Mitt Romney is running a cautious presidential campaign. So it comes as a surprise that Romney 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 the effort, he was slammed mercilessly in the British tabloids, tweaked by Prime Minister Cameron, and more loudly rebuked by the (Conservative) mayor of London.
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. 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, but now he’s (belatedly) finding that an aggressive contrast with Obama on economic worldview is scoring him political points.
And for a candidate who should be in his comfort zone – his political career was made thanks to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics – his lack of message led to the politically tone-deaf comments he made to Brian Williams.
Romney’s blunders aren’t going to make or break the election, but they very well could prevent him from taking advantage of golden opportunities to define the race to his advantage.
-- Josh Kraushaar
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Boehner: 'Troubling' GDP Growth Shows Now Not Time to Raise Taxes
[Los Angeles Times, 7/27/12] Republicans in Congress jumped on the GDP numbers than came out on Friday, using it as an example of why it is a poor time to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the report a “troubling sign for the future of our economy,” and asked the president to work with Republicans to reform the tax code.
Obama Holds Slim Re-Election Edge in Slow GDP Growth Modeled
[Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/27/12] Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University, said the 1.5 percent growth in the U.S. economy between April and June gives President Obama a slight edge in his reelection bid. He predicted the president would receive 50.5 percent of the popular vote come November, according to his election model based on 16 previous elections.
The Cook Report: Romney’s Anchor
[National Journal, 7/26/12] Although the economy has gotten demonstrably worse since the start of 2012, Romney has made considerably less progress than one might have guessed. Voters’ personal feelings toward the presumptive GOP nominee could be what’s holding Romney back; the campaign has yet to run a biographical ad portraying him as the kind of person people might want to vote for.
Obama Announces New Military Aid for Israel Ahead of Romney Visit
[Associated Press, 7/27/12] Obama said Friday he is releasing an additional $70 million in military aid for Israel, a previously announced move that appeared timed to upstage Republican rival Romney's trip to Israel this weekend.
Romney’s Olympics Gaffe Overshadows London Visit
[Telegraph, 7/27/12] From Prime Minister David Cameron to London Mayor Boris Johnson, Great Britain is not happy with Romney. After Romney suggested that London was not ready for the Olympic Games, The Telegraph wrote that Romney was: “Elevating his tendency for gaffes to the international stage.”
Romney: ‘It Looks Like London’s Ready’
[National Journal, 7/27/12] Romney woke up Friday morning to gleeful headlines from a London press none too pleased with him. But the candidate tried to move past a story that has come to define his international tour thus far, expressing confidence in London’s readiness to host the Olympic Games.
Are Democrats Selling Themselves Short on Taxes?
[National Jounal, 7/27/12] Democrats aren't telling the full truth about their proposal to extend the Bush tax. Democratic talking points are actually selling their own party short, in a way that drives some party strategists crazy. National Journal’s Reid Wilson weighs in.
Obama Campaign Releases Ad For Olympic Opening Ceremonies
[National Journal, 7/27/12] Team Obama released a new spot that will run to coincide with the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics on Friday night, setting a more positive tone with a speech by the president interspersed with images of middle class people going to work in farm fields and offices. The ad does not mention Romney.
Romney Abroad: Candidate Obama Did it Better in 2008
[National Journal, 7/26/12] National Journal’s Caren Bohan writes that Romney’s clumsy start to his foreign tour is shaping up as a stark contrast to candidate Obama’s tour of the Middle East and Europe in July 2008. The then-senator’s projected confidence and deft avoidance of missteps on the international stage helped to deflect efforts to depict him as naïve leader and lacking in credibility.
GOP Outspending Obama Across the Map
[National Journal, 7/27/12] Democrats have long feared that outside groups would swamp Obama’s campaign, and those fears now appear prescient: Romney and his conservative allies are outspending Obama in every swing state except Pennsylvania this week, dropping nearly $8 million more on TV ads than the incumbent.
Obama’s College Math Doesn’t Add Up
[Politico, 7/27/12] Obama promised that the U.S. would lead the world in college graduates by 2020 – but his own administration’s numbers show he won’t come close to keeping that promise. The realities of ballooning costs, budget cuts, and underprepared students stand in the way.
What Was Romney Like as a Mormon Bishop?
[Huffington Post, 7/27/12] Those who interacted with Romney during his time as a Mormon Church leader in Massachusetts can give clues to a frequent question about the candidate: Can he relate to the average person? Some say he was insensitive, but Romney’s close advisors say he showed enormous compassion to those in need.
Electoral Tie Possible in Obama-Romney Race
[CNN, 7/26/12] The likelihood that Obama and Romney will each net 269 electoral votes in November, instead of the 270 needed to win, is actually not so farfetched. A tie would set off a wave of constitutional and political mayhem that would make the 2000 Florida recount seem like a tidy affair.
Political Connections: Disarmed Democrats
[National Journal, 7/26/12] Gun control is deeply unpopular with the portions of the white electorate most hostile to Obama: Blue-collar whites and college-educated white men. But among the voters who might actually voter for Obama, restrictions on gun ownership still attract solid majority support. National Journal’s Ron Brownstein delves into the numbers when it comes to gun control.
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