Whatever Your Preferred Metaphor, Romney’s Campaign is Imploding

Buzzards circling overhead…

 Sharks smelling blood in the water…

Whatever metaphor you use to describe it, the Romney campaign is searching for answers and playing the blame game.

Last night, based on unnamed sources within the campaign, Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei posted a long analysis of “how Mitt Romney stumbled,” and named the designated the scapegoat for Romney’s failures, top campaign strategist and ad man, Stuart Stevens.  Stevens has been picked to shoulder the blame for Romney’s lackluster convention speech and his failure to even mention the ongoing war in Afghanistan or the American servicepeople who are fighting and dying far from home. According to Allen and Vandehei, Stevens:

knew his candidate’s convention speech needed a memorable mix of loft and grace if he was going to bound out of Tampa with an authentic chance to win the presidency. So Stevens, bypassing the speechwriting staff at the campaign’s Boston headquarters, assigned the sensitive task of drafting it to Peter Wehner, a veteran of the last three Republican White Houses and one of the party’s smarter wordsmiths.

Stevens junked the entire thing, setting off a chaotic, eight-day scramble that would produce an hour of prime-time problems for Romney, including Clint Eastwood’s meandering monologue to an empty chair.
Romney’s convention stumbles have provoked weeks of public griping and internal sniping about not only Romney but also his mercurial campaign muse, Stevens. Viewed warily by conservatives, known for his impulsiveness and described by a colleague as a “tortured artist,” Stevens has become the leading staff scapegoat for a campaign that suddenly is behind in a race that had been expected to stay neck and neck through Nov. 6.

Designated scapegoat Stuart Stevens

Allen and Vandehei write that, although campaign insiders are throwing Stevens to the wolves, so to speak, Mitt Romney himself deserves a great deal of the blame too. Stevens is his guy, and Romney is likely to stick with him. But back to the convention speech snafu:

As the Tampa convention drew near, Wehner, now a “senior adviser” and blogger for the campaign, was laboring under an unusual constraint for the author of a high-stakes political speech. He was not invited to spend time with Romney, making it impossible to channel him fluently.
Nevertheless, Wehner came up with a draft he found pleasing, including the memorable line: “The incumbent president is trying to lower the expectations of our nation to the sorry level of his own achievement. He only wins if you settle.” It also included a reference to Afghanistan, which was jettisoned with the rest of his work.

Instead, eight days before the convention, at a time when a campaign usually would be done drafting and focused instead on practicing such a high-stakes speech, Stevens frantically contacted John McConnell and Matthew Scully, a speechwriting duo that had worked in George W. Bush’s campaign and White House. Stevens told them they would have to start from scratch on a new acceptance speech. Not only would they have only a few days to write it, but Romney would have little time to practice it.

The speech McConnell and Scully came up with was also largely scrapped, and Stevens and Romney “cobbled together” the final unimpressive acceptance speech that failed to even mention the war in Afghanistan or the Americans fighting and dying overseas.

The entire Politico article is well worth reading, since the Romney campaign frequently uses Politico to disseminate their desired campaign narratives, one of which is that Stevens is not a committed conservative, but an ivy-league educated, “creative,” “eclectic,” “artist” type who isn’t particularly ideological and maybe just doesn’t understand the Republican base. And besides, he’s disorganized and undisciplined. But Allen and Vandehei say that “Romney associates” are “baffled” that Romney himself hasn’t gotten a grip on the campaign, since he was such a successful corporate CEO.

This morning both Politico and Buzzfeed posted more insider revelations about the Romney campaign’s latest strategies. Politico’s quotes Stuart Stevens on the supposed new emphasis on “status quo vs. change.”

Stevens said the economy is likely to remain “the dominant focus” of the campaign. But ads and speeches will focus on a wider array of issues, including foreign policy, the threat from China, debt and the tone in Washington.

Stevens said the big, unifying question will be: “Can we do better on every front?”

On Monday, Romney unveiled a new ad, “The Romney Plan,” that punches back at Obama’s consistent emphasis on growing the economy for the middle class, and emphasizes what the Republican would do.

