Following Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, most pundits hailed James Carville as a genius for setting up the infamous War Room as a rapid response against Republican attacks. Twenty years later, I'm starting to see signs that the Obama 2012 campaign is upping the ante and taking things to the next level. They're not simply responding to Republican attacks, they're controlling the narrative and putting the Romney campaign on the defensive.
It all started back when Romney made the colossal mistake of joining the Republican's "war on women" (before he started etch-a-sketching himself from the primaries) by joining in the fray with waffling support of Senator Blunt's bill to allow employers to deny contraception coverage and affirmed his goal about ending Planned Parenthood.
As all that was swirling, the Obama campaign rolled out their efforts to highlight the Buffett Rule right around "tax day." Romney was forced to react and chose to call it a gimmick, even though as we saw, Ronald Reagan had supported just such a measure.
And before they had a chance to catch their breath on that one, President Obama started in with the HUGE rallies on campuses talking about the need to extend the low interest rates on college loans. Even though it contradicted what he'd said earlier, Romney was forced to agree.
Both of these issues (Buffett Rule and interest on college loans) were accompanied by Congressional votes where Republican legislators were also forced to take a position.
Then came Obama's "coolness" highlighted by his appearances on Jimmy Fallon's show and the White House Correspondent's dinner. Romney was forced to react by giving up on the "likability" factor.
And then, to coincide with the anniversary of the raid against Osama bin Laden, last night we saw the President's surprise trip to Afghanistan, complete with the signing of an agreement about ending that war and a speech to the nation during prime time. While Romney is left to deliver pizzas to a NY fire station with more waffling on whether or not he would have gone after the mastermind of 9/11.
All of this requires planning and forethought on the part of the President and his team. You begin to wonder whether or not they've mapped out the next 6 months of this election in the same way. If so, I think we'll continue to see the Romney campaign flat-footed trying to constantly figure out how to respond.
I'd say its time to put away that old trope about Democrats always being the victim of superior messaging/campaigning by Republicans. Once again, the team of Obama/Plouffe are showing us how its done!