When the week began, and the Republican National Convention bore the unfortunate burden (again) of coinciding with a hurricane near New Orleans, some thought that it was inevitable that President Barack Obama would upstage challenger Mitt Romney–not by campaigning, but by visiting areas affected by the storm, quietly reminding voters that he is still President, and drawing an implicit comparison with George W. Bush.
Yet somehow Obama spent the week campaigning, at rallies and online, while Romney, who only yesterday accepted his party’s nomination for the job, has beaten Obama to the scene, and will visit hurricane-ravaged communities in Louisiana today, the Hill reports. Obama had all week to visit affected areas, but did not–and the media let him off the hook. (Apparently hurricanes are only policy failures if Republicans are in power.)
Unlike Sen. John McCain’s clumsy and disastrous decision to “suspend his campaign” in the wake of the financial crisis of Sept. 2008, Romney’s trip to New Orleans projects command, confidence and leadership.
If there was one overall theme of the RNC in Tampa this week, it was “Let’s Get to Work.” That message spoke to trying to jumpstart the moribund Obama economy, as well as tackling the difficult challenges facing the federal budget due to Obama’s reckless spending and outright neglect of the pending entitlements disaster.
Today, the theme will be reinforced by Romney’s tour of storm damage with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The move by the Romney campaign is not only the right thing to do, but is also a tactically brilliant upstaging of Obama, catching his Chicago campaign team flat-footed. Obama, the incumbent, has the built-in advantage–and is squandering it.
Obama’s dereliction of duty with regard to Hurricane Isaac is only the latest example of his failure to show leadership. The mantle has passed to Romney–particularly since the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, which returned the national debate to substantive economic issues.
If Romney keeps this up, the Obama campaign will not only suffer a collapse of support, but a collapse of legitimacy as voters lose confidence that he has any interest in the job. As Ed Klein observed, with prescience, in his bestselling book, The Amateur, with Obama “[w]e come to know a strange kind of politician, one who derives no joy from the cut and thrust of politics, but who clings to the narcissistic life of the presidency.”
Breitbart TV editor Larry O’Connor contributed to this report.