Why Romney needs to talk about himself

I mentioned in a brief comment yesterday that Mitt Romney has to do more than attack President Obama’s record if he’s to win this election. He has to convince voters he’s a credible alternative they can trust with the job.

I planned to expound on that thought in a future blog post, but Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics beat me to the punch.

Trende begins his piece — worth reading in its entirety — by noting some key findings of a recent Pew poll:

  1. Just 8 percent of registered voters say they need to know more about Obama.
  2. More than three times as many, 28 percent, say they need to know more about Romney.

Specifically, Trende writes, among the voters most likely to still be making up their minds, independents,

… 42 percent say they want to know more about his record as governor, 37 percent want to know more about his record as CEO of Bain Capital, and 35 percent want to know more about his tax returns. Just 21 percent of independents want to know more about his wealth, 19 percent want to know more about his family and upbringing, and 16 percent want to know more about his religious beliefs.”

This, Trende explains, is indicative of the kind of election which is a referendum on the incumbent. In such contests, he says, voters ask themselves two questions: “First, do I want the president to be re-elected? Second, is the challenger so unacceptable that I simply can’t bring myself to vote for him?”

Almost all voters have made up their minds about Obama, so question 2 is clearly in play at this point. And yet, the Romney campaign is spending almost its time and money attacking Obama rather than explaining who Romney is — leaving it to the Obama campaign to define Romney on its own. Negatively, of course.

Trende theorizes that Obama’s negative ads may not have moved the needle in opinion polls yet because undecided voters are waiting to hear what Romney has to say about himself.

Right or wrong about that last point — I’m not really sure — Trende is spot-on correct about the rest in my view. Pointing out that the economy is still stagnant is fine, but it’s inadequate. Romney has to explain who he is, what he wants to do, and how the former proves he can accomplish the latter.

There will be opportunities to do that: The Republican Party’s convention late next month will (or should) be a time for the GOP to burnish Romney’s image and tell his story. The question is whether he can wait until Labor Day to begin defining himself. I tend to think not.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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385 comments Add your comment

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

July 25th, 2012
12:52 pm

He likes to bully people. Not much else you need to know.

It’s “the meek shall inherit the earth”, not the a-wipe shall inherit the earth.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 25th, 2012
12:53 pm

If you want to put Amerika to sleep, talk about yourself.

If you want them to stand on the sofa and snort like pigs, talk about the other guy.

We are a WWF awaiting the start of the next Idol episode.

How do you think we wound up with obozo?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 25th, 2012
12:54 pm

We are a WWF (nation) awaiting the start of the next Idol episode.

geez

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 25th, 2012
12:56 pm

aahhh, Finn found a new word. And he’s playin with it. How many posts will he incorporate it into today?

Drinking game, anybody?

Steve

July 25th, 2012
12:56 pm

A good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.

Lao Tsu

Streetracer

July 25th, 2012
1:01 pm

As I understand it, Romney can only use funds donated for the primaries at this point. He has had to spend so much defending aginst negative ads that he really can’t do much positive right now. Wait until he is the official nominee and see what he has to say then.

curious

July 25th, 2012
1:08 pm

Romney loves this country so much, he didn’t go to France handing out leaflets no one wanted, instill in his Sons the same love when we had and still have men and women fighting and dying in Afghanistan, or not seeking out tax havens (legal, I guess, but an indication of who comes first) .

Romney will be smart NOT to talk about himself.

Kyle Wingfield

July 25th, 2012
1:09 pm

Streetracer: I know he didn’t run many positive ads in the primary, but nothing says he can’t do that.

Bruno

July 25th, 2012
1:10 pm

“Bruno

July 25th, 2012
11:35 am

Kyle–As our blog leader, could you possibly develop a column along those lines?? Just my uninformed opinion, but I don’t believe that Romney has run an effective campaign so far. Maybe some of the Lefties could chime in to tell us how Romney might possibly improve his message.”

Man–I didn’t know that i had that kind of pull around here. Only took Kyle about 1 hr to write his column after I requested it. ;-)

Kyle Wingfield

July 25th, 2012
1:13 pm

LOL Bruno. I checked on the comment thread while I was working on that and felt certain you’d be happy with this one!

gadem

July 25th, 2012
1:16 pm

He can talk about his tax havens….or his years of business experience (he can include those years that he was getting paid but wasn’t there though) To clear things up, we would like to see his tax returns so that we know exactly when he stopped getting paid a salary from Bain.

