Newt’s No Strategy Stragey Is Playing Right In To His Rivals Hands

Bookmark and Share   As I have said over and over again, I am fully prepared to enthusiastically get behind Mitt Romney as our nominee, but when given the choice between Mitt’s meager tweaking of policies that steer things slightly more to the right of the liberal establishment, and Newt’s bold solutions that rewrite and reform policies, I am supporting Newt.  I believe that in this election, Republicans are at a crossroads.  We either commit ourselves to being like Democrats and affirm ourselves as being defenders of the status quo or we establish ourselves as the Party of reform.

In a race between Newt and Mitt, for me the issue is not so much which man is more conservative but which man is more representative of the status quo and the establishment and which one is more representative of reform and the anti-establishment sentiments that gave birth to a whole movement that was based in part on a an extraordinary anti-establishment sentiment.  Of the two, given that criteria, Newt wins hands down.  Which is why I have become so utterly disappointed in  Newt Gingrich’s campaign.

While I understand how much pride Newt takes in running an untradition campaign that does not focus on fundraising and consultant rich decision making that forces one to produce poll driven policy positions, I am incredibly frustrated by Newt’s unwillingness to accept the fact that any effective campaign requires a degree of proper planning and strategizing.  It does not necessarily have to be traditional planning and strategizing but it has to be at least a semi coordinated effort that covers some of the most basic aspects of the purpose behind any campaign.  One such purpose is that of delivering a message.

What is Newt’s message?

Well he has had quite a few and most all of them have been good.  But when asked that question, voters should not have to decide what a candidate’s message is.  They should clearly know one carefully crafted message that is clear and immediately resonates.  Unfortunately,  Newt’s message has not been clear.  For that to happen, Gingrich needs to strike a theme or a string of theme’s that easily tie together to form one message.  A smart campaign will use themes that creates a message which not only advance the candidate’s cause, but also takes the sting out of their rivals attacks.  In Newt’s case a perfect string of theme’s that create just the right message for him would consist of his being a reform minded, anti-establishment, leader.

Let’s look at each of these areas individually:

Leadership;

As Speaker of the House, Newt established himself as a true leader and America is yearning for one that can take them in the right direction.  Do they want the type of leader who can create a Contract With America that led America in to a Republican revolution that changed the way Congress does business and led to some of the most conservative reforms in generations while working with Democrats?  Or do they want the type of leadership that worked with Democrats to  create such things as RomneyCare and ObamaCare?

That is a theme not only works for Newt, it works against Mitt Romney?

Reform;

Here again, one can turn one of Romney’s weaknesses in to a Gingrich strength.

Do we we want the type of Gingrich reforms which led to the greatest reform of the last 30 years…..welfare reform, or do they want the type of Romney reforms which created Romney and Obama style government-centric healthcare?

This theme is probably the most fertile for Gingrich.

It allows him to remind people that when Newt became Speaker, he reformed the House and made many changes that forced its members to live by the same rules they create for others.  The scandal which saw members of Congress involved The House banking scandal when it was revealed that the United States House of Representatives allowed members to overdraw their House checking accounts without any penalties, prompted Newt to enforce rules that made it harder for legislators to live above the law.

But there is much more to point to when it comes to Gingrich’s proven record of reform.  Some of the most dramatic include:

All of these major changes offer Newt a wealth of issues to introduce in  to the election and provide all the evidence people need to establish just how reform driven he is and each one of them strike chords among the electorate that are just as important and topical today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow.

The Anti-Establishment Candidate;

In this anti-establishment, TEA movement environment, the status quo is out and the defenders of the status quo are the enemy.  People do not trust the establishment of either Party.  They believe that each Party has betrayed the ideologies they represent and have forgotten that the people are in charge in government and not the government which is in charge of the people. At this point in time, it seems that the people are having to answer to government, far more than government does to the people.

Meanwhile scores of establishment Governors, Senators, Congressman are coming out and endorsing Mitt Romney.  They are making it clear that the Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate………the defender of the status quo.  Meanwhile those members of the establishment are attacking Newt.  From Bob Dole on down, the establishment has soundly rejected Newt and if that is not enough to convince anti-establishment voters that Newt is one of them, than nothing is.

Add to that Newt’s willingness to stray from Party orthodoxy on occasion, and his instinctual desire to question traditional political thinking and approaches to problems and what you have is a candidate who represents anything but the status quo.

Combined together, all three of these qualities could provide Gingrich with the keys to the Republican presidential nomination.  In many cases,  despite poor messaging by Gingrich’s campaign, they have already been responsible for what success Gingrich has had.  But until and unless he can run a campaign that reinforces these themes with clear, consistent messages, the opportunity to exploit them will be lost.  And right now, Newt is losing.

In his desire to be unconventional, Newt is unwilling to be scripted.  And while there is a degree of political attractiveness to that, it also makes it impossible for Newt to stay on message and drive it home and the result is sometimes disastrous.

It is what led to his hurting himself a few weeks ago when he offended supporters of capitalism by going to far with an improper assault on Mitt Romney for his work as a venture capitalist.  It is also what led to Newt’s most recent blunder, claiming that he could not focus because the audience in the most recent debate was a distraction.

That off-the-cuff remark was so wrong on so many levels that it could very well cost him the winner-take-all, victory in Florida’s Primary.

