A number of things happened this week that may have a lasting impact, and some events shaped the environment that will affect all the campaigns in the near-term:
Mitt Romney proved to be steady, taking mistakes and other campaign ups and downs in stride. His odd visit to a Ohio GOP phone bank didn’t have legs, and this week’s public opinion polls were good for donor and grassroots recruitment
Herman Cain withstood exposure to the spotlight longer than expected. In fact, he could do no wrong. The bizarre ad with the hired hand pledging his commitment to the candidate while smoking a cigarette in front of what appeared to be a prison received some coverage suggesting that it was uninhibited, freestyle genius rather than vain idiocy. In politics, good gets better.
Rick Perry deflated quickly, and there are already rumors of budget problems. His campaign is not low on money, but it didn’t hit the fundraising number budgeted just three weeks ago. Perry reshuffled his staff, announced an economic plan, stumbled into the birther asylum and volunteered that he might avoid future debates. If the strategy is to hide and let advertising do the dirty work, why announce it? It’s way too early to suggest a fatal flaw in his campaign, but let’s just say that more of the same is undesirable.
The Dow has been a wild ride in recent months but Thursday’s surge took some pressure off President Obama at a moment when everything appeared to be going wrong. The Obama team is due to catch a break. But Obama has adopted the opposite of a Rose-Garden strategy. Instead of using the White House and the convening power of the presidency to highlight his qualities as America’s leader, he is in full campaign mode: meeting with high-profile fundraisers in Hollywood and Vegas, appearing on Leno, shouting at Republicans. It isn’t very flattering, and, even trying to give his wise handlers the benefit of the doubt, I can’t figure it out.
Violence erupted around the Occupy protests. Those peacefully calling for changes to the U.S. financial system are co-mingled with wacky malcontents, perennial fringe causes, committed brawlers and hapless union organizers who are trying to install a veneer of political relevance to the whole mess. Whether the occupiers become a political asset for the Democrats, or a millstone, is very much an open question.