Following up on Carter’s post about the conventions, I was surprised to see that former president Bill Clinton will play such a high-profile, featured role, when we Republicans think that President Obama is jealous of Clinton and secretly wishes he would disappear. Now, we must either admit that’s wrong or think that Obama is in such trouble that only Clinton can save him. Republicans don’t like to admit it, but Clinton probably could have won a third term, and he is still the best performer from either party.
Anyway, even with convention audiences dying, they still perform a necessary function of forcing the political parties to display who they think matters and what they believe. The party out of power needs a convention worse than the one that holds the White House. Mitt Romney needs a convention in some ways similar to how George Bush needed a convention in 1988. Romney needs to raise his game, to show the faithful and anyone who will tune in that he is presidential timber.
The convention gives Romney an opportunity to freshen his self-introduction to the American people and to include his vice presidential nominee as part of the picture. But the convention does bring some risk. Especially after the trip to Europe, there will be a big appetite to find mistakes, gaffes or any kind of sloppy work.
Political conventions are complicated, multimillion-dollar productions with a lot of moving parts. A lot can go wrong. Luckily for Romney, Republican conventions are pretty well-structured and have pretty much been managed by the same person since 1988. Our convention manager, Bill Harris, has seen it all before. All Romney has to do is show up and say the right things better than he has ever said them before.
Romney can use the convention as a transition; the primary campaign was a shoestring operation with a multi-candidate, ragged field. The interregnum has had growing pains and has had to survive an Obama onslaught. The convention will allow Romney to start fresh in his attempt to do what he must do: Present himself as someone who is credible as a president and who has an economic plan that people understand, so that when voters decide they need to do something different, he will be acceptable.