The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Campaign Continues, After Hours


Over on the home page, I have an article on how the Romney campaign is counterpunching much faster in the early 2012 campaign than John McCain’s campaign did in the general election of 2008.

Two points to whet your appetite; first, a suggestion that there were points left unscored in the 2008 campaign, and the Obama campaign knew it:

The other side of the coin was that John McCain didn’t want to win the race by using any tactics he deemed “dirty campaigning.” John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s account of the 2008 race, Game Change, details how McCain was emphatic that Obama’s mentor, Jeremiah Wright, was off-limits, at the precise moment that the Obama camp was testing its own vulnerabilities in focus groups: “Dozens of Obama-funded faux negative ads against Obama were produced and tested: about Wright, [Bill] Ayers, Muslimism, the flag pin — the works. And some were devastatingly effective.”

And then a point about how the news cycle no longer stops in the early evening . . .

“Twitter has really quickened the news cycle,” says Ryan Williams, who worked for Romney in 2008 and is a spokesman for the current campaign. “You have to respond faster, and if you don’t respond faster, you’re going to lose. The Rosen thing broke at 9 o’clock at night on a Wednesday. This is a time when in previous cycles, you couldn’t move a story. It was after the evening news, after most of the papers had gone to print or were about to go to print, and you couldn’t get anything out there. Now with Twitter and everything, it’s completely different.”

The Romney campaign is approaching the coming weeks with a strategy of “bracketing” — doing events before and after key Obama campaign stops, making Obama’s message for that event implausible, refuted, and silly by the time he delivers his remarks. Before an Obama stop, Romney will do interviews with local radio stations. Last week Romney went to Charlotte, N.C., to give a “pre-buttal” to Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in September. Romney was supposed to speak on a rooftop with a view of the convention site, the Bank of America football stadium; bad weather forced his team indoors, and Romney spoke with the city skyline behind him.

Romney’s campaign bus has rolled around Ohio, stopping outside Obama and Biden events and bringing supporters to protest. In Lorain, Ohio, last week, Romney went to a closed factory that Obama had visited during the 2008 campaign. It’s still closed. “Had the president’s economic plans worked, it would have been open by now,” Romney said at the event. “But it is still empty. And it underscores the failure of this president’s policies with regards to getting the economy going again.” It was an echo of a similar speech by Romney at Allentown Metal Works, which shut its doors after an Obama visit in 2009. (With Solyndra, Ener1, Beacon Power, and Amonix, expect to see a lot of shuttered-factory visits in the months ahead.)

Tags: Barack Obama , John McCain , Mitt Romney


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