In these early days of the election cycle, Romney is playing the role of Ali and the press is Foreman. Although it’s easy for us political obsessives to forget, there can be no knockouts a year before Iowa. The flip-side of that coin is also informative â€“ Howard Dean had a perfect 2003 and wound up a distant also ran to political titans like John Kerry and John Edwards.
The press and other entities who are hostile to the Romney campaign feel like they’re landing haymakers about his purported flip-flopping. Big deal. When the press is all punched out, Romney will have $100 million and his own formidable political skills available to make his rebuttal. ~Dean Barnett
This is certainly wishful thinking, as Jim Antle notes, and it comes off sounding a bit like someone in the 7th Cavalry saying, “Well, General, it looks like we have them right where we want them.” To believe this, we would have to assume that the blows that have been landed so far are not really devastating blows. Apparently getting hit with two op-eds declaring him to be a fraud in a nationally circulated newspaper and suffering from a viral video outbreak are good for a candidate’s chances.
We would also have to assume that these things will not continue to haunt his candidacy all the way through the primaries. Most people don’t even know who Romney is yet, and someone will have to tell them. Political junkies can fool themselves into thinking that some stories are already old news, when most people haven’t even heard about them. These revelations will enjoy second, third and fourth incarnations in an election season this long. For many primary voters, these stories about Romney’s flip-flopping will seem brand new next winter and spring.
The media will have to reiterate several times all of the stories about Romney’s multiple position changes, and then they will run the feature stories about evangelicals who don’t want to vote for Mormons and the network and cable news will start running these tapes of Romney’s old statements on a regular basis. The 24-hour news cycle demands journalistic busywork, and the blogosphere never sleeps. The resources of corporate and independent media are vast, and Romney is just one deeply flawed candidate. Dean got the kid-glove treatment and enjoyed a relatively decent relationship with the media. He stumbled not because of negative press coverage (prior to the Scream, did he actually have any negative press coverage?), but because his organisation was weak and he couldn’t get people to turn out for him when it came time to vote. A blogger’s love is very different from the love of a voter, as Mike Judge might say.
Romney has his loyal supporters among Republican bloggers and activists, and they can help slow the bleeding, but it cannot help that all of this negative publicity has scarcely raised his national visibility at all. He is getting hammered (and rightly so), but he’s not even getting that much free coverage for all the damage he’s taking. Ask George Allen if having The Washington Post on your case is the secret of electoral success, Romneyites, and then get back to me.