The Washington Post

In Tampa: A rally or a gaffe-a-thon?

With the Republican National Convention convening Monday, both parties have high hopes.  Republicans want a powerful, successful launch that gives clarity, unity and momentum to the fall campaign. Democrats want mistakes and gaffes that can supply the distractions that are central to the Obama campaign plan. Advantage Obama.

The convention in Tampa will be a target-rich environment for the Democrats and their allies in the media to find an off-message GOP convention participant.  I assume that every afternoon at the Obama campaign headquarters there is a meeting to review the craziest things said that day by anyone who can be called a Republican leader. It is then the mission of the campaign to enhance and extrapolate each comment as an out-of-touch, yet widely held, Republican-Romney-Ryan belief that should alarm any thinking voter.

Conventions are heavily scripted and the media don’t 't like to follow the script. Everyone wants original content and coverage. No one is willing to just repeat what the GOP/Romney machine gives him. So the hunt will be on for news, the more off-message the better.

The last week is a good example of how bizarre things can be and the lengths to which Republicans will go to supply the Obama campaign with the distractions President Obama needs. It was revealed that while on official business, a Republican member of Congress thought it was a good idea to get naked and jump into the Sea of Galilee in front of plenty of witnesses, and, of course, congressman Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate from Missouri, said what could be the worst/dumbest thing said in the entire 2012 cycle. I won't even repeat it.

But my point is that it will take a lot of message discipline and sure-footedness to deprive Obama of the life blood that we Republicans have been supplying. In the political realm, where bad gets worse, Republicans have current trends working against them. It will take a lot of hard work and plenty of good luck for the convention to avoid becoming the gaffe-a-thon that the left would like to leverage.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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