Posted by Political Quarterback · September 19, 2012 1:00 AM
Hardly a week has passed since Memorial Day without a presidential campaign visit to Florida.
In the last 30 days, no state has had more visits from presidential candidates and prominent surrogates such as former President Bill Clinton and former GOP presidential nominee and U.S. Sen. John McCain than Florida.
The attention shows how close the race in Florida is and how critical the state’s 29 electoral votes will be in deciding who will be president in 2013.
With 29 electoral votes to offer, no swing state in the nation offers a bigger reward than Florida, where every major poll since August has shown Romney and Obama within 5 percentage points of each other.
Because of the electoral math, Florida is particularly critical for Romney, because Obama is considered the favorite in other large states, including California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Without Florida, Romney would have a hard time reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
“Under no circumstances can Mitt Romney lose Florida and still win the White House,” said Ford O’Connell, a former presidential campaign adviser and Republican political consultant. “There is no way around it.”
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 18, 2012 4:54 PM
Don't injure yourself with the high-fives and chest-bumps, Democrats. The election did not end when Mother Jones magazine released tapes of Mitt Romney's speech this summer at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla.
It may have fired up the Democratic base, as Obama partisans claim. But it also fired up conservatives, who wish Romney would be this direct more often. The fact is, in the end, it's unlikely Romney's remarks changed a lot of votes.
What also must be remembered is the Obama campaign will realize soon enough this was not a knockout blow and will start looking for the next punch to throw.
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 18, 2012 3:00 PM
Mitt Romney's comments at a private fundraiser are alarming a number of Republican strategists, some of whom are worried that the fallout could deal a body blow to the GOP nominee's already struggling campaign.
“It's a kidney shot because it reveals a very cynical view,” Mark McKinnon, who served as a top strategist to former President George W. Bush, told The Hill. “He's pushing independent voters out the door.”
McKinnon said the remarks were also a “sharp stick in the eye” to President Obama's base and would likely fire them up to turn out in bigger numbers this fall.
In his comments, which were caught on video tape and posted online Monday, Romney said that 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes are “dependent on the government" and "believe they are victims.”
Ford O'Connell, another Republican strategist, said the remarks were not an "election killer" and argued there's “some truth” to them.
But he also pointed to their possible danger in a tight election. Gallup’s daily tracking poll on Tuesday showed Obama with only a one-percentage point lead.
O’Connell said that the remarks were not Romney’s finest hour and will cost Romney a week that he can't afford to lose at this point in the election.
“What makes it really sting is that it will likely dominate the news coverage for the next couple of days at a time when Team Romney desperately needs to change the narrative with only seven weeks to go in the election,” he said.
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 18, 2012 11:00 AM
This was certainly not Romney's finest hour - his points were clumsy and poorly stated. But what makes this truly sting is that it will likely dominate the news coverage for the rest of the week at a time when his campaign desperately needs to change the narrative with only seven weeks to go.
I don't see this as an election killer for Romney. There is some truth to what he was saying as it relates to the long-term economic health of America. Remember, few really know who comprises the “47 percent,” and a lot of people don’t think this applies to them.
How will this ultimately play with voters in the middle? No one knows for sure, but that has to be weighing heavily on the minds of Team Romney.
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 18, 2012 1:00 AM
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will recalibrate his message over the final weeks of the race, his campaign said Monday, putting a “new emphasis” on the “specific aspects” of his policy prescriptions for strengthening the nation’s economy and foreign policy abroad.
Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, said polls show voters want detailed proposals from both Mr. Romney and President Obama — and now is the time to start supplying them.
“We are not rolling out new policy so much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here is how we are going to get them done and here are the specifics,” Mr. Gillespie said, arguing that some voters are just starting to gauge where the candidates stand on the issues.
“Of course, time will only tell, but the Gillespie conference call likely indicates the biggest shift in campaign strategy for Team Romney since it selected Paul Ryan as Romney’s vice presidential running mate,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist. “Put another way, the Romney campaign knows it is losing and with 50 days to go, it knows it must change its strategy if they are going to win in November.”
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 17, 2012 11:00 AM
Republicans' expected financial advantage in the presidential campaign's final weeks may not pay the dividends they had once hoped for.
