Everyone has some kind of advice for Romney and Obama tonight. I have some advice too, but it can go beyond tonight.
Romney needs to do well from Scranton to Sioux City among blue collar white voters, the very same subset of voters that turned against Obama in the 2008 primaries and in the 2010 midterms. His 47 percent remarks, his stiffness, Mormon faith, and private equity background make him as much an alien to these voters as any imagined Kenyan socialist.
Romney should talk about his history at Bain and Company and Bain Capital. If you read The Real Romney you find that Romney had his largest successes when he realigned the incentives of executives with those of workers and the longterm health of the company as a whole.
As this magazine has argued, our elites no longer see their interests as aligned with those of the commonwealth of the nation. We need someone to realign them.
Imagine if Romney said, “I agree with president Obama that America prospers most when it prospers together, when investors and workers rise together. But under his administration the six largest banks have only gotten larger and they retain the implicit guarantee of a taxpayer-funded bailout if their executives are reckless again. Wall Street is doing great, but unemployment is stuck above 8 percent. Wages are stagnant. Millions are underwater on their mortgages. One class gets special carveouts, and when they fail, the American people get stuck with the bill. Obama promised to bring us together, instead we’re growing further apart. We don’t need Washington trying to micro-manage every industry, doling out loans, guarantees, and subsidies for political reasons. We need to create a stable set of rules that allows everyone to prosper together.”
Is it an airtight case? No, a debate doesn’t stand for that. Does it lack specific policies? You betcha, but we’re late in the game for that. But it is at least a plausible story about where America is right now and why Romney may be the man for the moment.
Also I know it isn’t hard-hitting scoopy jounrnalism, but check out this little article I wrote for ESPN magazine about the Romney clan and their competitive sports-filled vacations.