Joe Gandelman, 9/26/2012 [Archive]

Mitt Romney's Big Debate Challenge

Mitt Romney's Big Debate Challenge

Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman

When President Barack Obama faces off against Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Denver on Oct. 3 for the first of three Presidential debates, Romney starts a new chapter where he must win two key debates. He must win the debates at hand and a debate seemingly raging within himself that's picked up by voters.

Both candidates have been preparing big-time for the debates, with many analysts saying Romney has prepared more extensively than any Presidential candidate in American history. He'll face Obama, who must try not to lose ground and play defense.Obama must look Presidential, answer and nail Romney on specifics, and not provide the GOP with a factual error or gaffe in a campaign that seems more about gaffes and media joy in covering them than serious substantive policy issues.

But if Obama walks a tightrope, Romney must steady the shaky one he's been walking on.

Political scientist Samuel Poplin, author of the must-read "The Candidate: What it Takes to Win — and Hold — the White House" has noted: "While a challenger's presidential campaign can quickly adjust and adapt to shifting winds like a speedboat, an incumbent's campaign behaves more like a battleship, maneuvering slowly and making very large waves."

Romney's problem is that since his non-helpful Republican convention, Obama's campaign has seemed like the speedboat and Romney's like the battleship. Or the cruise ship Titanic.

If Ann Romney said, "Stop it" to Romney's conservative Republican critics, it's what they've been screeching at the Romney campaign as they watch its Gong Show-like performance. Romney may have once tied his dog Seamus to the roof his car, but today, due to tepid polling numbers and a campaign that MUST be being run by Democratic moles, it's Romney who's in the political doghouse.

Romney's task in the debate will be formidable because he will have to communicate a grasp of issues (he will) but also quickly make himself instantly likable (tougher). Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks calls Romney "the least popular candidate in history," a technocratic "non-ideological person running in an extremely ideological age, and he's faking it."The Daily Beast's John Avlon is even more blunt in trying to diagnose why Romney is so disliked.

Avlon notes that in Presidential primaries Romney's competitors personally disliked Romney, who they viewed as aloof and politically cold-blooded.Avlon sees voters as picking up some vibes:

"Mitt Romney approaches politics in a more transactional way.He wants to improve the country but he is fundamentally a salesman and in this worldview, it would be illogical not to tailor sales to the needs of different audiences. Why would Mitt try to make the same pitch to a Massachusetts electorate as Republican primaries voters? It's not personal; it's business. This businesslike approach to politics also explains Mitt's willingness to go negative."

Avlon concludes what I've concluded in reading "The Real Romney" by Boston Globe investigative reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman: "Romney is a good man deep down. But his dislike of politics, his disregard of policy details, and his plain discomfort with average people ends up looking like a disdain for the democratic process, and that's a problem if you want to be the president of all Americans."

How ingrained is Romney's attitude problem? Look no further than his response on CBS' 60 Minutes to Scott Pelley, unsuccessfully trying to get Romney to tell him what tax loopholes he'd close.Pelley finally said to Romney: "The devil's in the details." And Romney replied: "The devil's in the details. The angel is the policy." P.S.: Romney never gave Pelley the details.

Attention Mitt Romney:If you give answers like this in the debate, you'll find the failure will be in the fudging, the error in the evasion, and the debate loss in the predictable non-answer.

No one likes someone who absolutely refuses to give a straight answer. And you have a big, fat problem with being liked.

-----

Copyright 2012 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at jgandelman@themoderatevoice.com and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.




Download Joe Gandelman's color photo - Download Joe Gandelman's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Joe Gandelman's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

 Lib  Romney Distraction
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
September 20, 2012

 Lib  Romney Distraction COLOR
By: Daryl Cagle
Slate.com
September 20, 2012

Romney Path to Victory COLOR
By: Nate Beeler

September 18, 2012

Romney Path to Victory
By: Nate Beeler

September 18, 2012

 Lib  debate prep
By: David Fitzsimmons

September 24, 2012

 Lib  debate prep
By: David Fitzsimmons

September 24, 2012

Painting His Opponent
By: John Darkow

August 9, 2012

Romney quotes
By: Tom Janssen

September 20, 2012
  

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. [Privacy Policy]