I noted here yesterday that Mitt Romney is running a “just trust me” campaign, in which his lack of specificity and transparency extends far beyond just his tax returns, to his bundlers and to large swaths of his policy proposals. Intriguingly enough, Romney advisers have now come right out and confirmed the thinking behind this strategy.
In a development that Dems are pouncing on right now, Romney advisers spelled it all out in interviews with Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei:
Advisers say the campaign has no plans to pivot from its previous view that diving into details during a general-election race would be suicidal.
The Romney strategy is simple: Hammer away at Obama for proposing cuts to Medicare and promise, in vague, aspirational ways, to protect the program for future retirees — but don’t get pulled into a public discussion of the most unpopular parts of the Ryan plan.
“The nature of running a presidential campaign is that you’re communicating direction to the American people,” a Romney adviser said. “Campaigns that are about specifics, particularly in today’s environment, get tripped up.”
You don’t say! Let’s step back and survey the overall picture so far.
Romney has broken with recent precedent — his father included — in refusing to release his tax returns, but he says has paid 13 percent for 10 years. (Just trust me.) Romney has not released the names of his major bundlers, but he won’t be beholden to his donors, as Obama has been. (Just trust me.) Romney vows to eliminate the deficit, and promises that his tax plan will be revenue neutral, even though he won’t say which loopholes and deductions he’d eliminate to pay for deep tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich. (Just trust me.) Romney says he intends to eliminate whole agencies of government, but won’t say which ones, except in closed-door meetings with donors, and even then, details are scarce. (All together now: Just trust me.)
Both Romney and Ryan have already confirmed in interviews that they see no need to share details of how his tax cuts would be paid for until after the election, when it all can be worked out with Congress. And when it comes to Romney’s vow to eliminate whole agencies and programs, Romney has freely admitted that he won’t specify which ones for the explicit reason that so doing would be politically problematic for him.
But now, in what appear to be strategic leaks designed to mollify Republicans worried about the campaign’s lack of specificity, Romney advisers are explicitly confirming that all of this is part of a grand strategy to only signal general direction to the American people. It’s a guiding idea that specifics are a political peril to be avoided. The campaign thinks sharing details about what he’d actually do as president would be politically suicidal. As Steve Benen asks: “what does it say about the merit of Romney’s policy agenda if voters are likely to recoil if they heard the whole truth?”
And this is coming after the campaign touted the selection of Paul Ryan as proof that the GOP ticket is deeply serious about policy and committed to making the tough decisions Democrats won’t.