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July 16, 2012

Top Headline Comments 7-16-12

Happy Monday.

I got off the plane last night to find that a few people on blogs, twitter, and radio had been calling for Romney to go on offense, both in general and over the President's Bain trutherism in particular. Now, I'd generally been keeping an eye on politics while I was on vacation, so this seemed like a new attack on Romney from supposed allies and a peculiarly silly one. There are a few responses.

First, Romney has obviously been on offense. The campaign has been laudably focused on hitting the President where it hurts him most with voters: the economy. The same hard-hitting message discipline that laid his primary opponents low has kept the President's numbers static for a month, despite Obama's giant, largely unanswered, ad blitz. For two months running, Obama has spent more money attacking Romney than he's raised and it hasn't helped Obama's poll numbers.

Part of that is the phenomenally fast response team Romney and the RNC have put together. They're out ahead of Obama on almost every issue that matters to voters and when the latest distraction from Team Obama arises (gay marriage, DREAM, Bain) they're on top of it with outreach to media, bloggers, and directly to voters. The Romney campaign is doing a great job compared to the other side.

When it comes to the Bain trutherism, Romney pushed back hard last week, with multiple interviews, several surrogates striking back, and coordinated outreach to media and bloggers pointing out that Obama has been the Outsourcer-in-Chief. So the myth being peddled that Romney isn't or wasn't on offense doesn't even have the ring of truth.

Second, to the extent that being "on offense" is being equated with running expensive attack ads like the President is doing, there is no conceivable point. Obama's numbers are not on the rise. He's spending millions for no point. It would be one thing if the Bain trutherism were taking a toll on Romney or pumping up Obama's numbers. But the President's national approval numbers have been basically unchanged for a month. A majority of voters have never heard of Bain and likely won't.

The Romney campaign is doing the smart thing and holding fire until it really counts: the last eight weeks of the campaign. It would be one thing if it looked like the President's campaign was getting traction. But so long as it's not, Romney needs to stick with the plan: focus on the issue that matters most to voters, the economy. Blowing his campaign cash now would be pointlessly premature.

The "go on offense" freakout seems at root to be a crisis of confidence. Yes, it's frustrating that the President is a lying liar who makes stupid irrelevant lies about our candidate. But that's no reason to go off half-cocked and waste a lot of effort for little return. The Romney response to the Bain trutherism has been appropriate. Engaging any more on that ground would be just what Obama wants.

It's quite simple. The Democrats have nothing else to run on. Obama would be more than happy to make the rest of the campaign, all four months, be about Romney and Bain. I don't see any benefit to indulging him in that.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 07:08 AM

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