“My plan is to help the middle class,” Romney says in the ad. “Trade has to work for America. That means crack down on cheaters like China. It means open up new markets.”

A second Romney ad out Monday, “Failing American Families,” is harsher, with a male narrator saying: “Barack Obama: More spending. More debt. Failing American families.”

One of the new policies Romney will go with is an appeal to Latino voters on increasing “legal immigration.” Stevens also argues that the chaos in the middle east and the Fed’s decision to roll out QE3 demonstrate President Obama’s lack of leadership. He believes that Romney’s middle east policies will be more appealing to voters in the long run.

At Buzzfeed, McKay Coppins characterizes the new Romney strategy as a move to the far right, with “more God, less economy.”

Mitt Romney’s campaign has concluded that the 2012 election will not be decided by elusive, much-targeted undecided voters — but by the motivated partisans of the Republican base.
This shifting campaign calculus has produced a split in Romney’s message. His talk show interviews and big ad buys continue to offer a straightforward economic focus aimed at traditional undecided voters. But out stumping day to day is a candidate who wants to talk about patriotism and God, and who is increasingly looking to connect with the right’s intense, personal dislike for President Barack Obama.

Three Romney advisers told BuzzFeed the campaign’s top priority now is to rally conservative Republicans, in hopes that they’ll show up on Election Day, and drag their less politically-engaged friends with them. The earliest, ambiguous signal of this turn toward the party’s right was the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate, a top Romney aide said.

“This is going to be a base election, and we need them to come out to vote,” the aide said, explaining the pick.

The Buzzfeed report sounds a lot more reality-based to me than Politico’s. Romney will undoubtedly step up the race-baiting, not-so-subtly encourage the birthers, and hope he can tear Obama down with barrages of negative ads funding by his billionaire superpac donors. No doubt it’s going to get really ugly as we approach the debates and then move on to election day, especially if they follow the advice of Focus on the Family’s Bryan Fischer to turn Paul Ryan loose to fire up the base on social issues:

Fischer said he believed Romney would be leading national polls by double digits at this point if he had followed Paul Ryan’s lead and offered more detailed conservative positions on the budget and social issues.

“The biggest mistake is they put a bag over Paul Ryan’s head,” he said. Fischer said he was “deeply disturbed” that Ryan didn’t mention the campaign’s opposition to gay marriage in his speech to the summit on Friday.

“I got to believe that there was some kind of directive from the top of the campaign: We don’t want you to deal with this issue,” he said.

Will any of this help Romney recover from his lousy convention and his disastrous foreign policy missteps? Somehow, I doubt it, but only time will tell.

Here’s one of the new Romney ads.

It’s just more of the same, as far as I can see. Where are the specifics of what Romney would do differently? Here’s the other ad–I guess this supposedly provides specifics (but it doesn’t).

Meanwhile the vultures continue to circle. The New York Daily News is out with a piece by Mike Lupica, calling the Romney campaign a “band of clowns” and “one of the worst campaigns of recent memory.”

There was a lot of talk about Libya last week, because Mitt Romney didn’t know when to shut up about dead Americans, including Chris Stevens, a good man who was our ambassador there.

Somehow, in a terrible moment like that, Romney was boneheaded enough to hand political advantage over to the other side, despite the fact that the President went ahead with a scheduled campaign stop in Las Vegas the next day, as if delaying his appearance by an hour was a suitable mourning period.

But it is not just Libya. It is everything that has happened lately as Romney and the amateurs around him continue to run one of the worst campaigns of recent memory, even against one of the worst economies any sitting President has ever tried to defend.

The people around Romney don’t just look like amateurs, they look like clowns sometimes. Romney was never going to be a great candidate; he doesn’t have it in him, he too often comes across like some stiff poster boy for all the one-percenters who want him elected. But you thought he would do better than this, with the whole thing sitting right there for him, because of this President’s record on the economy and on jobs. Only Mitt Romney has taken an election that should have been his to win and made it something for Barack Obama to lose.

