Ted Kennedy Haunts Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share    Politico recently unearthed an unaired television commercial from the 1994 Senate race that pitted Mitt Romney against Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts (see the ad below this post). The ad offers a glimpse of just how devastating an effect good opposition research can be in the hands of a well run campaign. The campaign ad claims that upon taking over Bain Capital, Romney laid off thousands and saved the firm only by taking federal bailout money.

At the time the Kennedy campaign deemed it unnecessary to air the commercial because of their strong lead in the polls. But according to Politico a former Kennedy advisor now decided to reveal the spot.  And therein lies what is most interesting here. Why would a Democrat release a damaging ad against Mitt Romney 27 years later? Why was it not released by this Kennedy advisor in 2008 when Romney made his first run for the presidency?

In the world of politics, one of the most accurate axioms is “the friend of my enemy is my friend“. That being said, not only was Romney not as big a threat in ’08 as he is now, the Kennedy ally who disclosed this attack ad, could have been prompted to do so by one of the Republicans challenging Romney for the presidential nomination. But at the same time, any Ted Kennedy advisor is likely to be a devout liberal who hardly wants to see President Obama defeated in 2012. So the two sides, one of Romney’s Republican opponents, and the unnamed Kennedy ally, probably joined forces.

If so, the opposition research team of the challenger who prompted the revelation of this attack piece, without getting blamed for it, was brilliant.

If  it was not prompted by one of Romney’s Republican opponents, than it becomes obvious that Democrats are quite threatened by the prospect of a Romney presidential campaign.

Either way, it is quite obvious that Romney’s opponents on both sides of the aisle do fear that the public perception of Romney having a superior economic credibility is a strength that could marginalize all of them when it comes time to vote, including in the general election.

As for the attack itself, there is a possible disconnect. It is more than likely that the layoffs and federal bailout spoken of in the ad were set in motion prior to Romney’s taking the helm at Bain. Nevertheless, Romney will have to spend time explaining away the charges and controlling the damage that the charges create on his strongest suit…..….jobs and the economy. In addition to his need for perpetual damage control on RomneyCare, even though none of the current declared Republican presidential candidates have been able to unseat Mitt as the frontrunner, the combination of these to issues could allow a yet unannounced candidate to easily run the ball right through the middle.

The only thing really on Romney’s side right now is time.

The decision to reveal this powerful ad now was not really good strategy. To release an ad as potent as this one, this early in race and in the middle of the lazy days of summer when most people are not focused on the presidential election, gives Romney more time to do the damage control that is required.

But can he do enough of it and how long can he continue to defend ground without gaining ground?

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