In perhaps a bit of irony, the hold muzak for the Romney Campaign’s blogger conference call is “I Keep Holdin’ On.”
Team Romney’s conference call, previewing the second Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, features home state senator Jim DeMint. The campaign is also launching of “Sign Up America” – an ambitious, nationwide grassroots effort to sign up 24,000 new supporters in 24 hours.
(They must be pretty confident that they’ll get it, because the last thing a campaign wants is to issue a big, bold goal in public and then not reach it.)
DeMint, describing why he endorsed Romney, mentions what he did in health care in Massachusetts. (Interesting, since some folks suggested Romney has been downplaying that legislation.) Said he was looking for a CEO. DeMint says Romney has “the strength of character, power of ideas, and the leadership to turn around a wasteful and incompetent government.” Hmm. Veiled shot at President Bush?
I asked the folks on the line for reaction to David Frum’s suggestion to Romney:
You are the man who as governor of Massachusetts introduced universal private-sector healthcare without a tax increase. Make universal private-sector healthcare your great national cause! Quit running as the social conservative you manifestly are not, and run as the superb manager and problem-solver you have proven yourself to be.
Sen. DeMint tackled it, and said (as best as my notes could transcribe), “The question does get at one of key issues that we need from a president… We’re forgetting that the president not just an idea person or honorary head. The duties are a very difficult management situation, and we need a president who understands both the technical details and the vision to see the big picture. A lot of times we don’t get that in one package. From my years in business, I would say we want a CEO who can see the big picture, connect the dots but also understands the technical side. The presidency is the most complicated leadership position in the world, we need a different type of manager.”
“For example, if you think someone like Barack Obama can be president because he has charisma and is good on the campaign trail, you’re forgetting how overwhelming this job has become. I don’t think people who have been in Washington for their entire lives have the management capability we’re looking for.”
John Hinderacker of Powerline seeks a comment on the quality of the news coverage of Romney (asking about premarital sex, Mormonism, what he hates about America, etc.) and whether Sign Up America is an effort to go around the media.
DeMint says he is concerned the media “is trying to pigeonhole Romney into a radical religious portrait. Frustrating that the media continues to focus on abortion, a few other things, his religion. I think that’s starting to get old. The web, blogs, calls like this are efforts to get around the media and let people know he’s got a broad range of attributes and that he’s not a niche candidate.”
One last note: A rather surprising statement from DeMint, in an answer to Dean Barnett’s question about Romney’s criticism of the Bush administration: “The President has a good heart, but he’s overwhelmed by the situation he’s facing.”
I’m just going to observe that Romney’s had a good run lately – lots of good reviews from the first debate, an appearance on 60 Minutes that went well, and now he’s on the cover of Time magazine. If he can’t get even a little bump in his numbers in the coming weeks, one has to wonder what it will take.