For some reason, I’ve never been a fan of opinion columnists trying to tell candidates how they ought to run their campaigns. Writing that “if Candidate A wants to get elected, (s)he needs to do X and Y and stop doing Z” is like a sportswriter trying to tell Chipper Jones how to hit a curveball.
However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t find political strategy interesting. Take, for example, this statement by Geoff Garin, lead pollster with the pro-Obama SuperPAC Priorities USA Action, explaining why the group is running negative ads in swing states focusing on Mitt Romney’s years at Bain Capital:
“First, it goes to the heart of his primary rationale for being better on the economy. Second, once people have learned that Romney was willing to fire workers and terminate health and pension benefits while taking tens of millions out of companies, they are much more ready to understand that Romney would indeed cut Social Security and Medicare to give tax breaks to rich people like himself. This provides a foundation to build the core policy critique against Romney.”
“We’ve firmly established that Romney’s tenure was not about creating jobs. This sets the stage for what we’ll be doing later on.”
You can argue all day about whether Garin’s critique of Romney is accurate — in fact, we’ll be arguing about that very thing from now until November. But viewed purely in terms of campaign strategy, the two-tiered approach linking what Romney did at Bain to what he would do as president strikes me as pretty shrewd.
– Jay Bookman