Streetracer

July 25th, 2012
1:16 pm

Kyle @ 1:09

I was talking more about the general campaign than the primaries. Attacks on Bain etc.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

July 25th, 2012
1:16 pm

Mormon (cultist)
Pro-choice
Blueprint creator for ACA
Acts officially as Sole owner, operator, and CEO of a company that he totally denies working for
Bully
Likes his trees all the right height
Cheesy grits aficionado
….. more to come

MadMax

July 25th, 2012
1:18 pm

Personally, I like the Obama ads; reminds me that Romney has been successful and the guy introducing the ads comes off as something between a pimp and a politician. “I’m Barack Obama and I approve of this sleaze!”

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 25th, 2012
1:18 pm

At this point, Romney should become a mummy or make like the Sphinx, put a sock in it, stifle hisself.

obozo has like 50 more radical kook fringe groups that he needs to hit up for money, his only remaining sources in fact, and he’s bound to say at least 45 more idiotic things that the RNC can flame him with.

Let’s put Romney in the box for now.

md

July 25th, 2012
1:20 pm

“He likes to bully people. Not much else you need to know.”

Have something to back that up or is it just bully speech?

Shine

July 25th, 2012
1:21 pm

He sure does need to talk. We want to see his tax records. We want to know why he hides money offshore untaxed and thinks he and his cronies dont need to pay more taxes to help pay for the U.S. military that they use as bodyguards around the globe. Pretty good think these offshore traitors have….everybody gets stuck with paying for their protection except themsleves.

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:21 pm

The attack ads against willard are working.

What is willard hiding in his tax forms?

White collar crime? Drug money laundering?

Our country can’t take another gop disaster like w or nixon.

Four more years!

Country first!

Class of '98

July 25th, 2012
1:24 pm

Don’t worry, Kyle. Nobody reads Rear Clear Polictics. You shouldn’t have mentioned it.

tiredofIT

July 25th, 2012
1:25 pm

Star of Romney ‘My Hands Didn’t Build This’ Ad Received Millions in Government Loans and Contracts

Gilchrist Metal, “received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority ‘to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment’…” In addition, in 2011, Gilchrist Metal “received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008…”

The businessman, Jack Gilchrist, also acknowledged that in the 1980s the company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000, and matching funds from the federally-funded New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

From: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/star-of-romney-my-hands-didnt-build-this-ad-received-millions-in-government-loans-and-contracts/

MadMax

July 25th, 2012
1:25 pm

Oh look, it’s getalife – just cruising around all day spouting his canned lines into the blogs just waiting for his savior to send him another gov’t check and for B’man to come back.

hsn

July 25th, 2012
1:25 pm

He can’t because he will have to address why he is not releasing at least, 5 years of his tax returns..

Bain will be the bane of his campaign !

md

July 25th, 2012
1:27 pm

“Almost all voters have made up their minds about Obama, so question 2 is clearly in play at this point.”

And from what I hear from pollsters, this tends to explain how the poll numbers really work….or at least have worked in the past.

The statement is correct that folks have made up their minds about Obama and the current 40%+ in favor may very well be all that he gets. Past polls indicate that if one was in favor they would stay in favor and those not sure tend to vote for the other guy. Which is what happened with Reagan, the undecided went with the other guy in a landslide.

maybe history really does repeat itself………

MadMax

July 25th, 2012
1:29 pm

Tiredofit – but unlike Solyndra, he created taxpaying jobs.

Streetracer

July 25th, 2012
1:29 pm

Steve @ 12:56

Never was much interested in Eastern philosophy. To much of it can be interputed anyway the reader wants. I prefer Plato, Kant, etc. One can argue about specifics of meaning, but not the general direction.

But, from my father who graduated high school in the middle of the Kansas dust bowl, this might be apt. ” Ain’t a horse can”t be rode, and ain’t a rider can’t be throwed”. Think about all the impliccations of that as it relates to your quote.

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:30 pm

mad,

“UK economy shrinks dramatically; longest double-dip recession in more than 50 years…”drudgey

If we listened to Kyle and his failed party’s austerity argument, we would be like England.

You cons are never right about anything and want another collapse.

