Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former President Bill Clinton both have made some off-message remarks in the last several weeks. They both hold to the claim that Obama will win the upcoming election, but they're expressing reservations a lot of people have over Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital.
At first glance, it does seem like a target ripe for the picking. There are few things that represent capitalism better than a pool of money headed up by people who then buy businesses — many of them struggling — and then figure out a way to make a lot of money out of those investments. In left wing la-la land, this is an inherently evil undertaking — an illustration of the wrongs brought upon us by our 1% overlords.
But if you take those hyper-partisan blinders off, and look at Romney's actual history at Bain, you see that it's not nearly the sort of target the Obama campaign should be focusing on. There were quite a few more successes than failures, and a heck of a lot more jobs were created than lost. The Democrats are hoping that people just won't spend enough time looking past their talking points. They may be right about that, but even if that's the case, it's not where their focus should be.
Clinton and Booker are making the safer bet in saying Obama will win. It's not as sure-fire of a bet as they'd like to make it out to be, but the odds look to be solidly in his favor from where things stand now.
Real Clear Politics' electoral college map shows Obama leading by 67 electoral votes, a margin that reflects the states leaning or likely going blue over states leaning or likely going red. If he holds the states he's currently leading in, Obama will only need to pull in another 32 electoral votes (about a quarter of the electoral votes in the swing states), while Romney needs to bring down 99 (roughly 75% of the votes left in the swing states).
It's believable that some of those blue states might drop into swing state status; a majority of the swing states might go to Romney, if we keep getting monthly jobs reports like we just did, and a few other flips of the coin and strategic blunders go Romney's way. The Obama campaign is playing right into the hands of the red team by focusing their efforts on their base with this Occupy-Wall-Street-inspired attack on Bain.
Clinton praised Romney's record as a businessman; Booker pointed out that this brand of Bain attack is below the belt, and should be below Obama and company. What team blue should be hearing is this: two national figures that have a great deal of clout with centrists and moderates are giving advice on how to court the deciding swing voters in the deciding states.
Focusing on Bain makes even less sense when you take a look at Romney's official campaign platform. It's not the stuff of right wing Nutterville, as some on the left would make it out to be, but it is very much conservative, and out of touch with what people want As I wrote a few months back, about the economic plan Romney has on his campaign website:
He says he isn't concerned about the poor, and to a degree this is illustrated in a lack of talk from him on issues directly concerning the poor. But there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that he wasn't being truthful when he said he wasn't concerned about the rich.
There are many reasons campaigns should stop playing so many games and focus more on actual policy — but in this case, it's also the best path towards taking Romney down a few pegs. Romney has the last few years of mediocrity to hammer Obama on. Responding with attacks on Romney for being a successful businessman is not a smart play for Obama. If he wants to tie up his re-election, he ought to start listening to people like Booker and Clinton, two of the best examples one can come up with of Demcrats who know how to speak to those centrist and moderate swing voters.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a former nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates.
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