Now that Mitt Romney is the unofficial GOP nominee, his campaign is busily preparing to reintroduce him to the swing constituencies he alienated during the GOP nomination process. The question is this: Will anyone let him make this pivot?
In an interesting twist, conservative Republicans and Democrats alike share an interest in holding Romney to the positions he took during the primary. Both sides agree on one point: They want Campaign 2012 to shape up as a grand ideological struggle between two starkly different visions for the nation’s future. Conservatives don’t want to merely deny Obama a second term by any means necessary, and particularly not with any calculated, craven move to the “center.” They want to see Obama decisively dispatched in an ideological death match that reaffirms the superiority and dominance of their worldview.
Democrats, meanwhile, also want the contest to be framed along similarly grandiose ideological lines. They believe swing voters ultimately will choose Obama’s values, priorities and vision if Romney can be kept in the ideological prison he built during the primary.
Romney’s team is already signaling the pivot. An anonymous Romney adviser makes it plain in an interview with Dan Balz:
“Voters will now look at Mitt differently and through a different prism. We can use this new beginning as an opportunity to reintroduce the campaign and the candidate.”
Sure, Romney will have a chance to reintroduce himself to swing consistuencies on more favorable terms as the nominee. But the anger on the right over the Etch-A-Sketch moment confirmed that conservatives fully expect Romney to try to ditch the positions he had to take in the primary. Whether it’s on immigration, abortion and women’s health, or the Paul Ryan budget and its vision of the role of government and the proper distribution of wealth and the tax burden, conservatives will be watching closely for any deviations from previously proclaimed positions and principles. And so will Dems.
One outstanding question: Whether reporters and commentators will hold Romney accountable for those positions, or whether they will merely be written off as stuff Romney just had to say to get through the primary but didn’t really mean — you know, as just part of the game.
* Obama campaign move to box in Romney: Along the above lines, the Obama campaign is out with a new video featuring Romney’s greatest hits from the GOP primary — a collection of moments Dems are determined not to allow swing voters to forget:
Interestingly, conservatives intend to hold Romney to many of these positions, too.
* Conservatives won’t give Romney breathing room: Harold Meyerson:
If he says anything favorable about reproductive rights, the Republican right will be all over him. If he so much as suggests he’s rethinking his position on the Dream Act, the GOP base will read him the riot act. Like Whitman, he has lashed himself to the mast of an aggrieved and wacked-out right, on a voyage going no place but down. A more deft politician might be able to extricate himself from this position. Romney is nobody’s idea of deft.
* More pressure from conservatives: This is what we’re talking about: Conservative leader Gary Bauer is already warning Romney that if he doesn’t take active steps to prevent evangelicals from staying at home this fall, he will lose.
* Romney rolls out bogus “war on women” talking point: Get ready for a lot more of this one: On the stump yesterday, Romney repeatedly said women represent 92 percent of all jobs lost — his latest talking point designed to close the gender gap. Good for Trip Gabriel of the New York Times for pointing out in his news story that the claim has been rated “mostly false” by Politifact, and that Romney probably intends to continue using it, anyway.
The Post’s Glenn Kessler also casts doubt on a related claim by the RNC. One hopes that each time Romney says this stuff, news orgs will tell readers he’s trying to mislead them.
* Obama to keep pushing Buffett Rule, linking it to Romney: Obama today will be joined by millionaires and their secretaries at an event pitching the Buffett Rule, and the link to Romney will be direct:
As the White House does this, the Obama campaign will put on its website a calculator that allows people to see what they’d pay in taxes if they paid Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax rate of 13.9 percent — a perfectly legal tax rate, since most of Romney’s income that year was through investments not income, but one that President Obama wants to raise.
* What the Buffett Rule is really about: Conservatives continue claiming that the Buffett Rule won’t do much to reduce the deficit. Andrew Rosenthal pushes back:
Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Buffett has ever said the millionaires’ rate is about deficit reduction. It is about making the tax code truly progressive. When Mr. Buffett pays a smaller share of his income to the government than his secretary, we are not just rewarding Mr. Buffett, we are punishing the secretary.
As Rosenthal notes, the battle over the Buffett Rule perfectly captures the difference in values between Romney and Obama.
* Deflating the Crossroads hype: With the Rove-founded Crossroads going up with $1.7 million in swing state ads attacking Obama over gas prices, Dem strategist Jim Jordan tells Dems to stop panicking.
“If there were ever a politician who’s immune to this stuff, it’s Obama,” Jordan says, adding that while such spending isn’t irrelevant, “every single American knows him, knows everything about him, and has an opinion that’s not all that likely to be manipulated by super PAC activity.”
* Crossroads’s inane argument against Buffett Rule: Speaking of Crossroads, Steve Benen deftly skewers the group’s new argument, if that’s the right word for it, which holds that any rich people who think their taxes aren’t high enough should just write another check to the government.
* Public confidence in Supreme Court is low: An interesting number from this week’s Post poll: Only 40 percent think the Supreme Court will base its decision on Obamacare on the “rule of law,” versus 50 percent who say it will be dictated by “partisan political views.”
Meanwhile, as Taegan Goddard notes, the poll finds the law has plummeted to its lowest level of support ever.
* And Romney is in a historically weak position: Buzzfeed has the charts of the day, which reveal in particularly vivid detail how historically weak Romney is among women and independents.