Think country first not party first.

We can’t have another collapse.

Bruno

July 25th, 2012
1:31 pm

I checked on the comment thread while I was working on that and felt certain you’d be happy with this one!

Thanks, Kyle!!

Of course, I’m part of the group of voters who have already made up their minds. Though Romney’s record as Gov of Massachusetts wasn’t stellar, Obama’s record as President of the US has been nothing short of a disaster. Hate to be forced to pick between the lesser of two evils like that, but that’s the reality this election cycle.

md

July 25th, 2012
1:32 pm

“We want to know why he hides money offshore untaxed and thinks he and his cronies dont need to pay more taxes to help pay for the U.S. military that they use as bodyguards around the globe.”

And this type nonsense is why the country is so screwed up. Obama leads a department called the IRS……think if there was something truly sinister going on the IRS wouldn’t be aware of it?

And think a White House that has a tendency to leak National Security information would keep it quite?

md

July 25th, 2012
1:35 pm

“If we listened to Kyle and his failed party’s austerity argument, we would be like England.”

Vs being like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland??

Austerity is the RESULT of spending too much silly……..

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:35 pm

“Obama’s record as President of the US has been nothing short of a disaster.”

Bruno,

Prove this.

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:37 pm

md,

You don’t cut after a collapse silly.

Our President won this argument so we have growth.

Your party lost 9 million jobs silly.

@@

July 25th, 2012
1:38 pm

35 percent want to know more about his tax returns. Just 21 percent of independents want to know more about his wealth,

A bit of a contradiction ^^^ there.

===================================

I was reading an article at The Daily Beast. While Obama may see hisself as exceptional, many Americans believe that it’s America that’s exceptional. Based on past comments, Obama thinks otherwise.

President Obama has a complicated history with American exceptionalism. Back in 2009, he created some controversy when he sent mixed signals on the subject. On the one hand, he appeared to belittle the idea, saying, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” But in those same remarks, he also said, “I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.”

Since that time, Obama has clearly stated that he believes in American exceptionalism. Still, Romney—who wrote a book titled, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness—has tried to use the issue to score political points against Obama. “Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney said in March. “And I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.” Soon after, Obama fired back: “It’s worth noting,” he said, “that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.”

Touchy, ain’t he?

The Gallup poll from 2010 asked respondents whether they thought that Obama believed America was the greatest country in the world. That number was 86 percent for Ronald Reagan, 77 percent for Bill Clinton, and 74 percent for George W. Bush. Obama’s score? Just 58 percent.

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:39 pm

I think willard’s refusal to show the people his papers was a fatal error of his campaign.

A self inflicted defeat.

Auntie Christ

July 25th, 2012
1:40 pm

This should help capture the blue collar vote, it will establish romney’s connection to the working man:

“Dressage cost Romney $77,000 in 2010, money that was spent on the feeding and care of Ann Romney’s co-owned horse, Rafalca, which will compete in the summer Olympics. The Romneys were able to declare the expenses as a tax-deductible loss.
This amount is considerably more than what the average American household earned in 2010—$49,445, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

I wonder how many jobs this has created?

md

July 25th, 2012
1:46 pm

“You don’t cut after a collapse silly.

Our President won this argument so we have growth.”

Hate to break the news, but we still have 16 trillion in debt, losing 1.5 trillion yearly, have benn downraded once with basically no action taken, and are on the brink of a possible recession.

Spending has consequences…….especially if it doesn’t work.

Again, see Greece or Spain. Think they have any control over the interest rates that are currently killing them??

Our rates go up and Katie bar the door as all hell will break lose………

md

July 25th, 2012
1:50 pm

Pretty sad when folks start posting talking points related to medical expenses and then taking a victory lap.

If I ever have someone in my family get MS and need to spend biggy bucks to treat it any way I can, I sure hope those that complain about it end up in the same position…………

getalife

July 25th, 2012
1:52 pm

md,

Lost 9 million jobs vs steady job growth.

No contest.

Country first.

Four more years.

md

July 25th, 2012
1:53 pm

Funny, some attack medical expenses but many are strangely quiet on this part of the aca:

“The “Special Needs Kids Tax” takes effect Jan. 1, 2011: This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.”

