Saturday, June 02, 2012

Behind the Ad: Romney's "Morning in America" imitation

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: The Mitt Romney campaign.

Where: Unspecified but possibly Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

What's going on: The Romney campaign released a new television ad Friday, which promised that Mitt would get America "back on the right track." The title of the ad is "A Better Day," and it is the third is a series with the general theme of what a President Romney would do on "day one" in office should he win the presidency.

The big mentions in the 30 second spot are that he would focus on the economy, create jobs, cut the deficit, promote energy policy and stand up to China on trade.

But the key, and one has to assume they are going for the Reagan feel, is this flowing voice over comment: "But there's something more than legislation or new policy. It's the feeling we'll have that our country's back, back on the right track. That's what will be different about a Romney presidency."

I love the clever use of the phase: "the feeling we'll have that our country's back..." It's awfully similar to the Tea Party language that they "want their country back," which always implied that Obama's presidency was illegitimate and that the direction in which he and his supporters wanted to take the country was somehow "un-American." On the one hand, it appeals to Tea Party radicals, and, on the other, getting the country "back on the right track," appeals to mainstream patriotic Americans who just want to see the country come out of the recession. Very clever on Romney's part.

It's a slick ad. They might as well have just used the "Morning in American" theme. From my perspective, everything about it works with the exception that Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. As long as Romney is shaking hands and smiling but not saying anything, he may be safe. But when there's no grand "West Wing" musical score, no perfect voice over, no flawless cinematography, it's going to fall apart. We know he doesn't have that royal jelly. I see what they're going for, but their guy can't carry it off when it's just him, and for much of the campaign that is what it will be.

Partisanship aside, Mitt Romney is not a very likeable guy, at least that's what the numbers say. People don't warm to him because he's not a warm person, not a very inspiring person. Again, good ad, but there has to be some truth to the characterization of the protagonist in these things and I simply don't think there is.

I guess the question is, with all the money Republicans are going to spend, is it possible to prove me wrong? Can political ads create a wholly false image in the Citizens United era? I still don't think so, but it is interesting to contemplate.

CNN is reporting that Romney has reserved $2 million in ad time in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, "one of the campaign's largest ad buys so far." The campaign has not, however, provided confirmation about any of this.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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