[credit provider=”Jessica Rinaldi via Wikimedia Commons”]
Today, Politico reports that the Obama re-election campaign has reviewed all of the available data, war-gamed various campaign stratagems and decided that the only way the president can win re-election is by destroying his Republican opponent.”Obama Plan: Destroy Romney” is the headline. The story was leaked to Politico by the president’s re-election campaign advisors. On purpose.
Are things really that bad? Is the only path to President Obama’s re-election a scorched-earth, relentlessly negative campaign that positions the president as less horrible than his GOP rival?
The short answer is: yes.
By virtually every available measurement, President Obama is on track to be turned out of office next year. By margins of nearly 3-1, voters believe that the country is on the “wrong track.” The president’s approval rating is in the low forties. The president’s economic performance rating is even worse. Consumer confidence is abysmal. Disposable income is meager. We could go on and on.
“Hope and change” isn’t going to get the job done. The only available route is to position Obama as the least bad alternative. That requires a full-scale assault on the GOP nominee. The White House is signaling that they expect the GOP nominee to be Romney and that they will do whatever it takes to take him down.
What might this campaign look like? It will be a reprise of the Senator Edward Kennedy re-election campaign of 1994. You can view one of the Kennedy campaign ads here (this one didn’t run, but it’s almost exactly like the ones that did).
The Kennedy campaign basically took Romney’s record as a high-powered management consultant and private equity kingpin and turned it into a nightmare of workers losing their jobs, their healthcare and their pensions. Trailing after the September primary, Kennedy rose steadily in the polls on the back of the advertising onslaught and was re-elected with 58% of the vote.
The Obama campaign will spice the Kennedy assault on Romney’s record as a private equity executive with a parallel effort to portray Romney as “weird.” Substitute “weird” with “Mormon” and you get the general idea.
It’s a long way from “hope and change.”
It’s probably the only way Obama wins re-election.