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Obama Plan: Destroy Romney

Obama’s campaign plans to portray Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and  ‘weird.’ (Photo credit: AP via Politico)

By Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin Logo
August 9, 2011


Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early-stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee.

The dramatic and unabashedly negative turn is the product of political reality. Obama remains personally popular, but pluralities in recent polling disapprove of his handling of his job, and Americans fear the country is on the wrong track. … And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent.

In a move that will make some Democrats shudder, Obama’s high command has even studied former President George W. Bush’s 2004 takedown of Sen. John Kerry, a senior campaign adviser told POLITICO, for clues on how a president with middling approval ratings can defeat a challenger. …

The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

“First, they’ve got to like you, and there’s not a lot to like about Mitt  Romney,” said Chicago Democratic consultant Pete Giangreco, who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. “There’s no way to hide this guy and hide his innate phoniness.”

A senior Obama adviser was even more cutting, suggesting that the Republican’s personal awkwardness will turn off voters.

“There’s a weirdness factor with Romney, and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public,” the adviser said, noting that the contrasts they’d drive between the president and the former Massachusetts governor would be “based on character to a great extent.”

The second aspect of the campaign to define Romney is his record as CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that was responsible for both creating and eliminating jobs. Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recession — a sort of political Gordon Gekko. …

Romney, currently the front-runner for the Republican nomination, isn’t the candidate Democrats would most like to face. That honor goes to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin or Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, vocal conservatives who may  not be able to reach swing voters. …

Read the full story at Politico



The Obama campaign would be misguided — even Quixotic — if it diverted inordinate resources to fending off Mitt Romney as Barack Obama’s likely opponent. Despite being the early front-runner in public opinion polls, Romney is unlikely to be the Republican presidential nominee — or, if he is, to be a viable challenger to Barack Obama.

The reasons are not just structural — for example, the GOP’s cannibalization by the Tea Party and lurch to the right following Obama’s election — but personal.

Specifically, Romney’s score of 6 on the Personal Electability Index (PEI), which has accurately predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1996, ranks near the bottom among presidential candidates I’ve studied in the past four presidential election cycles — slightly lower than John Kerry’s PEI score of 9 (though considerably better than Al Gore’s -17).

Politico reports that Michele Bachmann is the declared candidate Democrats would most like to face. The Obama campaign should be careful what it wishes for; in personal electability terms, Bachmann’s PEI score, at 29, far exceeds Romney’s and is marginally higher — though statistically equivalent — to President Obama’s PEI score of 28 and nearly as high as George W. Bush’s PEI score of 31.

Following are the PEI scores of selected presidential candidates, rank-ordered from most electable to least electable in terms of personal qualities.

George W. Bush: PEI = 31

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:   11   5    4  16   4    0    0    2   0   0   0   4

Bush: [Extraversion (scale 3) = (16 – 1)] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 5] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 11] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (2 – 2)] = 30

Michele Bachmann: PEI = 29

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:   14   3    5  10  0     0    3    3  0   0   8   0

Bachmann: [Extraversion (scale 3) = 10] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 5] + [Dominance (scale 1A) = 14] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (3 – 3)] = 29

Barack Obama: PEI = 28

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:   10   6   11  9    7     1    2    5   4    1   0   4

Obama: [Extraversion (scale 3) = 9] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 11] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 10] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 1] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (5 – 4)] = 28

John Kerry: PEI = 9

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:    6    6    7   0   3    0    3     5   2   3   0   0

Kerry: [Extraversion (scale 3) = 0] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 7] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 6] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 3] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (5 – 4)] = 9

Mitt Romney: PEI = 6

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:    7    4    5   2   4    0     3   12   1   0  4    4

Romney: [Extraversion (scale 3) = 2] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 5] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 7] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 0] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (12 – 4)] = 6

Al Gore: PEI = –17

Scale:   1A  1B   2   3   4   5A  5B   6   7   8   9   0
Score:    8   2    3    1   4     1    3   22  5   11  12  0

Gore: [Extraversion (scale 3) = 1] + [Narcissism (scale 2) = 3] + [Dominance (scale 1) = 8] – [Introversion (scale 8) = 11] – [Conscientiousness (scale 6) = (22 – 4)] = –17


Related reports on this site

Click on image for larger view

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Be President — In Theory (Oct. 29, 2012)

Predicting the Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election (Aug. 2, 2011)

Why Mitt Romney Won’t Win: The Personal Electability Index (May 12, 2011)

Personality Matters: Mitt Romney Has Al Gore Problem (Jan. 16, 2012)

Mitt Romney’s Leadership Style (Sept. 3, 2012)

Mitt Romney Personality Profile (June 2, 2011)

Tim Pawlenty Personality Profile (June 16, 2011)

Michele Bachmann Personality Profile (June 13, 2011)

Barack Obama’s Personality Profile (Nov. 2, 2008)


12/9/2011 Update

Dem Campaign Means Two-Front War for Mitt Romney

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pictured in Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2011. (Photo credit: The Associated Press via Politico)

By Alexander Burnsand Maggie Haberman Logo
December 8, 2011


If Newt Gingrich ends up as the Republican presidential nominee, he may have the Democrats to thank for it.

