Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Behind the Ad: Turnabout, fair play, and all that jazz

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

Who: The Romney campaign.

Where: Several swing states, including Ohio.

What's going on: Yes, the Obama campaign has made good use of Mitt Romney's former GOP presidential rivals saying nasty things about him. The Romney campaign, as payback, has dug up a four-year-old clip of Hillary Clinton complaining about Obama's campaign saying things about her in 2008 that she claims were untrue.

As The New York Times writes:

The ad is part of a broader effort by Mr. Romney's campaign to try to undermine the edge that the president has in likability. Aides to Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, are eager to suggest that Mr. Obama's campaign is ruthless and that the candidate will say anything to get elected.

Hey, I supported Hillary four years ago and still wonder if she might have been a better choice. I really do. I had problems with the way she was characterized then by a lot of Democrats. But I have a hard time believing anything Romney does now is going to give him an edge in likability. More than likely people will look at this ad and be glad the President of the United States knows how to play hardball even while coming across as one-heck-of-a-guy.

The Times also points out that Romney hopes the ad might appeal to women, which could be true. There is, however, a problem with the overall strategy:

The Romney campaign is hoping to capitalize on the fact that Mrs. Clinton is popular with women and swing voters — two groups that Mr. Romney will need to win the White House in the fall. 

But Mr. Obama has the ultimate defense if the ad starts gaining traction. Having made Mrs. Clinton a member of his cabinet — and her agreeing to join — makes it harder to argue that she still holds a grudge. 

And despite her role in a traditionally nonpartisan job, she might be moved to respond to the ad in a way that could undermine its effectiveness.

I'm also having trouble with the general theme of Romney's ad, which seems to be: "Barack Obama is a big bad man and he's lying about me." Poor boy.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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