Thursday, August 28, 2008


I've had big doubts about Barack Obama's decision to do the big stadium speech for a while now, and today there's a Politico story quoting a couple of Democrats expressing similar doubts. I'll be honest -- after the Berlin speech, I don't see how it helps him to go big, and I see how it can really hurt him. I would have liked him to change his mind. But at this point I just don't know how it will go over.

(Two differences between Berlin and Denver, though, both of which work in Obama's favor: Denver is in America, and much of America will actually hear the Denver speech rather than just seeing clips of the spectacle.)

But in any case, the McCain campaign is squandering a chance to focus on shooting spitballs at Obama for hubris by announcing the VP choice tomorrow. Yeah, the campaign can do both at once, but that weakens both the anti-Obama and pro-running-mate messages. (Look at how the "houses" message got lost for the Democrats when Biden's pick was announced.)

And hey, if the Obama speech looks hubristic, then maybe we want the Republicans to hijack the news cycle.

I'm inclined to believe rumors that say Mitt Romney is the pick. And if that's the case, I'm rather pleased.

We know the Obama campaign is ready:

Should John McCain tap Mitt Romney to be his running mate, Democrats already have what they believe to be a potent line of attack.

They'll say that the Republican ticket has a dozen homes between them, a symbolic indicator of McCain's and Romney's combined wealth, which Barack Obama's campaign will try to exploit to further in its message that the GOP is out of touch with the struggles of average Americans.

Combined, the 12 properties owned by the McCains and Romney tally up at approximately $35 million....

Yup -- the "houses" attack gets a fresh start, and the total goes to double digits. As David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, says,

"They're doubling down on out-of-touch."

But there's more. Let me take you back to something Tom Schaller wrote last summer:

...Does the GOP really want to nominate Romney? ... GOPers should take a gander at head-to-head match-ups between the three "tier 1" Republican and Democratic nominees. If you look at the six match-ups on that involve either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani -- who, respectively, were the first and then second GOP frontrunners, at least until recently -- the Arizona senator and former NYC mayor run more or less even with [Clinton, Obama, and Edwards]. Ah, but notice that when Romney is paired with either Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards, his numbers are much worse; for the moment, Democratic landslide worse. Maybe it's an issue of lack of name identification, but if that were true, wouldn't that mean Fred Thompson ought to be trailing by similar lengths?...

Some of that (and some of Romney's struggle in the primaries) was the result of evangelical mistrust of Mormons, but the rest -- if my hunch is right -- is something the political pros simply haven't grasped: that people just don't like Mitt Romney. Have you seen his polling numbers from the winter, when he was in the thick of the race?

* USA Today/Gallup Poll. Feb. 8-10, 2008: Favorable 34%, Unfavorable 46%
* ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Jan. 9-12, 2008: Favorable 34%, Unfavorable 46%
* CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Jan. 9-10, 2008: Favorable 31%, Unfavorable 39%

Romney exudes slickness and phoniness. He's a used-car salseman. Want to run with him, John? Be my guest.

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