Mitt Romney goes big
There was a simple message that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney wanted to send in his jobs speech Tuesday in Las Vegas: The economy needs a lot of help and I’ve got a lot of ideas.
Fifty-nine of them, to be exact, laid out in a 160-page book (how many people will read that one cover to cover?) and accompanied by the roll-out of a heavily credentialed economic team that will guide his thinking throughout the campaign — and likely in the White House if he makes it that far.
With his “flooding the zone” approach to the issue, Romney is hoping to seize the issue both in the primary and the general election — drawing contrasts with the less detailed approaches offered by his Republican rivals and presenting a clear and broad plan that, GOP voters at least believe, President Obama lacks.
Romney’s strategy is not terribly surprising given that his campaign has spent virtually all of its time over the past six months focused on drawing an economic contrast between himself and President Obama.
And, with the economy and jobs blotting out the sun as issues heading into 2012, it’s virtually impossible to offer too big a plan for an anxious American public that is desperately seeking solutions of any sort.
The questions for Romney is how his plan wears both in the near term (meaning the Republican primary fight) and the general election.
Already his rivals are working to chip away at Romney’s attempt to own the jobs/economy issue.
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman released a web video Tuesday morning hitting Romney (without mentioning his name) for his record on job creation as governor of Massachusetts. And, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made clear that he will run — and run hard — on his own job record in the Lonestar State.
The size and specificity of Romney’s plan will almost certainly force Perry, the race’s frontrunner at the moment, to offer a more detailed vision of how he would turn the nation’s economy around.
Until Perry does so, expect Romney — whether subtly or directly — to point to his plan as evidence that he is the better choice to draw a sharp contrast on the economy with President Obama next November.
What Romney did with his jobs plan today amounts to a bit of flag-planting. He is now the guy with the most detailed plan (or at least the longest one) in the Republican field — the proposal against which all of the other plans with the possible exception of the president’s will be measured.
And that’s just how his campaign wants it.