Ask most political strategists what Romney needs to win and they’ll tell you Ohio, Virginia and Florida. You can’t turn those states from swing to safe, however, without a narrative, which is exactly what Romney lacks. Here are three ways to change that and the outcome of the election.
1.) Define himself as a leader by refusing to apologize for his views.
Why did Romney immediately go into a defensive panic mode and proffer a bowed head apology when a tape emerged of him talking about the 47% of Americans who do not pay taxes? What he said was true and, more to the point, a great narrative. Take a look:
All right, there are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it…And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
Can we get an amen from the 53% who do pay taxes? Hell, yes and so could Romney on Election Day if he would just own his views. Americans want a leader, not an equivocator. Frenzied damage control and proffered apologies do not inspire confidence. Obama called us “soft” and uttered the now infamous “you didn’t build that” line, and Romney’s still not walloping him in the polls? Romney has the better narrative; he needs to tell it without apology to win.
2.) Define Obama.
President Obama has presided over 43 months of unemployment higher than 8%, a loss of 700,000 people from the workforce who gave up looking for jobs, and the highest ever misery index in American history, and the election is still about whether or not Mitt Romney is a rich, out of touch white guy?
Romney needs to define Obama as a failed President and be unrelenting in tying him to the policies harming America. He should do it by using the Saul Alinksy tactic Team Obama has internalized: use his own words against him.
If Obama tries to paint Romney as out of touch, Romney needs to reply that he doesn’t want to be “in touch” with Obama’s failed policies. Obama is the President, not Romney, and he should remind America of that. Every day should be an opportunity for Romney to highlight the real and human consequences of Obama’s failed policies.
3.) Define America
In the larger landscape of history, this election will be a referendum on who and what we are as Americans and what we are to become. Romney needs to lay out his vision for a freer and more prosperous America in stark contrast to Obama’s future of failure and bankruptcy.
Barack Obama has narrated his vision: we’re either poor victims in need of salvation or the rich perps in need of comeuppance, and Barack Obama is the man to deliver both. In Obama’s America, no one should be too rich or too poor and there is no achievement without government. Where is Romney’s vision for us? That void is where the electorate has cast their eyes in hopes of finding a reason to cast their vote.
Romney needs to paint an American future in which people can earn their success or learn from their failures, but to remove the possibility of one (failure) destroys the chance of the other. He must remind us that we are a nation that, for generations, people the world over have sacrificed everything to come to, not because the government gave them free things, but because it ensured their freedom.
Vision, leadership and the hard truth about how bad things are in our country because of this President; that’s what America needs from a leader and what Mitt Romney must provide to win.