Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Behind the Ad: The GOP's greatest challenge -- Obama's popularity

Who: GPS Crossroads (Karl Rove).

Where: 10 swing states starting May 23.

What's going on: Whatever your partisan leanings, if you are fascinated by how politics is done, you may find the latest ads by GPS Crossroads, Karl Rove's group, most interesting.

The approach is to be careful in how they characterize President Obama, not to be too negative. As the New York Times story suggests, GOP focus-group testing found that a lot of independent voters don't what to see attacks on Obama's integrity or suggestions that he is a crazy radical. Many of them voted for him and they still like him. They don't buy that stuff.

What these ads try to do, rather, is to convey the message that President Obama hasn't delivered on his promises, that he hasn't lived up to advanced billing. It is almost as if the ads want to suggest an air of sadness that Obama has been a disappointment and that it might be time to give someone else a chance.

Of course, being a Karl Rove production, the punch line is built on a lie that the economy has gotten worse since it crashed under George W. Bush but, hey, we're talking about Karl Rove here.

What's interesting about this is the problem conservatives are having coming directly at Obama. And the other half of this is, you'll recall, the Republican argument that Romney may not be a rock star, but at least he's a good financial manager. That's been their claim, anyway, and one they are likely to stick with through the fall.

Everything hinges on getting people to believe the lie that Obama made things worse and the equally absurd claim that Romney has a record of job creation. We'll see how that works.

What I find most interesting is that Republicans are genuinely afraid of that thousand watt personality of Barack Obama's and are trying to do whatever they can to mitigate its power when everyone really starts to pay attention.

As I imagine Romney and Obama on the same stage during the debates, for example, I only have one thought. It's not going to work.

But at least we know that the Republicans know what their greatest challenge will be.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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