The tactics of both the Obama and Romney campaigns are quickly becoming evident even with over five months to November 6. Over the next couple of posts I will examine the tactics that the Obama and Romney campaigns are going to be utilizing. Today, I am focusing on the president's likely messaging.
- Paint Romney as an out of touch corporate raider
- Emphasize that things have gotten better since the "Republican created" meltdown
- Foreign policy success (no more Osama)
- Move to left on social issues to attract younger and urban voters
- Use surrogates for the harshest attacks, so Obama can remain "presidential"
Much of this messaging is intended to create doubts among swing voters and also to solidify support from core Democratic groups. Tying Romney to bad corporate practices many see as creating the 2008 financial meltdown will continue to be a theme of the Obama campaign.
But populism has to be crafted carefully. The strategy may be backfiring at least in some respects. While too early to see the overall impact, statements by prominent Democrats (notably Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, NJ) essentially criticizing overt attacks on capital investing has been picked up by the media forcing the Obama campaign to clarify some of its earlier statements.
President Obama has to be careful not to alienate Wall Street. Democrats rely on financial institutions as much as Republicans for campaign contributions. Also, populism has limited appeal to suburban Independents. Making Romney the poster-child of capitalism run-amok has to be believable. Too much Occupy Wall Street rhetoric will result in losing Independents.
Another part of the president's campaign will focus on the conditions that he inherited in 2008. The message here is that the recovery is underway (albeit slowly) and that we need to continue on this path. Republicans will return the nation to the policies that got us into this mess. Expect President Bush to be (unwillingly) utilized a great deal of Obama's fall advertising - maybe a picture of Bush morphing into Romney.
Expect highlighting of foreign policy successes, especially the killing of Bin Ladin. This strikes a chord and Obama can use the "lack of experience" argument against Romney. In fact, campaign surrogates have already suggested that Romney would not have ordered last year's raid.
Finally, President Obama's embrace of same-sex marriage suggests that part of the campaign will be focused on socially liberal young and urban voters. I expect that there will be further moves on this front including the possibility of federal recognition being advocated. The calculus is that he has already lost the votes of social conservatives with the gamble being that this move will not adversely affect the perspectives of African-American voters - many of whom are socially conservative.
Mitt Romney wants this campaign to be a referendum on Obama's presidency, the performance of the economy, deficits, old fashioned values, and (ironically!) ObamaCare. More on this shortly.