Politico’s Alexander Burns, on the Romney campaign’s announcement today that it will be rolling out more specifics on the campaign trail — something that many news outlets are describing as a strategic shift:
The Romney campaign announced Monday that the Republican presidential ticket will start to home in more on the specifics of their policy proposals on the campaign trail.
But on a conference call with reporters, Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said flatly that there would not be any new policy ideas coming from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. They’ll be focused, Gillespie said, on laying out the details of plans they’ve already announced.
Voters “are eager to hear more details about policies to turn our economy around,” Gillespie said.
Asked if that meant Romney would answer longstanding questions about how he would pay for his tax reform plans and which government agencies he would cut or merge, Gillespie punted.
“We’re not rolling out new policy,” he said, so much as moving to “reinforce more specifics.”
The Romney camp did hint that there may be more detail on energy and perhaps on which government agencies he will streamline or eliminate, but even that was noncommittal, according to Burns’ report. So, look, there is no genuine strategic shift here at all. The campaign does not appear to believe that it actually needs to get more detailed about Romney’s policy vision than he has in the past. It just needs to do a better job communicating the details it has already shared. The policies themselves are fine; they haven’t been adequately communicated to voters.
But Romney’s proposals have, in fact, been profoundly lacking in specificity, on everything from his tax plan to his vow to deeply cut spending to what, if anything, he’d replace Obamacare with, among other things. If the Romney camp really thinks this is good enough, it may be sticking with its basic theory of the race — Romney can still win by making this all about the Obama economy while clearing the most basic threshold of acceptability. As I noted below, the key to discerning whether the Romney camp has actually rethought its basic assumptions will lie in whether he actually does offer something new in the way of policy detail. We now have our answer. Of course, the Romney campaign may be right: Offering more detail about Romney’s policy intentions may not be a good move, either, since a fuller understanding of those intentions may make voters recoil.
By the way: I think the obituaries for this campaign are way, way premature. There are still seven weeks to go; and as John Heilemann reports, “the litany of potential exogenous shocks,” from the “collapse of the eurozone to a hot conflict between Israel and Iran to a succession of brutal jobs reports," continues to keep Obama advisers “tossing and twitching in their beds at night.” As well they should; this race could still go either way. But if Romney does lose, the campaign’s most basic assumptions may go down as the cause.