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.

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President Obama a one term president?

According to the CNN Poll of Polls, which is an average of the most recent national surveys, 45 percent of Americans approve of how the president is handling his job and 51% disapprove, a short term boost largely attributed to the recent success in Libya. 

It is now 364 days until perhaps the most economically important presidential election in generations both nationally and internationally. The president has already raised more money than all his GOP rivals combined. Obama hopes to raise nearly $1 billion for his 2012 re-election bid. There is no doubt, President Obama has enjoyed considerable success in the war on terror and in his pledges to drawn down American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan which many, believe to be politically motivated, rather than a matter of military decision making.

How would I rate President Obama’s re-election chances? I still see it as very much a 50-50 chance for the following reasons; while people may disapprove of his administration in many areas, President Obama is still personally very popular, especially among minority groups who are expected to have a big influence on the outcome in 2012. He will have considerable funds and the support of the liberal media on his side, which, cannot be under estimated and above all, it is the ability of the GOP to unite behind a credible and strong candidate that will ultimately have the biggest influence on the outcome in 2012. Don’t under estimate President Obama’s campaigning ability and rhetorical skills, he will prove an extremely determined competitor, and if his manages to get people to remember why they liked and voted for him in 2008, it will be difficult for any GOP contender to beat him.

President Obama following his many recent travels appears determined not to concede key swing states like North Carolina, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, Colorado and New Mexico.  A year is an extremely long time in American politics, and things could change the odds in President Obama’s favour.  Economic growth could exceed expectations, and the unemployment rate could start to turn on a downward trajectory restoring some of the much shattered economic confidence in American households. My own personal belief is that the current administration seem incapable of making the fundamental policy shift in curbing spending and lowering taxes, to really deliver a boost to economic growth and this has only been further solidified by Democratic support for the Occupy Wall Street protests of recent weeks, and the attacks on the entrepreneurial spirit which has made America a great nation for the last century.

James Carville the famous and respected Democratic strategist coined the phrase, “It the Economy stupid” when former President Clinton was running against former President Bush Snr. amazingly, President Bush Snr. enjoyed an astounding approval rating of 89% just over a year before the election and went on to lose. In this coming election the phrase for the GOP should be, “It’s Jobs stupid.” A record number of Americans, 49.1 million are poor, based on a new census measure that for the first time takes into account rising medical costs and other expenses. External debt now stands as % of GDP at an incredible 101.1% and unemployment is at 9%, higher then even the biggest sceptic believed it would be following the stimulus plan. Unfortunately, President Obama’s economic team have only created uncertainty surrounding healthcare costs, tax and regulation over the last three years, these three factors alone are the biggest reasons why job growth in American has come to a standstill practically.

A Washington Post/ ABC polling today showed only 38% of American’s approved of President Obama’s handling of the economy against a disapproval rating of 61%. The reality is, if people took out President Obama’s personal appeal and focussed on his job performance and implemented policies during the first two years of his administration, the outcome of next years election would be a foregone conclusion with a GOP landslide. However, this election is going to be unlike any other. Personally, I believe substantively only Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich really have the experience, credentials and ability to beat President Obama in a head to head with the exception of Ron Paul who may benefit from a failure by the international community to resolve the debt crisis. It is important that the GOP nominee sells the message that they are the person capable of restoring America’s economic prospects and focus on facts.

The strategy to an Obama victory seems set to be played out in the Midwest states where President Obama still enjoys popular support and on portraying an “Under Dog” tag. The Democratic Party machine will unleash the fiercest and most personal attack campaign American electioneering history has witnessed. The president has already tried to use class divide and emotional scare tactics to frighten voters into supporting him, the one fact which cannot escape President Obama is his record.

Don’t believe the “Under Dog” status, President Obama will be the best supported and financed “Under Dog” in political history. The choice for American’s like previous elections, “Are you better now then you were four years ago come November 6, 2012”.

The eventual GOP nominee will need to focus on President Obama’s record, which is partly why, I believe Speaker Gingrich may be the best bet for the GOP nomination due to his factual, precise and eloquent communication skills. It promises to be the mother of all contests that is for sure.

Senate Defeats Obama’s Jobs Bill

President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan failed to clear the Senate on Tuesday evening, despite the best pleas and weeks of campaigning by President Obama. The bill received a simple majority of 51 votes but fell short of the necessary 60 to end debate. Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana were the only Democrats to vote against the bill. Both of them are facing tough re-election campaigns next year.

The president’s Jobs Bill also has little chance of clearing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to “do the right thing” and “put country ahead of party,” and pass the $447 billion jobs bill earlier in the day. He said Republican opponents will have a hard time explaining to voters why they rejected it.

With the American economy stagnated and unemployment currently at 9.1 percent, Mr. Obama said the act would put thousands of teachers, police and construction workers back on the job. He said taxes for workers and small businesses would be cut. “This is a moment of truth,” Obama told a union crowd in Pittsburgh. “The time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now.”

President Obama’s Bill has been much criticised in recent weeks and Senate Leader Harry Reid even had to change the proposal on how to pay for the bill in the last week, in an attempt to secure support from his own Democratic Party for the bill. Reid after inserting a provision to pay for the bill by raising income tax rates, by 5.6 percent on people who earn more than a $1 million a year, accused the GOP of blocking the legislation both to deny Obama a victory and to protect millionaires at the expense of the rest of the country.

Republicans fundamentally opposed the measure over its spending to stimulate the economy and its tax rise on millionaires and many small business owners.

Reacting to the vote, Mr Obama said: “Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight.” In a statement after the vote, Obama said his bill contains proposals Republicans have supported in the past but that the GOP had obstructed the Senate from moving forward on the jobs bill. Obama says he will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to see that individual proposals in the bill gain a vote as soon as possible. Obama says that each vote will lead to lawmakers having to explain their positions.

He challenged lawmakers to “explain to their constituents why they’re against common-sense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs”.

The House and Senate are expected to use the remainder of the week to approve U.S. trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, one of the few areas of agreement between Republicans and the administration on boosting the economy.

The White House and Democratic leaders must now resort to Plan B: The Democrats will need to  look at ways of breaking the jobs bill into pieces that would be easier to pass, such as payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits and construction spending.

Both parties will no doubt use the outcome as a political tool ahead of next year’s presidential election, as Democrats have accused Republicans of failing to approve a measure that would cut high unemployment. In return, Republicans have said Democrats are trying to increase taxes, which would kill jobs.

One thing is clear, President Obama is continuing to use the bill as a vehicle for making Republicans look bad. Many of the components of the bill were rejected in 2009, by the then Democratic controlled Congress, so it is politicking of the highest order to say the Republicans are to blame. I am certain some component parts of the bill will pass once broken up.

The challenges of kick starting the United States economy in the next year are not economic, they remain political, so perhaps Standard & Poor were justified to downgrade the U.S. credit limit over sixty days ago.

The impasse continues leaving the economy at the mercy of the markets and speculators yet again.

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