Nice-Guy Failure Or Evil Mastermind? RNC, Romney Split On Obama Messaging

Depending on which Republican you ask, President Obama is either a power-hungry politician who will spew any lie to keep his iron grip on the Oval Office, or just a nice guy who is in over his head.

In the battle to tear down a president who remains personally popular with much of the electorate, a split is emerging in the GOP effort to define the president: Mitt Romney and his campaign have cast Obama as a Machiavellian mastermind, trying to dupe the country into supporting his socialistic plot. The second tack, taken by the Republican National Committee, is to portray Obama as a bumbling failure, a likable guy who just doesn’t have the skills to live up to his promises.

Both tactics are on full display this week, putting the party apparatus and its nominee at odds.

Republican observers acknowledge the disconnect but expect one of the tactics will win out.

“[Romney’s advisers] recognize that they’re not going to be able to make up the likability gap with Obama so part of it is bringing Obama down to our level. If I can’t go up, let’s bring him down,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “I think they’re sending out a test message.”

O’Connell said Romney’s tried the RNC approach and appears to have abandoned it.

“They’ve said over and over enough that he’s a likable guy and the polls are static,” he said. “So now there’s a chance to say, ‘He’s slinging mud at us … this is not the guy of hope and change.’”

Read more from Pema Levy & Evan McMorris-Santoro

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published this page in In The News 2012-08-16 11:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy