You heard it here first. Actually, second. Via InstaP:
Obama campaign deputy manager Stephanie Cutter:
“[W]e’re coming into this debate very realistic that Mitt Romney is likely to win if he plays his cards right. If he performs and fills in those details and has that [conversation] with the American people, instead of having, you know, a punching match and just leveling insults at the President like he’s done over the past two years. If he fills in his policy details, talks in specifics about his plans for the future he could win this debate.”
In other words, if Romney doesn’t get in his own way, doesn’t play dirty, and argues his case and the facts, he wins on his merits and the Obama presidency’s lack of them.
Now, Elizabeth Price Foley at InstaP thinks it’s a Rope-a-Dope, to goad Romney into throwing all the punches, committing to policy prescriptions that the Obama campaign can easily dismantle if not demagogue. She prefers Romney to treat the Obama presidency as a punching bag:
1. A complete inability/unwillingness to own up to the threat of the “t” word– terrorism
2. A complete disconnect with the desires of the American public re: health care reform
3. A dangerous policy of downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat at the expense of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East and one of America’s closest (and most important) allies
4. An utter disregard for the Constitution, as evidenced by executive orders that completely undercut the legislative branch
5. A completely failing economy, by any measure you prefer– jobs, GDP, median household income, deficits, downgraded credit rating, etc.
I like both strategies meself, although not exactly these particular points. I think Mitt will take it slow and display aggression only when needed—the one thing he learned in quietly losing to McCain in 2008—sometimes you have to hit back, and when you do you hit back hard. Mitt did it this time around to his primary challengers in 2012: when one rose up he smacked him down, with deadly force.
I think Mitt’s mastered his temperament, that huffing and puffing eager beaver gasping for air as he says too much instead of a confident too little.
This is Mitt’s first time on the Big Stage, The Really Big Stage, for all the marbles. Primaries and conventions ain’t spit. This time, the whole world is watching, not just the malignly curious and the Values Voters who leave Fox News on in the den or in the kitchen 24/7.
It’s a pity the US presidency comes down to acting ability, but political leadership has always been so. George Washington had his uniforms tailored and rode a big white horse. FDR was the jaunty cigarette holder, the aristocrat who loved the common man—and could win for him. Churchill the speechifying bulldog was an act that saved the world; de Gaulle admitted that archetypical Frenchman was a character he created. Reagan, the Aw Shucks president, Clinton the amiable bumpkin with an IQ of 165, Bush43 the cowboy boots ex-drunk who saw through all the BS; Barack Obama, our FBP with two autobios under his belt before he’d done anything besides get born, go to school, and drift about a bit trying to find himself.
The funny thing is that Mitt the Mormon is really a lot like those stories they ginned up about George Washington. If you heard that Mitt Romney chopped down a cherry tree and copped to it when his dad pressed him on it, you’d believe it.
And find it boring as hell. I don’t know if the joke is on him or on us.
“[W]e’re coming into this debate very realistic that Mitt Romney is likely to win if he plays his cards right.”
Just play ’em straight, Mitt. It’s the only thing you have going for you, and hey, it might just be enough.