Monday, May 21, 2012

Bain is the opening salvo, not the closer

In criticizing Cory Booker's statements on MTP yesterday, I heard several people suggest that the current  focus on Bain was the heart of the Obama campaign message. I agree that's what they're focusing on now and that Booker's comments were hurtful.

But I disagree that an attack on Romney's Bain record will be the heart of the Obama campaign. First of all, since when have we seen this President focus a campaign on the short-comings of his opponent? Its an important message to get out there in the early days in order to help frame the narrative on Romney. But its certainly not what President Obama will stake his campaign on.

We've all witnessed the precision with which someone like David Plouffe plans an effective campaign. I've written recently about the fact that they have very successfully controlled the narrative with well-timed roll-outs of what they want to talk about when.

The heart of the battle between Obama and Romney on our economy is yet to come. And it will not focus on the past. It will focus on what each of them plan to do in the future. President Obama has a very strong message there - its why the campaign adopted the word "FORWARD" as a slogan.

The Obama campaign will continue talking about the same things the President has focused on for the last 2 years - the need for investment, infrastructure and education when it comes to spending and fairness/balance when it comes to taxes and regulation.

The message about Romney will be that he wants to take us back to the policies that created this mess in the first place.  Here's how Michael Tomasky put it today.
I would guess that somewhere in the big, secret Axelrod playbook on some thumb-drive in Chicago there is a calendar by which they expect to introduce all these topics. But Romney isn’t going to be defeated by Bain or even by the auto bailout. Obama’s going to have to make a strong argument about Romney’s irresponsible economic “plan,” which will cut taxes on people making more than $1 million a year by an average of more than $250,000 (per year!) and will blow the deficit sky high. 
And note those two criticisms: The first is about unfairness, the rich getting another handout, an argument that’s good for the base. The second is about the deficit and will work with swing voters. He should certainly make both critiques. Romney would bring back—and indeed intensify—Bush economics. That will work with both groups.
When it comes to the all-important message in this campaign about the economy - that's the closer.


  1. You're right, Smartypants. But I hope you understand where we're coming from. This isn't an internecine squabble that's getting limited mainstream attention. It's general election campaign season. A lot of us are personally invested -- in terms of time, effort, and money (it don't come easy!), and so Booker's seemingly self-serving or stupid (either way it's awful) undermining of a perfectly good and HONEST campaign message cuts deep. I deal with a lot of economic insecurity, so I'm scared and it's *personal* when a trusted ally pulls something like this.


    1. I was actually trying to move on from the Booker reaction with this. Hopefully we can all do that soon. I'm with you on this election being WAY too important for this kind of thing to bog us down.

    2. Maybe not ready just yet...

      I - on the other hand - would hope that you understand where I was coming from.

      I said repeatedly that I agree that what Booker said was hurtful.

      But I'm hearing precious few people actually agree with my point that calling him "traitor," "house negro," and "sellout" is not acceptable.

      I have as big of a problem with that kind of reaction as I had with what Booker said. And I think its also something that's damaging to the campaign.

  2. I think that Booker could have been damaging, but wasn't, in the end. The President used a potential problem to make his case very clear: Private equity is perfectly legal, sometimes can even be good for the economy, but it is a very different mindset than what is required for President (in the press conference a few days ago). I felt that was a very strong point made by him.

    In any case we should not be more papal than the pope. Obama said that Booker is a valuable player, so I would leave it at that.

  3. Also, booman makes a valid point about Booker being a good mayor, *because* he is close to investors money.

    Sophie Amrain