That statement allowed Mitt Romney to undermine Newt by him seem week and it also allowed Romney to undermine Newt’s greatest strength, his superb debating skills.

Such results are bound to happen when a candidate is unwilling to stay on message and when they fail to settle upon a winning theme that they can build on.

Whatever the result in Florida, if Newt intends to remain in this contest to win, he better get his act together and admit to himself that he needs a competent organization that coordinates his ground game, and does things such as spearhead an aggressive absentee ballot operation in key states, and he must succumb to the fact that if he wants to win, he needs to focus on developing a winning strategy.

Bookmark and Share

How does Team Romney deal with Gingrich “The Comeback Kid?”

Bookmark and Share   Mitt Romney and his team have been caught blind sided by the resurgence of former Speaker Newt Gingrich in recent weeks. Romney and his team have until now, run a fairly steady professional campaign, appearing to see off all challengers from Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and last month, Herman Cain. The only challenger, who appeared likely to threaten Romney and his front runner status seriously, was Rick Perry, who had the finance and organisation to worry Romney before his debate performances tripped him up.

Former Speaker Gingrich was dismissed as a serious potential nominee last summer when political strategists and operatives left his campaign and with it a large debt. It appeared Gingrich would be forced out of the race early however; Gingrich launched a low-key strategy of maximising his resources to keep his ailing campaign going until he could make an impact during the many presidential debates. The debates have changed the electoral picture significantly, in a nation where leadership, ideas and willingness for bi-partisan co-operation seemed all but lost. Gingrich the often ridiculed professor like character, suddenly burst through the efforts of the mainstream media and began sounding like the presidential voice American’s and others have been crying out for. Gingrich not only could answer the questions substantively, he apologised where he made poor decisions in the past, offered creative and visionary solutions to many of the problems America faces and stuck to Ronald Reagan 11th Commandment of not attacking another Republican.

Romney and his team have been preparing for this presidential run for six years. Romney has been polished, smart, and professional, styled himself as the business candidate who could save the economy. He was able to look Commander in Chief like when compared to Herman Cain. He appeared practical and focused on foreign affairs when compared to Ron Paul’s stance on Iran and even when pressed into a clash by Perry, was able to remain composed and calm.

Romney and his team didn’t expect the near perfect rise of former Speaker Gingrich five weeks away from the first primary and caucus race. A Rasmussen Poll released today shows if the election were held today, Gingrich would receive 38% of the vote and Romney now a distant second on 17%.

Gingrich’s rise is due to his ability to cover a range of topics and invoke the patriotic passion and American spirit within the American people. Gingrich didn’t just rely on beating President Obama on his record like Romney, he is selling a vision, a future and able to say to voters, ”Here is what the country looks like after three year of an Obama presidency, can you afford four more?”.

Gingrich rhetorically uses specific examples, as he uncovers the Obama presidency then says, this is what I will do on jobs, education, national security & controversially, immigration. The trick Gingrich has cleverly used when selling himself, is on the notion that while he has a clear vision for America’s future, he is prepared to listen to anybody and above all, he talks about getting both political parties to work together again. He passionately believes the mantra of American togetherness is essential in rebuilding the nation and its fortunes.

Team Romney knows they cannot dismiss Gingrich’s rise like the previous pretenders. Gingrich has vast political and private sector experience; he has an exceptional mind and brilliant ability to offer three of four ideas on an issue, where others struggle to provide one. Team Romney know the stakes are higher then ever before with only five weeks to go before caucuses and faced with a challenger who poses their most substantial and credible threat to a Romney nomination victory.

How will Romney and his campaign team respond? It is already evident; they intend to launch a strong, robust and sustained attack that labels Gingrich as a Washington insider and serial flip-flopper who can’t be trusted. The big strategic question however remains; will Romney engage Gingrich through political advertisements or in the remaining debates?

It is an extremely tricky position Team Romney find themselves in. Any attack against Gingrich could rebound and hurt Romney among GOP supporters and only help to solidify Gingrich’s support more. It is likely they view the Gingrich threat as one which they’ll have to execute steadily and cautiously, by initially focussing on the Romney’s strengths personally and professionally such as his stable family and long marriage, his private sector experience on a whole, indirectly highlighting Gingrich’s Washington ties and former personal flaws.

If Gingrich is still in the lead two weeks away from Iowa, then expect a change in tactics and an all out attack campaign from Team Romney. Gingrich will not be like other challengers, if Romney’s team engage and attack him directly, Gingrich is very capable of putting it into perspective and force attention back on Romney. The late Gingrich challenge appears to have also unsettled Romney personally, he appeared annoyed and angered when questioned on the healthcare issue by an interviewer this week. Romney needs to ensure he doesn’t adopt a prickly personality which could bring on a media tsunami of close scrutiny and pressure at the very time he doesn’t need negative attention.

My own advice to Romney and his campaign team is to remove the protective shackles from and let him demonstrate some real passion and determination to win. Romney needs to convince voters why he would make a great president but more importantly, how much he wants it. Removing some of the protectionism which has surrounded Romney up to now, may in fact be the best strategy of all, to beat Gingrich. To challenge or attack Gingrich directly is a political tight rope for any GOP candidate with the potential for supporter backlash or abandonment.

Bookmark and Share
%d bloggers like this: