Friday, July 27, 2012

Election Week in Review (July 27, 2012)

The campaigns re-booted on Monday morning after a weekend hiatus created by the tragedy in Colorado, with Mitt Romney eagerly heading off to Europe for a "foreign policy credentials-burnishing" trip abroad.  While such a trip was off message from the one-note "it's the economy, stupid" approach Romney has taken to date, it was a good way to change the conversation from taxes and Bain Capital.

Clearly Romney chose to use the trip as a conversation changer rather than cram in a Vice Presidential selection.  Our readers thinks Senator Rob Portman of Ohio will ultimately get the prize.  I do too – unless Romney starts falling behind, in which case he might throw his version of a "long bomb" and take Senator Marco Rubio of Florida instead.

But the trip did not exactly begin the way Romney would have scripted it – then again, that was his own foot in his own mouth.  It didn't take long for Mr. Salt Lake City Olympics to take the British Olympic organizers to task for "disconcerting" snafus in their security planning.  He was promptly rebuked by the British press and Prime Minister David Cameron.  I had to laugh at the tabloids' quick nicknames:  the "Party Pooper" (Daily Mail), "Nowhere Man" (Times of London) and "Mitt the Twit" (The Sun).  Ouch.  I was listening to POTUS on satellite radio this afternoon and a very proper British journalist referred to Romney as a "man of awkwardness."  And Cameron, Mitt's ideological soul mate, by and large, was clearly miffed at the criticism.  Mitt walked it back and they made nice in their meeting, but this was not a promising beginning for the Mittster.
Romney's team has been fighting back, making much ado about the "You didn't build that" flap.  They took a section of an Obama speech and parlayed it into a blistering attack on Obama's alleged lack of understanding of how entrepreneurship works.  Obama was trying to make the point that anyone who has built a business did not do it alone – they had help from teachers, mentors, friends, our capitalist system and yes, even the government.  It was a good thought but an awful construct.  Here is what Obama said in full: 
"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Obama was referring to the "roads and bridges" that helped the entrepreneur succeed, not to the entrepreneur him or herself.  He certainly should have glorified the role of the entrepreneur more fully.  But the "you didn't build that" snippet has taken on a life of its own through Romney ads and dutiful media coverage, striking a chord among those who indeed believe Obama is anti-business, or doesn't understand how the economy works, or is a flat-out socialist.  It is surely hurting Obama.
Back to more fact-based stuff, the New York Times put together a terrific chart on the state of campaign fundraising, which I replicate below:


To Date
To Date
On Hand

Priorities USA SuperPac
Democratic National Committee
Obama Campaign

Restore Our Future SuperPAC
Republican National Committee
Romney Campaign

This chart is not quite exhaustive – there are other SuperPacs out there, largely backing Romney.  But the basic picture is that Obama has raised more, and spent more to date, but Romney has more cash on hand.  Essentially, Obama spending is "front-loaded" in an effort to "define" Romney – particularly in swing states – before he can define himself.

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