As Mitt Romney Drifts, Speaker Boehner Stays Focused On Economic Message

Mitt Romney could learn a lot from John Boehner about staying on message.

Unlike the Speaker, Romney has struggled to define his brand and convey a singular focus on the economy and jobs. Unless that changes, Republicans fear that the White House will stay in Democratic hands for four more years.

While the Romney campaign at times has become distracted by side issues, Boehner (R-Ohio) has relentlessly stuck to an economic message for most of the GOP’s 16 months in the House majority.

Republican legislators and strategists say that such single-mindedness is the key to taking back the White House, adding that Romney should take a page from the House Speaker’s playbook.

[S]trategists and lawmakers believe Romney needs to develop a brand as an economic Mr. Fix-It singularly focused on the nation's economic health — much as Boehner has done in the House.

"The biggest reason why Boehner is a good focal point for Romney is that Team Obama has a Ph.D. in message deception," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "Boehner is someone who does not succumb to the temptation to go down those rabbit holes, even as people in his own party are causing trouble, and he doesn't lose his cool. He has a brand, and even people who don't know a lot about John Boehner know House Republicans are bent on the fiscal health of the country."

Staying on message is more difficult on a presidential campaign.

He must also better focus his attention, and, if necessary, muscle the conversation back to more favorable ground, according to GOP operatives. That tactic has been highly successful for Boehner, who remains a popular figure in his home state of Ohio, a crucial battleground in November.

"Everybody knows one thing about John Boehner, he's the Speaker of the House, and his quest is to be more fiscally conservative," O'Connell said. "He may run into some hurdles, like the payroll tax cut, but Boehner knows his job is to work to improve the economy and reduce the deficit, and Romney can look to that."

Read more from Justin Sink and Russell Brand at The Hill

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published this page in In The News 2012-05-13 14:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy