I voted for Mitt Romney yesterday, knowing he would lose badly because he ran a horrible campaign. As I lamented to my sons before the election that Romney was going to be slaughtered in an election President Obama virtually dropped in his lap with his inept leadership, they both commented, “How can you vote for somebody who runs such a stupid campaign?”
Unfortunately, I did not have a good answer, except that my vote was a protest against Obama’s weak leadership.
I have given quite a bit of thought to how Romney could have won the election against Obama, a lousy president yet capable candidate with a very smart group of people guiding his moves.
Mitt Romney was badly wounded by the Republican primary. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, two guys who were minor league candidates, ambushed him from the right flank. To blunt their barrage, Romney scurried to the right, which Obama then skillfully used to define Romney to the public. Romney was not nimble or clever enough to run back to the center after the primary season. I see Romney as an ambitious guy, driven to become President, thus surpassing his father who ran for the office but failed to get close.
What seemingly happened to Mitt was that he apparently was convinced by the characters like Gingrich that the country would accept right wing social policy, when Romney’s best chance was to run as a smart business guy – a technocrat – who could be the country’s capable CEO and forge compromises with Congress that Obama couldn’t.
Romney had the misfortune of hearing his idiotic remark about the 47% pop up, yet he still should have won against 8% unemployment, and Obama’s floundering on the economy.
This is what I would have advised Mitt, if he had asked.
1) You cannot win if you are the “old white man’s candidate.” There are just not enough of those folks who vote to get you to 270 electoral votes. Even if you concede African-Americans to Barack, you still need Latinos, women, and young people. So how do you get them and still hold your base? It’s not so hard. COME OUT for the Dream Act. This would have one-upped Obama and identified Romney as someone who was sympathetic to young undocumented immigrants who were adding value to the country. Such a stance would have cost him virtually nothing on the Right, but could have staunched the 70-30 pasting the GOP took from Latinos. George Bush got 41% of Hispanic voters in 2000. The Latino community has a conservative family oriented bent. The Democrats owned it in this election but they did not have to.
2) The gender gap could have been bridged if Romney had chosen a strong woman for Vice President, and I am not talking about Sarah Palin. In one of his infamous “binders” he could have found a woman like, well, Ann Romney who could have given his candidacy a softer, family friendly tone.
3) Romney ran a poll driven paint by the numbers campaign. He did not take risks or get out of his comfort zone. He did not talk to young people. He was irrelevant. To combat this Mitt should have advocated for the “decriminalization of marijuana.” The country is moving in this direction and he could have justified it to his base as a way to support law enforcement in America and reduce the profits of the drug cartels. He would have outflanked Obama with younger people and gained respect as a courageous and creative politician.
A Republican candidate who could not beat an unsuccessful and often arrogant or diffident Barack Obama probably did not deserve to become our President.
Question: Did Mitt Romney cost the Republicans the presidency in 2012?
Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler of Today’s Machining World, and Owner and Chief Space-Filler of Graff-Pinkert & Co.