Hark! Democrats and Republicans agree: Their respective candidate for president needs to get more specific about what he will actually do as president over the next four years. And they are right.
President Obama and Mitt Romney will be giving dueling speeches on the economy today in Ohio. The stakes are higher for Obama, whose stewardship of the economy is at issue. Folks are hungry to know where he would lead them in a second term. But that doesn’t let Romney off the hook for getting specific about his economic plans for a first term.
Unlike others, I think the president has been pretty clear and consistent in spelling out how the nation got into this mess, what he has done and has been trying to do pull the country out of it, and what the obstacles have been to an even better recovery. But Michael Tomasky, in an otherwise cranky piece calling on Sasha and Malia to get their father a spine for Father’s Day, makes a worthwhile suggestion. Obama must make Romney talk about the specifics of his policy pronouncements. “Obama has to raise them and ask the pointed questions. The press won’t ask unless and until Obama asks. That’s how this works,” Tomasky writes today. “Two weeks of sharp, specific questions and accusations would change the dynamic in a hurry.” And it would get us talking about what a second Obama administration would do to make lives better.
Romney got similar “get-specific” advice from two big supporters on Sunday. “The American people, I think, will rightly demand to know something more than he’s not President Obama,” Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) counseled Romney: “The ‘R’ next to the name cannot be just about being Republican. It’s got to be about reformer.” He said he hopes the former Massachusetts governor “goes big and . . . goes bold.”
The only way to do that is to put your proposals on the table and defend the specifics. Both Romney and Obama need to get specific. For Romney, it’s what he’ll do differently than Obama. For the president, it’s what he’ll do differently than in the past four years.