And so on. The media sharks smell blood, and I doubt if they’re going to back off.   Soon the rats will be deserting the sinking ship.  So many metaphors, so little time.

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56 Comments on “Whatever Your Preferred Metaphor, Romney’s Campaign is Imploding”

  1. RalphB says:

    All that crap about Romney getting specific about his plans in politico and other stenographic services is junk. They’re going to try for a base election like 2010. Buzzfeed seems to have the real strategy covered.

    “On the outside, here’s what going to happen: we’re going to nuke Barack Obama into radioactive sludge in the swing states with 3000-4000 points of TV in September,” Wilson said. “Crossroads and Restore [two Republican SuperPACs] will do the same. It’s going to be hitting in concert with the terrible economic news, and it’ll strike a chord.”

  2. dakinikat says:

    This so reminds me of every time I’ve worked for a CEO of a large company where I’ve had to be their “brains” by being the analyst behind their Senior VIP of Finance/Accounting. I can think of 3 – 4 times this has happened in my corporate career. Usually, the marketing VP is on the power drug equivalent of crystal meth and the CEO is making decisions based on his drug highs. Then, I have to come in and show how that strategy will bankrupt the company eminently. Then, the commercial paper dries up for the company or whatever immediately once my analysis starts leaking out. This even happened when I was like 23 and fresh out of getting my MS. CEOs of large companies are stupid. Their only function is to please stockholders, the board of directors, give pretty speeches, show up for United Way functions and Golf Tournaments and make very very bad decisions. They only get their jobs because of who they know or who they are this day and age. None of them could work the actually core business function. They have one or two favorite butt boys and that breeds contempt among the other sr. vps. This is typical corporate CEO chaos.

    • RalphB says:

      Most CEOs I’ve seen may as well be pro golfers who could never win a tournament.

    • NW Luna says:

      CEOs are “successful” only by greedly claiming the results of many, many others’ (low-paid) hard work.

      • dakinikat says:

        Yup. The one qualification I would say for most CEOs of big firms–not owner business originator CEOS–is the ability to demonstrate sociopathic behavior.while coming from the correct school or social circle or uterus

  3. RalphB says:

    This illustrates the hazards of desperately scrambling for someone to parrot your meme. :-)

    rawstory: ‘I Can’t See Your Face Right Now’: ‘Fox & Friends’ Pranked In Wild, Nonsensical Interview

    The gang at “Fox & Friends” thought it had landed an interview with a young, disillusioned, out-of-work former Obama supporter who had shifted his allegiance to Mitt Romney. Instead, the hosts found themselves on the receiving end of a practical joke.

  4. HT says:

    It’s tremendously disturbing to see what politics have become. Romney is not running on his merits and policies – he’s running against something – in this case a person who has two races in his dna. It truly is sad to see what the world is degenerating into.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    More Stuart Stevens-bashing at the NYT.

    In interviews on Sunday night, others close to the campaign said Mr. Stevens’s domineering style had at times rankled his colleagues. Campaign aides had also begun grumbling about Mr. Stevens’s role in debate practice sessions; they said he frequently interrupted and offered rambling monologues.

    LOL

    Other aides expressed concern that the reports of internal discord would erroneously send the signal of a campaign in trouble when, in fact, Mr. Romney remains close to President Obama in polls. But the Politico report and separate interviews suggested that Republicans were concerned that Mr. Romney had yet to provide voters with a clear rationale for why choosing him would be an improvement over Mr. Obama.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Romney never had the hearts and minds of the GoP voters, including Fox News, until he manage to seize the nomination from the hands of others more ignorant than he appeared to be.

    His strength – if any – was from the GOP establishment at large and those whose hatred for Obama bordered on lunacy. Also those Hillary “supporters” stil fighting the wars of 2008 determined to “bring another message” to the DNC who left them at the curb in the process.

    But now there is little left to support or defend. He has no foreign policy background or solutions the public is interested in hearing. Judging by the neocons who form that team, most of the public has no interest in another mideast war whose actions are questionable from the interests of the US.

