Obama advisers have taken considerable flak for the Bain attacks but point out that they have spent very little money to force what has become a national conversation about Romney’s business experience. And, they say, they will put additional money behind the attacks.
“We know it resonates,” said another top Obama adviser, who declined to be identified in order to speak candidly about strategy. “The campaign wouldn’t be doing it if it didn’t. It’s not like they took a flier on it.”
Romney advisers expressed surprise early Thursday over the latest attacks from the Obama campaign. One top Romney adviser called the shift the latest evidence of a “haphazard” message strategy that is missing the mark by a wide margin.
Romney’s week — a moment finally to celebrate clinching the GOP nomination after what became a grinding primary experience — has been marred by Donald Trump’s attention-grabbing comments on the long-settled issue of whether Obama was born in the United States. The Republican presidential candidate did not want to offend the host of a multimillion-dollar fundraiser in Las Vegas, and so tried to step gingerly around the controversy without condemning Trump, but still got caught in the fallout.
Even many Republicans winced over Trump’s behavior, but some of them believe that this will pass without doing serious damage to Romney. GOP strategists see the Romney campaign rightly focused on fending off attacks against Bain by going after the Obama administration’s hefty investment into the now bankrupt solar company Solyndra. At the least, they think it muddies the debate over private equity and sets up the argument over fixing the economy as government versus the private sector.
Romney has but one basic strategy, which is to persuade voters that Obama doesn’t have what it takes to get the economy moving again. They know that Obama is not disliked by many of the swing voters who will decide the election; some of those voters no doubt supported Obama in 2008.
With videos, television ads and the candidate’s and surrogates’ words, the Romney campaign is trying to say that the suffering continues, the president had his chance and the economy won’t get significantly better in the next four years without a new president.
Current polls show the race as close. Both sides expect them to remain that way. The electoral map still looks a little easier for Obama than Romney, but not comfortably so. There will be many distractions, some of them real and others manufactured, in the coming months. But the two campaigns believe most of those distractions will prove to be noise in the system. Meanwhile, they have game plans, and they are starting to execute them.