President Obama can’t make the election about the economy in the way Carter suggests. He’s on the defensive on just about every front on economic issues I don’t think Obama can or will have a bold new economic agenda — it would look silly. He won’t be credible. Obama has no choice but to try and make people afraid of Mitt Romney and Republican economic plans.
There is a segment of independent voters I call the “working worried.” They have a job, but they fear that their economic present and future are very fragile; that a thin string holds them above the abyss of poverty. Obama will need to play on these fears. His challenge will be that Romney is not a frightening character, and there’s nothing in his past or in his persona that suggests he is a cruel and indifferent Ebenezer Scrooge.
Lee Atwater used to say that if your campaign plan didn’t fit on a 3x5 card, you probably couldn’t win. I think Obama’s campaign plan probably consists of two words: “fear” and “distraction.” Induce more fear among the working worried and distract everyone else from analyzing or thinking about the Obama economic record so far.
The politics of personal destruction will not be easy with Mitt Romney. As Newt Gingrich said, he hit Romney as hard as he could. It’s safe to say Rick Santorum did the same thing. I will acknowledge that an attack from Santorum and Gingrich was a minor-league sparring demonstration compared to what Obama can deliver. But Romney is stronger as a result of the primaries. It’ll be interesting to see how the Obama forces deal with the fact that Romney is a good-natured, well-rounded, non-threatening, smart and honest man.