According to Mitt Romney adviser Ed Gillespie, the campaign will refocus its message this week to hone in on President Obama’s vulnerabilities in the Rust Belt, particularly in Ohio. “We are talking not only on the president’s performance over the past four years, but the cost of his policies going forward,” said Gillespie this morning. Romney would center his argument on “how four more years of the last four years is not going to be good for the American people.”
This is a strategy Romney should have embraced long ago. President Obama has failed entirely to say what he would do with a second term, other than “finish” what he started – which could mean anything from full-scale social engineering to implementing Obamacare to raising taxes. Romney should have been pointing out all along that the only indicator of what Obama will do for the next four years is what he has done the last four years – Romney has been far more specific about what he would do in a first term than Obama has been about what he would do in a second.
Gillespie also said that Romney would hit Obama on trade policy, particularly with regard to China. Ohioans are generally less pro-free trade than other states around the country, since they have a heavy manufacturing base consistently undercut by foreign nations who use cheap labor and environmentally unfriendly working conditions, and who don’t tolerate private unions. “I think it’s clear that the message on China has resonated not only with the voters,” said Gillespie, “but you can tell with the response from the Obama campaign.”
It’s about time Romney embraced a campaign that has both strategy – broad overall messaging – and tactics. Targeting specific group will be necessary for him to swing particular states, especially battleground states that rely on small numbers of independents to swing for or against a candidate.