Is Mitt Romney’s run for president being hampered by some basic problems of message discipline? And can a new hire help address that?
Romney himself has been a chief culprit, committing repeated gaffes that have suggested he’s out-of-touch with the lives of ordinary Americans. (Remember “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners,” or, “I like being able to fire people”?). And we all saw when a top Romney aide invoked an Etch-a-Sketch to argue that the hard-fought GOP primary hasn’t hurt his boss’s chances in the general – furthering the existing knock on Romney as a shape-shifter.
On Friday’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough said these are errors good campaigns don’t make. “You look at George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000, you didn’t have aides making these Etch-a-Sketch mistakes,” he said, adding: “The only thing I’ve heard about Romney’s people is, they fight each other and they hate the press.”
Scarborough said he’s hoping that Ed Gillespie -- the former lobbyist, RNC chair, and Bush White House official brought on this week as a top adviser to the campaign -- can help get Team Romney on message.
“I hope, as a Republican that’s tired of seeing my party shoot itself in the foot, that Romney’s giving Gillespie the power to tell everyone else: ‘Hey guys, shut up. The candidate will talk and you’ll keep your mouths shut,’” said Scarborough.
David Gregory, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, thinks Gillespie could be crucial in getting the campaign to focus on the issues and voter blocs it needs to. “What Romney really wants to do, and where I think Gillespie will help, is get into a general election mode where he can start to address some of these things he wants to address,” Gregory told the panel. “Which is the problem with swing voters, the problem with female voters, the problem with Latino voters.”
But the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward said all the talk of message discipline might end up being a sideshow if real-world events intrude. Woodward noted that both the economy – which added a disappointing jobs total for March, we learned Friday morning – and the international situation are unstable right now.
“We may look back at this campaign,” said Woodward, "and say it’s the events that drive it, not the David Axelrods or the Ed Gillespies.”
True enough. But it's so much more fun to talk about campaign strategy.