    He refuses to be specific on what it will take to offer solutions by way of job creation. He is suggesting adopting the Ryan Budget that promises to devastate the average working man and woman. His declaration of ridding the nation of Obamacare is also sending frightening singles up the backs of those who have come to see that there is some measure of benefit to be had as long as UHC is off the table for now.

    His attempts to appear “strong” are laughable as it just does not work in his behalf. Trying to sound “tough” only makes him appear stupid in face of the issues that are out of the control of the government when so many factions are breaking out in areas that we cannot override.

    The stimulus did work. Killing bin Laden was a good thing. The GOP can “resist” these successes all they want but the average voter sees through the rhetoric. Romney is not a likable person which is one of his major flaws. Out of touch, out of sync, out of ideas does not win over the people you need to win.

    It is not simply the campaign itself that is lacking it is also the candidate who has shown himself to be less than stellar or informed when it comes to what ails us.

    Lies have a way of catching up with you when all you have to offer is the bashing of the other guy through those means but have come up short on what your own policies will be as a replacement.

    I think the public come November will be able to reject both the man and the agenda he carries with him just to avoid the disaster that will come with his win.

    If the MA polls are any indication, they show Elizabeth Warren ahead by 5 points which kind of tells me the public is sick to death of the GOP at this juncture. Scott Brown is experiencing a little of that pushback as of Sept 17th, only 50 days out.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Jon Ward at HuffPo: Mitt Romney Nicks Leadership Cred With Unforced Errors

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/16/mitt-romney-leadership_n_1888782.html

  8. NW Luna says:

    He was not invited to spend time with Romney, making it impossible to channel him fluently.

    LOL! How can you “fluently” channel someone who speaks in ungrammatical inconsistencies?

  9. pdgrey says:

    I’m bringing this upstairs, my take on Romney’s “Cunning Plan.”

  10. ANonOMouse says:

    Bay Buchanan was on MSNBC this morning attempting to quell the talk of dissent within the Romney camp and the ongoing implosion. When asked about the counsel being given to Romney by his advisors, Bay said that Mitt “Doesn’t want yes people, he wants people who tell him exactly what HE thinks”. He wants people who tell him what HE thinks????? And that’s exactly the problem with the Romney campaign. :-)

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s something that should ramp up the panic in the Romney camp:

    New Pew poll shows that Obama Wins And Romney Loses Public Perception With Responses To Embassy Attacks

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/poll-romney-gets-low-marks-on-response-to-embassy-attacks-obama-gets-high-marks/

  12. pdgrey says:

    Here is another conspiracy theory I’ve never heard of.

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/agenda-21-republican-platform-12755348

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wrote something about that awhile back. It’s very odd. It’s based on some UN resolution from ages ago that has never been acted on.

    • RalphB says:

      George Soros wants to steal all our golf! That seems to be the most common part or the one that Ted Cruz pushed in the TX Senate primary. I kid you not ;-)

    • pdgrey says:

      OMG, the first comment is great.
      If it’s a legitimate rape, I’m sure Todd Akin’s system has ways of shutting the whole thing down

      • bostonboomer says:

        These silly rape analogies remind me of that old cartoon from the funny papers that used periodically post entries called “Unclear on the concept.”

    • dakinikat says:

      This appears to be the new republican version of the Godwin … everything is a holocaust and rape but the actual events themselves.

      • dakinikat says:

        remember, rape is an “alternative form of conception” and the holocaust is not the one Hitler’s NAZIs did … it’s having the audacity to use birth control.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    HuffPo has the leaked Romney video on their front page with a huge scare headline! It’s one where Romney is outraged that some Americans think they are “entitled to health care, food, and housing.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-video_n_1829455.html

    • bostonboomer says:

      HuffPo has confirmed the legitimacy of the videos and the source has given the full, unedited verson to David Corn!

      The person who uploaded a series of potentially inflammatory videos from the fundraiser has claimed authorship of them in an email exchange with The Huffington Post. The source said he or she wishes to remain anonymous for professional reasons and to avoid a lawsuit. The videos, which have created a buzz on the Internet, were blurred and at times blacked out to obscure the location of the filming, the source said.

