Olympics Offer Mitt Romney A Fresh Backdrop

Mitt Romney saved the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics — and he has a golden opportunity now with the London Games to promote his work as an impressive reformer and turnaround artist, according to message experts and consultants.

Romney’s feel-good narrative from his time running the Winter Olympics 10 years ago is well-known: The original organizers were embroiled in scandals and controversies until Romney was brought in and transformed the troubled games into a stunning success. Now, in the midst of his campaign against President Barack Obama, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a unique chance on this summer’s Olympic stage to burnish his reputation as a manager and Mr. Fixit.

The Olympics come in the middle of the summer campaign doldrums — a few weeks ahead of the national party conventions, when the election season shifts into high gear. While some experts say Romney has a prime opportunity to generate positive publicity from the London Games — which he and his wife, Ann, plan to attend — there’s also the possibility that the Republican hopeful’s bid to capitalize on the international competition could backfire, thanks to a dancing horse named Rafalca and a new attack on his Olympic record from the Obama camp.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who advised McCain-Palin in 2008, agreed. “If his son were on, say, the basketball team, he’d be in far better shape. Dressage isn’t something most people can wrap their head around,” he said. “When one of the goals of the opposite side is to paint Mitt Romney as out of touch, this feeds into it.”

But O’Connell said Romney can try to at least control the optics of his Olympics visit by making sure he poses for pictures with world leaders and Team USA athletes.

Read more from Mackenzie Weigner at Politico

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published this page in In The News 2012-07-16 10:30:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy