Mitt Romney may have secured the Republican nomination for President, but he has yet to convince many conservatives that he’s the candidate who will champion their values in the general election this fall.
Last week, Romney was criticized by the Wall Street Journal for his weak response to the Supreme Court decision on the Obamacare mandate. Charles Krauthammer weighed in and said that he doesn’t think Romney has been ideological enough. Bill Kristol blasted Romney on Fox News Sunday for not having a clear plan to improve the economy.
Kristol wasn’t just giving his own opinion of the Romney campaign, he was citing a Fox News Poll that showed only 27 percent believe Romney has a clear plan to improve the economy. The same poll showed that 41 percent of respondents thought that President Obama had a clear plan to fix the economy.
Even though the Fox News poll showed both Obama and Romney doing little generate any excitement for their economic plans with voters, Kristol is justified in sounding the alarm for the Romney campaign. Economic issues are supposed to be in Romney’s wheelhouse. His time in the private sector is supposed to give him a leg up over a President who never spent a day working in the private sector.
The Romney campaign has been laser focused on the economy but has little to show for it. While conservatives want a candidate who will fully engage the Obama administration in a multi-front battle that leaves no stone unturned, the Romney campaign has basically chosen not to engage in any meaningful manner on subjects like Fast-and-Furious, Obamacare, and immigration.
There is nothing wrong with Romney’s strategy to concentrate on the economy, but the polls indicate that the campaign’s messaging is not currently working. By giving only lip service to the issues that many voters are passionate about, Romney is distancing himself from his base. I think the Wall Street Journal, Krauthammer, and Kristol do a good job of illustrating the problems that the Romney campaign is experiencing. The question now is whether or not Romney can turn things around.
It’s hard to see Romney transforming into a candidate whowill be an outspoken critic of the Obama administration. For better or worse, the Mitt Romney that conservatives are grumbling about is the exact same guy we saw in the primaries. While Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were constantly weighing in on the news of the day, Romney stuck to the script and played it safe.
In no way is Romney doomed. A quick look at the electoral map indicates that the race for the White House will come down to a handful of states. However, Romney needs to do more to engage President Obama if he wants conservatives to get off of his case and get energized.
As was the case in the primary, Romney has proven to be an excellent fundraiser. The GOP fears that Obama would drown whoever won the Republican nomination have now subsided. In fact, the Obama campaign is now the one whining about the massive amounts of money Romney is raising. The Obama campaign recently sent out a fundraising email from Vice President Biden entitled, “A big problem right now,” in which he called Romney’s June fundraising haul “a massive sum.”
Romney needs to use his financial resources to aggressively attack President Obama, sooner rather than later. Romney was merciless with his Republican primary opponents, and it’s now time for him to do the same to Obama. The campaign’s latest ad provides us a glimpse of what is yet to come. The Romney campaign very effectively uses footage from the 2008 Democratic primary to counter attacks from the Obama campaign. It’s the first Romney ad that’s gotten my attention since the primary ended. In fact, my wife and I actually smiled and clapped when we saw it again.
Romney has spent the last month or so campaigning in battleground states and talking about the economy. That makes perfect sense, but if he wants Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, to rally around him, all he needs to do is ratchet up the rhetoric and show that he is willing to take the fight to Obama.
Romney proved that he was a fighter in the primary, and that’s exactly what he needs to be in the general election. People are scared. People are worried about what another term with President Obama would mean for the future country. Those people are not just conservative Republicans, but they are also independent voters. To win, Romney needs to find a way to tap into that anger and fear. He needs to be the candidate who will fight for them and restore the America that they love.
Romney can’t wait until August to fully engage Obama. He needs to start now. If he waits, not only will conservative commentators continue to nitpick every detail of his campaign, but he will allow President Obama to distract voters from the reality that is his record.
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