      “I have obviously degraded the quality to attempt to camo the location,” said the clandestine filmmaker. The original, which has not been posted in full, is very high quality, the source said.

      The source has given the full video to Mother Jones’ David Corn, the source said.

    • dakinikat says:

      Yes, perhaps since they are all living “large”, he’d like to trade places with one of them for, say, a week? Bet he’d notice that step-up in life style!!

    • pdgrey says:

      All i can say is Yepeeeee!

  14. RalphB says:

    I’m glad to see a real evaluation of this video instead of some BS pushed by the wingnuts!

    NYT: Video Shows Libyans Retrieving Envoy’s Body

    CAIRO — An amateur video that surfaced Sunday appears to show a crowd removing the motionless body of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens from a window of the American mission in Benghazi, Libya, after it was attacked last week by Islamist militants, adding new details to reports that Mr. Stevens had died of smoke inhalation while locked in a safe room.
    [...]
    Labeled the work of Fahd al-Bakkosh, the video centers on what appears to be the same tall, narrow window that witnesses have described as Mr. Stevens’s last exit. The witnesses said residents drawn to the scene had forced open the window and found Mr. Stevens behind a locked iron gate, pulled him out and taken him to the hospital. In the video, none say anything that shows ill will.

    “I swear, he’s dead,” one Libyan says, peering in.

    “Bring him out, man! Bring him out,” another says.

    “The man is alive. Move out of the way,” others shout. “Just bring him out, man.”

    “Move, move, he is still alive!”

    “Alive, Alive! God is great,” the crowd erupts, while someone calls to bring Mr. Stevens to a car.

    Mr. Stevens was taken to a hospital, where a doctor tried to revive him, but said he was all but dead on arrival.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s so sad.

      • RalphB says:

        It’s very sad. I’m just glad the NYT played it straight instead of going for some Islamophobic angle. It makes it harder for the wingnuts to make those people out to be a rampaging mob.

      • dakinikat says:

        Believe me … I’ve been zapping self labelled puma, hillary ‘supporters’ that seem to be irrational islamophobes from facebook for over a week now … it won’t phase these haters. Just zapped one that sent out a youtube that says Obama supports congressional candidate that seeks imposing Sharia Law …

        I’ll quote one of our readers from above … this kind of stupid should be fatal

  15. RalphB says:

    If Max Rice’s prank could get enough attention, it would be a very good thing for the voters in this country.

    ‘Fox & Friends’ Prankster Says His Appearance Highlights ‘A Greater Issue’

    Rice said he hopes that his interview shines a light on the mainstream media’s occasional disregard for substance and facts.

    “I don’t care if there’s any negative press about me. I think there’s a greater issue,” Rice said. “Our media should be a tool to educate the masses, instead of getting ratings and selling Cheetos. This is proof.”

  16. dakinikat says:

    BB, Those videos you posted yesterday are really getting twitter play today since they confirmed their authenticity through HuffPo … twitter is atwit with it …

    Josh Barro ‏@jbarro
    Worst part of video: Mitt says 47 percent of Americans believe that they are victims and can’t be convinced to take personal responsibility.

    Jonathan Chait ‏@jonathanchait

    Specifically this: “My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility”

    David Waldman ‏@KagroX

    Poor people caused the housing crash! Poor people caused the credit collapse! Poor people steal all the money!

    Ryan Grim ‏@ryangrim

    Romney: I’ll never convince Obama voters to take responsibility for their lives http://wapo.st/S476QJ

  17. pdgrey says:

    This is another reason to understand Joe Scarborough. And Mica with the $1000.00, hair color just sits there.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/joe-scarborough-muslims-hate-us_n_1890007.html?utm_hp_ref=media

  18. Fannie says:

    Scarborough and Woodard are WRONG………………and Mika just sits there…………………..is that what it cost to color her hair? I’m looking ahead, and hoping they are gone from tv in the very near future.

  19. There are no signs his authority is getting curtailed: Sources inside the campaign said he just prevailed in an internal battle over the next rounds of ads, customized for each swing state.