Romney thinks its 2012 already, and his focus isn't on deficits

By Jonathan Bradley in Newcastle, Australia

4 August 2011

Congress might have spent its summer worrying about the debt ceiling and the deficit, but Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney knows that the real issue in 2012 is going to be jobs. This is an impressive commercial from Romney. He takes the country's problems and situates them on President Barack Obama's Chicago doorstep, transforming the enthusiasm of 2008 into a story of dashed hopes. Dave Weigel observes that it's a general election ad, not a primary one. Romney's rival Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is still boasting of her opposition to raising the debt ceiling, after the deal's been done and the bill's been signed. As Weigel rhetorically asks, though, "Who is this voter who's going to cast a November 2012 vote based on which presidential candidate wanted to hike the debt limit?"

That doesn't mean Bachmann's strategy is foolish. Romney is campaigning as if he's already got the nomination because he thinks his best shot at gaining the GOP nod is to make his candidacy look inevitable. That was the tactic both John McCain and Hillary Clinton used in 2008, and neither was able to avoid stumbling along the way, though McCain, of course, recovered. Romney will hope that Republicans predilection for going with whoever's next in line will work to his advantage.

Bachmann, meanwhile, has to talk about things that the Republican base cares about but the rest of the country does not — and the debt ceiling was an excellent example of such an issue. But whether it turns out to be her who ends up gaining the Republican nomination, or Romney, or someone else entirely, the pitch during the general election will look a lot like Romney's ad above. Congress has finally decided to shift its attention to unemployment. It's a poor look for them to be having to play catch-up to Mitt.

Tags: Barack Obama, Chicago, Jobs, Mitt Romney, Republican Party, Republican Primary 2012, Unemployment

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