Campaign hubris from Obama and Romney


There’s been an outbreak of campaign hubris of late. This has nothing to do with Newt “Moon President” Gingrich, his vows to stay in the race for the Republican nomination or his general demeanor. I’m talking about two campaign process stories in the last week that had all the subtlety of a red dress at a funeral — which no doubt was the point.

More than a few folks were taken aback by the Sunday New York Times story on the eve of the Florida primary extolling the brilliance of the Romney campaign. After getting a beat-down in South Carolina, the goal of Camp Romney was to “make Newt mad and Mitt meaner.” I called it premature dancing in the end zone, for the open discussion of how it went about driving Newt nuts. But, man, did it work. The former Massachusetts governor beat the former House speaker by 14 points, 46 percent to 32 percent. Now Romney just has to ensure that such brilliance actually snares him the nomination in Tampa this August.

This morning, it was the Obama team’s turn to try to enrage Romney with open gloating over its effort to exploit his every tin-ear flub. Can’t say that I blame them. He really is “the gift that keeps on giving.” Why not use every opportunity to rattle the guy? Besides, as one Democrat told me, Camp Obama “has a more difficult task ahead than anyone else who has ever effectively reelected a sitting president.”

Like I said, I can’t blame Obama’s operatives. The president’s reelection effort has to do everything possible to soften up its potential opponent considering the worst economic state faced by an incumbent seeking a second term. Then there’s no getting around the fact that said incumbent also happens to be the first black to hold the office, who spent the first two years having his citizenship questioned.  

With Obama’s approval rating now at 50 percent in the new Post-ABC News poll and with a better-than-expected jobs report for January, there’s reason for cautious optimism in the West Wing and in Chicago. Now they have to hope things keep breaking their way for the next nine months. Anything — but hopefully not everything — could happen in that time. So less talking and more doing, people.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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