Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And so it begins...

By Carl 

The past couple of weeks, ever since Rick Santorum dropped out, have been prologue. A time trial, if you will, the opening stage of silly season touring:

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The Republican presidential race is over.

Mitt Romney won the Texas primary Tuesday, picking up enough delegates to clinch the nomination.

CBS News estimates Romney now has 1,198 GOP delegates.

Romney didn't go to Texas Tuesday night to celebrate.

He was raising big money with Donald Trump in Las Vegas. 

Okay, a couple of points to make here before I move on:

1) Texans won't forget the insult. Texas is arguably a soft Republican state now, as the dramatic increase in Latinos bodes poorly for a state-wide electorate suddenly voting not only against their better interests but also against their own safety and security. Romney really needs to solidify his standing with the cowboys and oil men of Texas and generate enthusiasm. This fundraiser with Trump in Vegas not only puts him at odds with Texans who would have wanted to celebrate with Romney, but gives a clear signal that the yankee has more stroke than the largest state in the Republican column.

2) The more Trump speaks and the closer that Romney ties himself to Trump, the bigger the loss Romney faces. For Trump, it's a no-lose situation: he gets publicity, he gets to dupe the rubes out of even more cash in his casinos, and if Romney manages a miracle, he suddenly has stroke in the White House. This is Trump's M.O., however: risk nothing and gamble with everyone else's money. After all, it's how he attempted to "steal" the Empire State Building for a mere $50,000. For Romney, he's blind to the danger he's put not only his campaign in, but the entire party.

3) Up until now, the Obama re-election campaign has kept their powder dry and not unleashed torrents of attacks. This is traditional and pro-forma: you don't launch a full-scale campaign until you're sure of who you are facing. Even now, Obama will smartly withhold the main thrusts of his attack at least until Romney names a Veep candidate. Why tip your hand and allow your opponent to shore up his weaknesses? By all accounts, Romney is not politically savvy enough to remain nimble. A lot of what he has said up to this point has been a mixture of memorized bromidizations and off-the-cuff gaffes -- "tells," if you will. Romney's weakness is his uncomfortable balance of entitlement with the appearance of caring for the poor (if indeed he actually does not).

If Romney's staff is as disciplined as it should be, Romney will take this opportunity to lay out his attacks on Obama. It's free play time, and Obama will be busy being presidential right up to the convention, if not beyond. A lot depends on the polls: specifically, polls in states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Right now, though, Romney has a few weeks of free sailing, and that message seems to be taken up. So far this week, Romney's attacked foreign policy and the stimulus, two Obama strengths (and two really stupid attacks to make). Job creation will likely be on the agenda, which for Romney is probably his strongest argument.

Which is saying a lot considering how few jobs he's actually created himself, a point the President's team has been quick to make early and often.

If Romney's staff is as undisciplined as I believe it is, it'll screw up this freebie.

But, as we hockey people like to say, "Game on!"

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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