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Romney's Missed Opportunities Romney's Missed Opportunities

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Romney's Missed Opportunities

July 27, 2012

Mitt Romney is running a cautious presidential campaign, so fearful of making political blunders that he hasn't offered much more beyond broad conservative outlines of how he would govern as president.  So it comes as a surprise that he let his guard down in London at the outset of his overseas trip, critiquing the British preparation for the Olympics in a nationally-televised interview, and then accidentally letting slip that he met with the head of MI6.  For that effort, he was slammed mercilessly in the British tabloids and was tweaked by Prime Minister Cameron, and more loudly rebuked by the (Conservative) mayor of London in front of thousands at a rally for the Olympics.  Romney's trip wasn't getting much attention in the British press; he's made it above the fold for all the wrong reasons.

No, a few blunders across the pond won't change the trajectory of the presidential campaign.  But for a candidate who still is largely undefined to many voters, the trip was designed to make him look presidential.  Get a few well-timed photo-ops with foreign leaders, say nothing controversial, and voters could very well see Romney living in the White House in a year.  But Thursday's blunders prevented him from scoring a controversy-free photo op with one of our closest allies.  

Call it another missed opportunity for a campaign that's gotten most of the big-picture strategy right, but too often sweats the small stuff.  Romney hesitated to tout his personal biography early on in the campaign for fear it would draw attention away from Obama's handling of the economy, but it allowed the president to define his record at Bain first, and as negatively as possible. He's hesitated to offer much red-meat rhetoric, fearing he'd alienate independents, but now he's (belatedly) finding that an aggressively ideological contrast with Obama on economic worldview is scoring him major political points - and playing to his personal strengths.

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