Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Would you use an app that tells you the partisan affiliation of products you're considering buying?

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

The Insiders
Posted at 08:04 AM ET, 10/22/2012

What Obama needs in the final debate

The Obama campaign's current trajectory is not good. The president has to assume that if he doesn't catch a break or somehow alter the course of the race, he is going to lose this election. The best chance President Obama has to rescue his reelection is tonight's debate. But the subject matter for the debate is foreign policy and everybody knows that foreign policy issues don't drive any votes.

So what should Obama do? He should paint Mitt Romney as a hair-trigger warmonger in such a way that is alarming to the segment of female voters that Obama needs. If it is obvious to me, this thought must have occurred to the smart Obama team days ago. Obama needs to gain ground with some suburban white voters, and white working women are probably his best prospect. It is good campaign politics to try to persuade independent women voters to be against Romney, but the president appears to be going about it in the wrong way.

The Obama campaign overestimated its strength with women voters last summer when it planned what it thought was a successful assault on Romney, using what it considered to be "women's issues."  In fact, all voters care about economic issues, and no voters like to be told that their votes have already been counted.

Obama thought that women voters were all accounted for by pandering to the grievances of the three main groups they have fit women into. The Obama campaign had the dependents like Sandra Fluke; the loud, harsh Democratic stalwarts like Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; and the tired, cliche Hollywood liberals like the ladies of “The View” — while smart, successful women like Dr. Jill Biden were underutilized. A lot of people think Biden has a thoughtful, serious, professional, family-friendly appeal that has been overlooked.

The president is running out of options with women and other key voter groups. People are noticing that he doesn't have much to say and is compensating with gimmicky catchphrases. Obama needs to drop the peevish politics of "Romnesia" or whatever his latest one-liner is. Small-minded, cheap-shot, name-calling is usually more appealing to men than women anyway. Obama's best tactic for this last debate will be to declare that Romney will lead us to war, trying once more to paint him as an unacceptable candidate.  Romney should be ready for the attack that is coming.

By  |  08:04 AM ET, 10/22/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company