When you are running a referendum campaign you aggressively attack the record of your incumbent opponent while holding the specifics of your own political plans close to the vest. Mitt Romney and his handlers have made the tactical decision that running a referendum campaign on the president’s record is the surest path to the White House.
The problem is it’s not working.
Yesterday Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows with the specific intention of NOT making any news. While both candidates were vociferous in their criticism of the president’s policies neither was willing to get very specific about their own.
Mitt Romney, appearing for the first time on Meet the Press stated once again that he would reduce taxes and reform the tax code by eliminating loopholes. But he refused to provide specifics as to which loopholes he would cut. Paul Ryan was asked the same question on conservative friendly FOX NEWS. He too refused to be specific on the loopholes saying that he and Mr. Romney would debate those specifics with congress AFTER the election.
The only loopholes that have any substantive effect on revenues are the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and health care costs. Absent any information to the contrary we can only assume that these are the loopholes Romney/Ryan intends to close. To suggest eliminating any of these would be political suicide…thus the silence.
This unwillingness to talk specifics has been evident ever since Romney selected Ryan as his running mate.
Let’s start with domestic policy. When Romney chose Ryan, the consensus was that the Republican Party ticket was embracing the tenants of the Ryan Budget and the Ryan Plan to reform Medicare and Medicaid. But when pressed both men have run away from those proposals. Ryan says they are running on Romney’s vision for the future…not his. Romney says he has his own plans…but won’t tell us specifically what they are.
The same holds true with defense. Romney blusters about Libya, Syria, Iran and strangely enough, Russia. He blasts Obama’s foreign policy and pummels the president for proposing the drastic cuts to defense spending outlined in the sequestration agreement. But what little Romney will tell us about his own defense policy includes the exact same sanctions that the president has taken. And the leading Republican advocate for the sequestration defense cuts that Romney deplores…was Paul Ryan.
This attack and evade strategy isn’t working. Here’s the proof.
In the month of August the Obama Campaign out raised the Romney Campaign $114 million to $111 million. That is the first time in months that team Obama has surpassed Romney in the all important $$$ category.
The Romney Campaign expected the traditional post convention bump in the polls. They didn’t get it. However Obama has seen his poll numbers go up 5 points since Charlotte.
The path to 270 electoral votes has narrowed for the Romney Campaign. They have pulled their ads in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin…a sure sign that they no longer consider those states winnable.
Over the past several months this race has been considered a dead heat. But recent polls show the president’s approval rating up 5 points. He holds a five point lead over Romney among all registered voters. He now holds a 6 point lead in the all important battleground state of Ohio. No Republican has ever won the presidency without capturing Ohio.
POLITICO reports that senior staff members in the Romney Campaign have said that they have internal polling showing Governor Romney trailing the president by as many as 8 points.
This isn’t working.
If Romney intends to win the White House he has to change gears. If he has any core beliefs he needs to tell us what they are. If he has specific plans to fix the economy he needs to reveal them…all of them…no matter how tough they may be to swallow.
Romney has the time and the money to turn this election in his favor. The question is does he have the political courage.