Friday, April 20, 2012

"He's a nice guy, but..."

We've already established that President Obama has an advantage over Mitt Romney when it comes to personal characteristics such as being likable, trustworthy, and in touch with middle class issues. We've also seen how Karl Rove, who tends to go after his opponents strong points, will try to paint Obama as partisan, petty, and untrustworthy.

But some folks are noticing what Mitt Romney is doing with this challenge. Conservative WSJ columnist James Taranto suggests he's embraced a "he's a nice guy, but..." strategy.
Monday night Romney was crisscrossing Ohio, when he spoke about the President and opened up a can of . . . friendliness: "This is a failed presidency," Romney was quoted as saying. "He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head." Though we'll never know if Romney actually believes any part of that unsult, we do know that "Nice guy" has become the candidate's favorite setup when taking a dig at his rivals.
To flesh this out, here are a few examples from Jed Lewison:

In January
We're now on track to retire a guy who's a nice guy but is in over his head. 
In March
He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head. 
And in a slightly different formulation yesterday
Even if you like Barack Obama, we can’t afford Barack Obama
The trend is clearly obvious. But I see several problems with this strategy:

  1. It makes it difficult for Romney to tap into the right wing's Obama Derangement Syndrome in casting the President as a dangerous threat (ie, Kenyan socialist). I'd suggest that heightens his problem with the "enthusiasm gap."
  2. It centers the conversation on President Obama rather than working to build up his own personal attributes. People don't really like Romney right now and this strategy does little to nothing to address that.
  3. Related to the above, as long as Romney continues his gaffes - like the latest CookieGate episode - he's given away the likability arena to President Obama and reinforced that he's mean and insensitive himself. 
I guess you can give Romney points for subtlety - something Republicans haven't typically been known for. But other than that I'd suggest that this strategy will result in one big FAIL.

1 comment:

  1. Housekeeping note: If you notice all the mess with changing fonts in this post, its not your eyes deceiving you. Blogspot changed their format for writing posts and it will likely take me a while to get used to it.

    As Obama says so often...change is hard ;-)