Juggernaut. Inevitable. Commanding lead.
We’ll see tonight how inevitable Mitt Romney is. But when Andrea Mitchell called the Romney campaign a juggernaut two days ago, I squawked back to the TV — “He won by 8 votes in Iowa. He got the same percentage of votes as four years ago after running for four more years. Juggernaut?????”
Campaign reporting, especially with all those cable hours to fill, is usually just dogs panting after whatever squirrel’s running through the yard at the moment. Candidates (usually those who are behind) always say there’s only one poll that matters — the election. Romney is assumed to be inevitable because he’s polling ahead in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, because he has a ton of money, and because his opponents are so lame. But things can change in a hurry — Romney’s lead is melting as I type — unless the media keeps broadcasting self-fulfilling prophecies.
Romney could have been labeled a failure after Iowa — four years, millions of dollars, no gain in votes or percentage, stuck at 25%, the majority of voters rejecting him. LBJ won the New Hampshire primary in 1968 with 49.5% of the vote to Gene McCarthy’s 42.4%. But the media called this a loss for LBJ — a sitting president nearly tied by an upstart senator with a bunch of kids campaigning for him. New Hampshire played a huge role in Johnson saying he wouldn’t run for reelection.
Iowa could have been called an embarrassing loss for Romney. His candidacy could have been called wounded. But instead, his 8-vote landslide kept an imaginary juggernaut rolling. I think this is irresponsible inaccurate reporting by the media.
We’ll see how the juggernaut rolls tonight.
New Hampshire has gotten interesting because of the power of words. President Obama hasn’t been able to capture people’s anger about what was done to the economy by speculators in any succinct way. It took a blogger to come up with “We are the 99 percent.” Hugely powerful because of its simplicity.
The New York Times ran front-page stories about Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital through November and December. The most comprehensive on Nov. 12, showed exactly what what Bain did in many cases — piled debt on the company, Dade International, killed 1,700 jobs, and left the company no option but bankruptcy. Bain took $342 million for itself. (How’s that for pay for performance?)
So Romney’s Bain record has been out there for anyone to see. Only in the last few days have Romney’s opponents started nailing him coherently for Bain. And it’s simple language that gains traction. “Predatory capitalism.” “Outsourcing jobs.”
And, from the master of invective, the “relentlessly positive” NastyNewt Gingrich, this gem in today’s Times: “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money?” Pretty clear, pretty punchy. Better if he were more specific about “manipulate” — kill jobs, lower wages, cut benefits. (And how will any of these hypocritical weasels defend their opposition to effective regulation of the very behavior they are criticizing at Bain once they’re done smacking Mitt over the head?)
“Makes millions off killing jobs. Your kind of guy?” Simple bumper sticker.
Simple clear language — it works.
(Image from Politico.com)