Mitt’s Next Move – Staff’s Mandatory Reading of “The Art of War”

As Sun Tzu wrote, “keep your plan as dark as the night/when you move/be as unpredictable as the thunderbolt.”

I’m one of those Illinoisians who voted in the March primary for Mitt and gave him that “moderate GOP firewall.” After reading yesterday’s Politico piece, Team Obama 2012, Now what?, I belong to the school of thought that this election may not be as close as many people think.

Mitt Romney's Michigan win (Gerald Herbert/AP)

There’s more to Mitt than meets the eye.  The SuperPac that wiped out Gingrich and other primary competitors is comprised of people who are like Mitt and vice versa, that’s my gut instinct.   When Romney declared himself a candidate for the Presidency, he knew he’d be up against a powerful Democratic machine that would accept nothing less than total annihilation of its opponent.

Back in July 2011, when the debt ceiling talks were breaking down, and the S&P downgrade was looming, I wrote, “Reality Check – Obama Can Win Re-election,” in which I listed five strengths and strategies that could propel the President to a second term.  I stand by those still in April 2012.  It can still happen.

However, Mitt has some strengths that if used properly, can wipe out those advantages.

Strength #1:  The President’s Record

Barack Obama’s record on spending and the deficit must be kept front and center in the minds of the voters, but defined in the simplest of terms as to what it means for Americans and their future.  I refer to a blog post, “A Congressman who gets it,”  where the writer details Rep. Schweikert, (R-Arizona) addressing an audience on budget and deficit issues.

He laid out the stark numbers: every day 10,500 Baby Boomers turn 65. Today nondiscretionary spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt) consumes 63% of the federal budget. In 4.5 years it will account for 75%. In 17 years, when the last of the Boomers turns 65, 35% of the country will be on Social Security and Medicare–and non-discretionary spending will be 100% of the budget.

Romney needs to regroup, re-assess, and define himself and his holistic vision for America around one or two key points that are easy for everyone on his campaign to articulate (unlike the Lilly Ledbetter attempt) and that contrasts him against the President’s record.  Keep in mind it’s not just about the economy, it can’t be.  He has to do this quickly before Axelrod does it for him.

This “war on women” has turned into a national distraction, but so be it.  An excellent primer on how to make an issue out of a non-issue.  Male and female voters may have differing views on subjects, but the 2012 election is unique.  Turn the tables and talk to all of us as the American people, and keep citing the Obama record (and if asked a “woman” question, cite the White House male/female pay scale.)

While re-assessing, regrouping in the traditional channels of reaching voters, he should maximize and optimize the digital channel.  Republicans, in general, are way behind the curve in using email communications, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to reach their definitely voting for and likely to vote for public.  Mitt has been accused of being a throwback to the Draper character in the television series, Mad Men.  How better to surprise the Obama re-election machine than to beat them at their own game.

The Romney campaign staff needs re-assessing as well.  This is Obama, this is war.  The staff that has taken him through the primaries, may not be the staff he needs to win a national election.  Romney should broaden his net and find his Sun Tzu.

Strength #2:   The conservative base and tea party.

These are two of the strongest voting blocs in the country, in that they V-O-T-E.   This base needs to be solidly on board because every vote is going to be needed to countermand Obama’s base.

Identify their leaders, and bring them into an adjunct advisory circle so they can provide advice that Romney vitally needs in reaching this important demographic, because he will nothing but benefit from a campaign is inclusive and listening.   Romney may not succeed with all groups, but then nothing tried, nothing gained.

And, remember Timothy Cardinal Dolan.  Not necessarily a conservative or leader of a conservative movement, but he’s got it right with the Obamacare mandate being an affront to religious liberty, and not about denying women health insurance or contraception.  He won’t come out and tell people specifically to vote for Romney, but he’s one of the craftier Cardinals we’ve had in a long while, and he’ll get the message across.

Strength #3:  The Economy

In two key polling indicators, Romney surpasses the President, and both have to do with handling the economy.  Americans are waiting to hear in plain, simplistic terms what Romney will do to fix the economy and get people working again vs. giving Obama a second term.

Strength #4: Mitt and Ann Romney themselves

I happen to believe that people are tired of charisma and lofty rhetoric and want substance.  Romney is a CEO running for President, which is why he appears so awkward.  Some people think his rhetorical skills cannot match Obama’s, however, I find him to be more like Ronald Reagan, who was able to level the best arguments with a good one-liner. And Mitt has plenty of those.

The other not so secret weapon is Ann.  She has the ability to connect with voters, and presently is the likable one in the family, which is why the Dems fear her the most.  Witness the latest brouhaha with Hilary Rosen.  She puts a human face on her CEO husband.  She knows how to laugh, and can give as good as she gets.

So that’s my take, yea or nay?

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