Auntie Christ

July 25th, 2012
1:53 pm

I’m waiting for Obama’s ad to come out showing romney speaking to the American Olympians at the start of the 2002 games that they didn’t get there alone, their communities built the venues, their coaches made sacrifices, their athletic associations guided them, etc etc.

Yet when Obama speaks of entrepreneurs having the same sort of support from tax payer funded schools, infrastructure, and tax incentives, it is somehow insulting to the business people of America.

Lewis Black did this segment on Jon Stewart last night, and as he said, according to romney, building your business is a solitary endeavor, yet running a 4 minute mile, it takes a village Unfortunately the tea people and other Obama haters just don’t understand the definition of hypocrisy.

Bruno

July 25th, 2012
1:57 pm

Bruno,

Prove this.

Look no further than ObamaCare and the massive debt we now have with basically nothing to show for it. Add in the extreme personal/political divide we are now experiencing, and I think the “disaster” label is accurate.

curious

July 25th, 2012
1:59 pm

About the only thing Romney can accuse Obama of being guilty of, that Romney himself is not quilty of is:

Obama is only half white.

md

July 25th, 2012
2:00 pm

Job growth? Merely spinning our wheels………..

“June’s employment report from the BLS said the economy added 80,000 jobs (+84,000 in private sectors, -4,000 in government jobs) in June. The unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.2% from May, while the U-6 under-employment rate rose 0.1% from May to 14.9% (in 2007, the rate was 8%). The jobless rate has stuck above 8% for over three years since February 2009, the longest such stretch on record since 1948.

Even though the total employed jumped by 128,000, the jobless rate remained the same, primarily because the labor force increased by a larger 189,000. That is not a good sign when the labor force is growing faster than job growth, as it suggests the unemployment rate could hit higher if the trend continues. Out of the total unemployed, 41.9% or 5.4 million is trapped in the long-term unemployed category (jobless for 27 weeks and over), while growth in private payrolls was the weakest in 10 months.”

Auntie Christ

July 25th, 2012
2:02 pm

md @ 150 pm: If I ever have someone in my family get MS and need to spend biggy bucks to treat it any way I can, I sure hope those that complain about it end up in the same position…

The deduction was taken as a “business loss” not a medical expense. Get your facts before you criticize. But since you claim dressage is good therapy for MS, please join me in urging congress to allow MS sufferers to obtain dressage horses and all their accouterments under the ACA. While we’re at it I think my expenses for dog food, vet, and pet grooming should be deductible since without my dog, I would likely be very lonely and clinically depressed.

@@

July 25th, 2012
2:02 pm

Auntie:

Uncle Sam Will Help Buy YOU an Alpaca, then, YOU TOO can receive a tax break.

md

July 25th, 2012
2:05 pm

“Yet when Obama speaks of entrepreneurs having the same sort of support from tax payer funded schools, infrastructure, and tax incentives, it is somehow insulting to the business people of America.”

Yet the irony of that statement is that a business had to be created to fund all those items mentioned……

Auntie Christ

July 25th, 2012
2:05 pm

md @ 200 pm: Job growth? Merely spinning our wheels

Better than going full speed reverse when bush gave us losses of 800K per month. I’ll take job GROWTH any day of any sort, over losing 800K/Mo

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

July 25th, 2012
2:07 pm

PRINCETON, NJ — Democrats are significantly less likely now (39%) than they were in the summers of 2004 and 2008 to say they are “more enthusiastic about voting than usual” in the coming presidential election. Republicans are more enthusiastic now than in 2008, and the same as in 2004.

I’m surprised they still admit to being dummycrats. Some people have no shame! Buncha little Julias they are.

@@

July 25th, 2012
2:08 pm

It really is time to reform our tax code. As long as the giveaways exist there will be rich and poor alike to take advantage of them.

Slick Rick

July 25th, 2012
2:08 pm

It’s hard to explain who and what you are when who and what you are is nothing more than a pile of disingenuousness nothingness and when your “core convictions” are whatever you think they need to be to get yourself elected for the election in question.

Not to mention the difficulty of saying who and what you are today when tomorrow you’ll just etch-a-sketch it in favor of something and someone different.

Catch 22? You betcha.

md

July 25th, 2012
2:09 pm

“The deduction was taken as a “business loss” not a medical expense”

Incorrect…..it is a business deduction for the care of a medical expense. yes, please do get your facts correct.