Last week, the Romney campaign scored a one-two punch with its surprise speech at Solyndra and its rapid-fire mobilization of a counter protest of Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod’s speech in Boston.
But something else happened last week, something big.
Team Romney returned to its anti-cronyism theme and, as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post put it, “hit pay dirt” in so doing.
Romney’s anti-cronyism theme has Team Obama rattled because it manages to communicate three powerful themes wrapped up in one simple message: 1) free markets create jobs 2) government favoritism of businesses disrupts free markets and hurts jobs 3) Obama’s acts of crony capitalism prove he doesn’t understand how the economy works and that he’s responsible for killing jobs.
Here’s how Romney explained the ills of cronyism in his speech at Solyndra:
“What you’re saying to other inventors, to other entrepreneurs, particularly in the solar space, is that the best way to get ahead is not with the best ideas and the best technology and the best people and the best marketing, but instead with the best lobbyists. That is not the nature of how America works…
“[Solyndra’s] corporate headquarters looked like the Taj Mahal, they had showers that looked like spa showers. Oh, these guys were living high because it was government money, it was someone else’s money, it was the taxpayer’s money.”
And here’s what he said at a fundraiser near San Francisco:
“Have you seen the Solyndra corporation headquarters? You probably have. That’s what happens when government puts in hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise. And by the way, the president doesn’t understand when you invest like that in one solar energy company, it makes it harder for solar technology generally because the scores of other entrepreneurs in the solar field suddenly lost their opportunity to get capital. Who wants to put money into a solar company when the government puts half a billion into one of its choice? So instead of encouraging solar energy, he discouraged it. They don’t understand how the free economy works.”
It’s precisely this kind of “educator-in-chief” communication that has the Obama campaign on their heels, because it demonstrates to voters how Romney’s business acumen might help get Americans back to work. And as Jennifer Rubin notes, worse for Obama, Romney’s anti-cronyism theme inverts Democrats’ “we’re for the little guy and small business” mantra:
“Romney is right to keep hammering away at crony capitalism. If Democrats are smart, they will stop defending the indefensible and insist on breaking the nexus between big business and big government….If the Democrats were really the protector of the “little guy,” they’d insist on it.”
Anti-cronyism, it seems, is quickly emerging as a central theme of the 2012 presidential election. Look for both campaigns to try and seize it.