The Corner

Character First

I thought that exchange between Romney and McCain at the beginning of last night’s debate was very telling. First, Romney kind of missed landing the punch. He should have said something like, “McCain says these jobs aren’t coming back–well, they certainly won’t if we enact the kind of de facto carbon tax the senator advocates.” But that aside, it was interesting how McCain parried Romney’s shot by going to character–he’s the truth-teller. It shows how important character and narrative is to a presidential campaign. McCain, Huckabee, and Rudy have shifted to the right in this race, but it doesn’t hurt them so much because they already have their characters/narratives set, as the war-hero straight-talker, good-guy Christian underdog, and tough-talking “America’s Mayor” respectively. Once you have those identities, you are allowed a lot of room to maneuver. Romney’s problem is that the maneuvering became his character/narrative. And once that’s the case, you can’t even put up a new sign at one of your events–the “To Do” list in New Hampshire–without people accusing you of being a flip-flopper.                                                  

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