Mitt Romney needs a good speech in Tampa like George H.W. Bush needed one in New Orleans in 1988. I was there as Lee Atwater's deputy. Peggy Noonan had not shared much about her work on the speech, so we didn't know what we would hear, but we knew it needed to be a huge hit. That speech transformed George H.W. Bush, and he was never viewed as Ronald Reagan's understudy again. It ended a lot of problems for Bush and put him on the path to victory.
I don't expect a speech tonight that will have an impact in the same way the 1988 speech did for Bush. Actually, Romney couldn't put the election away tonight if he promised universal immortality, and he couldn't lose it tonight if he fell to the floor speaking in tongues. This election will still mostly be about President Obama. But, a great speech sure would help. Big time.
It is widely accepted that Romney has to do something to "connect"; he has to give a speech that makes him "likable." I guess he does — even though this morning's Gallup poll shows that Obama and Romney are not that far apart on favorability. Today's poll puts Romney's favorability at 48 percent and his unfavorables at 4 percent. That compares with the president, who has a 53 percent favorability score and 48 percent unfavorables. But I don't get it. I don't understand Romney's lower favorability and I don't understand Obama's higher popularity ratings.
Sorry, I can't help it; I see Obama as condescending and smug. This goes back to his insulting comments about how the little people in America cling to their guns and religion through to his more recent insult to business people by refusing them credit for building their businesses. It's hard to believe the gall of his selfish gift registry, and did everyone see his idea of a tribute to Neil Armstrong? Obama released a dramatic picture of . . . himself.
I understand that Romney has said a few things he wishes he could take back. We all remember the $10,000 bet and Ann's two Cadillacs. We know he is rich. But I see him as a successful, energetic, good-natured soul without an ego. Romney is sunny and happy. And those are two words you never hear used to describe Obama. Anyway, I accept the conventional wisdom that Obama is the likable one, but I still don't get it. Oh, by the way, before the GOP convention ends, I wish we would really focus on the Obama-induced economic calamity that is sinking this nation. Every poll — and every pol — will tell you that it is the economy that will influence voters. Yet the economy hasn't really been brought front and center in Tampa so far.
I like Romney. Tonight I want to hear how he will bring his remarkable experience in the private sector to the White House to solve our economic problems. I want to hear about the strength he gets from his faith and his family, and how he will use that to defeat the creeping economic dependency that Obama is pushing on Americans. I want to see Romney's good-natured humility and even a little bit of the shyness that he portrays when he is in front of cheering crowds. His demeanor offers a vivid contrast to Obama's pretentious, phony posing.
Good luck, Mitt Romney. Break a leg.