Throughout the spring and early-summer months, Mitt Romney bided his time as President Obama's re-election team poured its resources into a series of early advertising blitzes intended to define their opponent as a hard-hearted opportunist.
As the former Massachusetts governor worked to replenish his own coffers after a draining primary fight, his campaign pointed to evidence that Obama’s assault on Romney’s business background was not moving the needle, and GOP strategists conveyed private assurances to donors that the tide would turn once the financial playing field leveled off in the fall.
That may have been true then, but there is now general agreement on both sides that the early Obama push was effective in negatively defining Romney.
Less certain is whether the post-Labor Day fundraising sprint, when the Romney camp’s prudence in conserving its resources earlier was supposed to pay off, will reap similar rewards for the Republican.
It apparently hasn’t done so, though not because of any slide in Romney’s vaunted fundraising prowess.
“Of course it’s important to have that money advantage, but what has to be unsettling for the Romney team is that they’ve not found a message that will break through in the battleground states,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “I don’t think the money’s going to dry up. I don’t think that’s a concern right now. I think their biggest concern is how to win Ohio and Virginia.”
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 17, 2012 2:36 AM
Amid growing anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and Egypt, Ford O'Connell and Democratic strategist Ryan Clayton join Fox News' Rick Folbaum on America's News HQ to discuss President Obama's leadership abroad and the role that foreign policy could play in the 2012 Battle for the White House with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Posted by Political Quarterback · September 16, 2012 11:00 AM
Mitt Romney's attacks on President Obama's foreign policy record are intended to set up a broader indictment of Obama on the 2012 election’s central issue: the economy.
Republican political advisers say the Romney campaign hopes the criticism on foreign policy blends into the larger argument that Obama is a weak leader on domestic and foreign issues.
“The Romney guys see foreign policy as a part of a larger narrative that President Obama's leadership is lacking,” said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. "If they can tag him as leading from behind abroad, they can turn around and tag him with the same thing at home on domestic issues like the economy.”
One way both Romney and Ryan have looked to do so is by tying the unrest in the Middle East to the need for a strong military — and by extension, the need to avoid looming sequestration cuts.
“Sequestration is certainly the better way to do it,” O’Connell said. “Shoot it down to your battlegrounds. What states are most affected by sequestration? It’s North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida where you have large military installations. The foreign policy is just setting up the debate.”
Virgil Goode, an anti-immigration southerner, and Gary Johnson, a pro-marijuana southwesterner, have little in common, save one thing: They both are seeking to shake up the American presidential race as third-party candidates.
While they have no chance to win the Nov. 6 election, the tight race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney may create the right circumstances for one of them -- or both -- to pull just enough votes in a key state to sway the contest.
The greater risk is for Romney, whose chances of winning the battleground state of Virginia may diminish with Goode, a Democrat-turned-Republican and former U.S. House representative from the Old Dominion, on the ballot.
“If he’s going to hurt anybody, he’s going to hurt Romney,” said Quentin Kidd, government department chairman at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, who added that Goode’s vote will amount to a “haircut” for Romney. “Is the haircut enough to hurt Romney in the final vote count? If Virginia stays as close as it is right now, it’s possible.”
Johnson’s best chance of upending either candidate’s bid is in Colorado, where a marijuana-legalization initiative likely to draw voters sympathetic to him will be on the ballot on Nov. 6. In a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, Obama led Romney 49 percent to 46 percent in the state. When Johnson was included in the choices, he drew backing from 5 percent, with Obama’s support falling 3 points to 46 percent, and Romney’s down 2 percent.
Obama’s campaign is monitoring Johnson’s candidacy, without sounding alarm bells. They see him as taking equally from both candidates in Colorado and damaging Romney more in most states.
By 49 to 42 percent, slightly more voters believe the Obama campaign is “saying things it believes to be true” rather than “intentionally misleading people.” For Romney’s team the numbers are roughly flipped: 43 percent say they are telling the truth, 48 percent not.
The data are sobering after two weeks of party conventions featuring soaring rhetoric as well as Pinocchio-worthy one-liners. There’s little divide on the value of telling the truth: By 65 to 23 percent, more voters say it’s more important to trust what a candidate says than for it to be agreeable. (Note: The poll predated a campaign spat over an attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya).