Four years ago, the winning message was “hope and change.” This year, Romney advisers tell National Review Online, the election is about “eHarmony versus Monster.com.”
Taking a few cues from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, Boston is framing 2012 as a contest that, more than anything, is about the president’s stewardship of the economy. The pithy website comparison, sources say, has become popular among Romney’s senior team. Obama (eHarmony) may be well liked, but it’s Romney (Monster.com) who will help you get a job.
Connecting Obama to the trauma and suffering of millions of Americans who are out of work is as important as touting Romney’s leadership qualities, one insider explains. A video released by the Romney campaign today echoes this outlook. Over the course of three minutes, a handful of unemployed, blue-collar Iowans describe their economic troubles.
“I’ve been looking for a job for two years,” Deborah Ragland, of Webster City, says. “Haven’t found any. My unemployment benefits did run out, and we’re just trying to get by.”
Other featured Iowans, such as Troy Knapp, who digs graves for extra cash, and Jason Clausen, a father who struggles to support his daughter, lament Obama’s failure to lead.
“That’s the problem,” Knapp says as a slow piano tune plays. “A lot of people around here when Barack, you know, was running and all that. Everyone believed, everyone had hope. They all thought, ‘Man, this guy’s going to get something done.’”
Back in January, when Romney won the New Hampshire primary, he tested out his campaign’s current theme. “Because [Obama] has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions,” Romney told his supporters in Manchester. “That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy — and we’re not stupid.”
That line was a wink at James Carville’s take on 1992 — “It’s the economy, stupid” — but with a Romney spin. Now, as the general election heats up, Romney strategists will push related slogans, including “eHarmony versus Monster.com,” which contrasts Obama’s favorable personal rating with Romney’s pledge to encourage job creation and economic growth.