Team Romney: Whatever McCain Did, Do The Opposite

This story must thrill John McCain and Sarah Palin

(Politico) Mitt Romney and his top aides are building a strategy, partly by design and partly because of circumstance, around what they consider John McCain’s disastrously run campaign in 2008.

The strategy: whatever McCain did, do the opposite.

Many of the current strategy discussions are centered on not falling into the traps McCain did: looking wobbly as a leader and weak on the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. The private discussions include ruling out any vice presidential possibilities who could be seen as even remotely risky or unprepared; wrapping the entire campaign around economic issues, knowing this topic alone will swing undecided voters in the final days; and, slowly but steadily, building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama.

McCain, according to Romney advisers, blew it on all three scores. And of the three, the most conscious effort by Romney’s team to do things differently will be in the V.P. selection process. One Republican official familiar with the campaign’s thinking said it will be designed to produce a pick who is safe and, by design, unexciting — a deliberate anti-Palin. The prized pick, said this official: an “incredibly boring white guy.”

Steve Schmidt, a top official on the McCain campaign, acknowledged the need for Romney to do things differently, saying that every major decision in 2008 had been made “through the prism that we were running in the worst political environment any Republican presidential candidate had every faced — it was just horrific.”

“That drove a culture of risk-taking and animated every aspect of the campaign,” Schmidt recalled. “The Romney campaign is in a totally winnable race, and their actions reflect that. They’re more cautious, where we were more elbows-out.”

In reality, there’s only one major thing Team Romney needs to avoid doing from what Team McCain did in 2008, and it’s not avoiding the pick of a dynamic person to be Mitt’s running mate: it’s making the huge, major, stupid pandering gaffe. Despite the talk about how McCain couldn’t have won, how Palin hurt him, the reality was much, much different.

Near the end of September 2008, the electoral map favored McCain over Obama. In the worst projections, it had lots and lots of toss-ups. It was when McCain said he was suspending his campaign and going to Washington to deal with the TARP legislation, then did……nothing to make it better, his campaign imploded.

Any huge pandering gaffes, or simply big gaffes, that Team Obama makes will be glossed over if not defended by the credentialed media. Romney will not have that luxury. What was Obama’s announcement regarding supporting gay marriage other than a huge pandering moment? The media won’t call him on that. They will barely acknowledge anything bad Obama does, and show little journalistic inquisitiveness on just what Obama policies have done. Consider Fast and Furious: most media have ignored it.

As for picking a boring running mate, that’s a good idea this year. McCain needed someone to fire up the conservative base. It worked. Mitt needs this election to be not about enthusiasm, but about vision and competence. He also needs to make a good appearance during the debates. If you listen to the McCain-Obama debates or read the transcripts, McCain tended to win. Watch them, and it was a draw or Obama win. Romney won’t make those same mistakes.

One mistake Romney seems to be attempting to avoid is blowing off “blue” states that he will most likely not win. McCain made a huge mistake in blowing these states off, especially Michigan. McCain put lots of them in play, yet, he didn’t campaign in those states much if at all. Team Romney looks like they want to make Obama defend those states.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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