The headlining bout: Barack Obama v. Mitt Romney, scheduled for Nov. 6, 2012, with an entire summer (and majority of the fall) left for the hype of campaigning.
We can all let off a little sigh now that we’re sure who the competitors are. Everyone seemed to figure that Romney would be the eventual Republican nominee, but his fits and starts, a few mistakes and the general lack of national enthusiasm for his campaign always gave off that little well, maybe… seed of doubt in the back of the nation’s collective mind, all the way up until Rick Santorum dropped out last week.
So, now – barring a catastrophic scandal or earth-shattering act of God, Romney will be the Republican nominee. Can he win? Sure. Will he? Well, that’s up in the air. There are three basic things he’s got to do to have a chance at winning:
· Pick a good vice president – As anyone who watched HBO’s excellent “Game Change” movie knows, picking a vice president is a tricky proposition. McCain needed to make a splash, and he did – the choice of Palin provided an immediate jump in the polls and some much-needed life for his campaign. Then, of course, came the Katie Couric interview, the Tina Fey parody and a serious of disastrous appearances, and the selection turned into a liability. Meanwhile, Obama made a safe, unsexy pick with Joe Biden, a solid, affable campaigner who helped him in the Midwest, and didn’t hurt his campaign. We all know how the selections turned out.
What’s Romney to do? The safe, conservative-friendly selection would be a man like Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who made little noise in the nomination race months ago. The aggressive, move-to-the-center choice would be Chris Christie, the rotund but charismatic New Jersey governor who would be considered too liberal by many on the right. As the old knight from Last Crusade would say to Mitt, “choose wisely.”
· Connect with the public – Romney is an effective debater but a poor public speaker, coming across as stiff and the absolute, consummate politician. He’s going to have to avoid those situations and do something to lighten up his image. Maybe an appearance on Saturday Night Live to jest with spot-on imitator Jason Sudeikis () It might be good for a laugh, which would go a long way.
· Attack Obama’s weak points – Economy, economy, economy. If Romney keeps hammering Obama on that (and sprinkling in the energy / fuel prices jab) there’s a good chance his message will stick. See this Huffington Post article for proof.