Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Here is the fifth issue of Capital Brief, from July 10, focusing on recent conservative and Republican criticisms of Romney and a rejuvenated Obama campaign message.

Click below to read the Brief.

Capital Brief  
Amy Greene
Capital Brief, n°5 – July 10, 2012

The Heat on Romney: Where Is the Substance?


·      Mitt Romney again outraises Obama (June: $106m Romney v. $71m Obama) showing both Republican backers’ conviction that Obama is beatable and lower donor enthusiasm for Obama than in 2008. (Romney has still not overcome Obama’s narrow polling leads)
o   But many top Republicans are exasperated over his lack of public policy proposals, warning that inaction and timidity will be no match for Obama’s tough Chicago team (cf. Rupert Murdoch, William Kristol). They argue that waiting for time to pass without going on offense spells loss.

·    They also criticize Romney’s response to the Supreme Court health reform ruling for its conflicting messages and fumbling over consistent language to strike the controversial part of the ruling head-on. The result meant that Romney was absent at a moment crucial to selling an authoritative narrative opposing the law.

·    Obama surrogates have pounced on the discovery of Romney’s Swiss bank accounts and Bermuda corporate holdings. For many Americans, Swiss bank accounts signify quasi-legal murkiness; for others, inaccessible wealth. Both options feed the perception of someone out of touch with the middle class realities and struggles and extend past the aspirational, into the “unlikeable.”

·      Romney will travel to the London Olympics before visiting Israel to meet Netanyahu. The trip will give Romney the chance to give Americans the image of presidential stature. Hillary Clinton will visit Israel just before Romney.


·    Romney won a long and difficult primary in part by remaining discreet and allowing other candidates to self-destruct - no major risks, no major gaffes. But even his backers doubt that holding back can win a presidential election.

·    Romney calls the president a failure without going on the stump to detail an alternative roadmap. His central talking point remains his business experience, still an unconvincing argument to many Americans.

o   The closeness of the election would confirm voters’ doubts about Obama. But will they vote against an incumbent without receiving an arsenal of concrete and transparent, detailed policy prescriptions from the adversary?

o   The less Romney says, the easier it is for Obama’s team to define Romney publicly as coreless, out-of-touch, and ideological. Likeability is a problem for both Romney and Obama (himself struggling with working class white voters); but the more convincingly Obama advocates for the middle class – and the more opaque Romney’s personal dealings seem – the harder for Romney to reclaim his own narrative.

o   Obama has come out swinging with renewed focus on energizing Democratic voters and intensifying calls to protect middle class while castigating Republican Congress (cf. proposed extension of Bush tax cuts for middle class, gay marriage support, immigration order, student loan bill).