The Washington Post

Lots of folks should be sleeping poorly tonight

Most of the Republican campaign managers for the 2012 candidates could team up for a slumber party since most of them are worried and sleepless about the same thing. That is, at the current trajectory, their candidates are going to lose.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney has to worry about how he can close the deal. Newt Gingrich has to worry that no other Republican candidate for state or federal office wants him to be atop the ticket. Ron Paul is different. He and his team sleep fine, they know they are on track. The Paul movement isn’t really about winning anything. They think it would be great if they did, but, to many Paul supporters, winning just proves you’ve sold out.

Bachmann, Cain, Perry — they’ve all had their moments but they know that time is their enemy. They are mostly out of money and they don’t control their destiny. Santorum and Huntsman don’t know what happened but they aren’t delusional; they know they need some big, external event that is a game-changer.

Newt has the bigger challenge that should make him toss and turn. He actually needs some grass-roots establishment support. The establishment knows Newt and they worry he could drive the ticket off a cliff. He needs to prove he is reliable to other party leaders. Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio — name your price!

Romney’s team has done a PowerPoint presentation on why their man isn’t beloved, but even a great PowerPoint won’t finish the competition. Losing the Union Leader’s endorsement is a minus, but having former New Hampshire governor John Sununu on your side is better. He is the perfect player to handle Newt. Do everything the former governors says. Don’t ask any questions. Get some sleep.

Carter may address Obama’s situation later, but if the president has any advisers who secretly haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid, they are sleepless about how to tell Obama and his group of enablers that he has some serious problems and real weaknesses.

Who can tell Obama that he talks too much, that his serious, detached demeanor doesn’t work anymore. People want results and getting bin Laden was great, but reelection in 2012 is about the economy. Nobody thinks he can execute. What are his affirmative reasons for deserving reelection? What is the second-term plan if he wins? We know the campaign plan is to go negative and hope for a conservative third-party candidate, but if that doesn’t work perfectly, Obama will still need a large percentage of voters who are for him and not just against the other side.

I’ve heard from a few veterans of Team Obama that the president doesn’t encourage anyone to challenge his biases and those closest to him will consider it a disloyal power grab if anyone tries to talk about the elephants in the room.

Please, Obama supporters, tell me the three big economic initiatives that Obama will pursue if he is reelected ? What will be the effect of those programs? Keep it short. Lee Atwater used to say, if your campaign plan can’t fit on one side of a 3-by-5 card, you won’t win.

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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