For nearly two months now, Democrats have pummeled Gingrich’s top primary rival — Mitt  Romney — with a relentless stream of character attacks, casting him as a soulless political flip-flopper in Web videos, press conferences and paid television ads. Only in the past few days have Obama allies bothered to address Gingrich’s rocket-like ascent in the polls.

What began in October with a hastily announced Obama campaign press call — during which David  Axelrod attacked Romney as a “stunningly inconsistent” politician — has grown into a sustained, daily campaign to tear down the former Massachusetts governor.

The Democrats’ pre-emptive anti-Mitt push is a genuinely unusual phenomenon in presidential politics. While it’s not unusual to see parties taking some early shots at their political  opponents — even during the primary process — such a protracted, harsh messaging effort has no precedent in recent years. …

The Romney campaign has publicly welcomed the assault on their candidate, and there is a sizable school of thought in both parties that says the attacks on Romney have largely served to elevate him in the Republican primary. …

Still, to some, the Democratic offensive looks like a cynical attempt to choose a weak opponent for a vulnerable president — a clear departure from the respectful brand of politics Obama pledged to practice.

But Democrats privately admit that the White House has viewed Romney as the most threatening top-tier candidate in the GOP field, and feared the pull-all-punches primary was letting him essentially skate by without being defined. …

Even Democrats who believe they have managed to put Romney on the defensive over character issues remain unsure just how bloodied he is in the Republican primary. While Romney is clearly struggling in his duel with Gingrich, Democrats quietly acknowledge they are still preparing to face Romney — whom they view as far more formidable — in the general election.

But if there’s even a small chance that early attacks are making life difficult for him with GOP primary voters, Democrats believe their continued meddling is worthwhile — especially now that Romney foes such as Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman are hitting him with a similar message from the right.

“The attacks from both the right and the left have together been so effective because they’ve squared up perfectly, really mirror images of each other,” said Democratic strategist Jim Jordan. “It’s all an attack on character, authenticity, and it’s worked because it’s based in truth, Republican voters instinctively agree.”

Steve Lombardo, a former pollster for Romney’s 2008 campaign who now heads the consulting firm StrategyOne, said it was “brilliant” for Democrats to force Romney into a “two-front war.”

“If they derail Romney, then they get a more conservative candidate,” Lombardo said. “If Romney wins, they’ll have substantially damaged him in the eyes of many voters and laid out a narrative that Romney doesn’t have a core. That’s gonna be difficult for Romney to overcome.” …

Gingrich, for his part, says he’s only too happy to see the Democratic message machine keeping Romney pinned down.

“I am perfectly happy for the Obama people to decide they want to beat up on Romney. That’s a little tough on Romney but that’s fine by me,” he said on CNN on Wednesday. …

Read the full story at Politico


2/18/2012 Update

“Rick Santorum’s surprising momentum at a critical stage in the presidential race has forced the Obama campaign to reassess its reelection strategy, which for months has revolved around the likelihood that Mitt Romney would end up as the president’s Republican rival.”

Obama Campaign Turns Attention to Santorum

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, seen here speaking at a rally in Oklahoma City, Feb. 9, 2012, has emerged as Mitt Romney’s leading challenger for the GOP presidential nomination. (Photo credit: Eric Gay / AP via The Washington Post — View photo gallery)

By Sandhya Somashekhar

February 17, 2012


Rick Santorum’s surprising momentum at a critical stage in the presidential race has forced the Obama campaign to reassess its reelection strategy, which for months has revolved around the likelihood that Mitt Romney would end up as the president’s Republican rival.

Obama’s Chicago-based reelection team has begun digging into Santorum’s background, diverting opposition researchers who thus far had been focused on Romney. …

Though campaign officials still view Romney as the likely nominee, they have begun to consider the implications of a Santorum victory. They view him as a weaker general election opponent, but one who has shown an ability to connect with the population that is most disillusioned with Obama: white, blue-collar voters.

“Looking at the way the Republican race is unfolding, we’d be derelict if we didn’t begin looking at Santorum as a real potential opponent,” said Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign. “We hadn’t been doing that, but circumstances have changed.”

Santorum … has centered his message on his social conservatism and blue-collar roots. But he has also tried to address his biggest weakness — the perception that Romney would do better against Obama. …

Santorum’s campaign further tried to reinforce his electability message by announcing  Friday that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who previously had endorsed Romney, was switching his support to Santorum because he believed he could win against Obama. …

Democratic strategists say they long had prepared for a winding and unpredictable Republican primary race, but Santorum’s surge caught them by surprise, partly because they did not expect Romney to face such a difficult path to the nomination. …

Read the full story at the Washington Post



One Year Ago — August 9, 2010

Tom Horner for Minnesota Governor

One year ago today, I appealed to Minnesota voters to support Independent Tom Horner for governor in the August 10, 2010 primary election.


Two Years Ago — August 9, 2009

Cheney Profile in the Works

Two years ago today, on August 9, 2009, I announced the impending release of the results of a study of the political personality of former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, conducted at the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics.


Three Years Ago — August 9, 2008

Campaign Against Michele Bachmann: Day 26

Three years ago today, on August 9, 2008 — the 26th day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District — I kicked off my 100-mile walking tour of the Sixth District from Freeport in the northwest to Stillwater in the southeastern corner of the district, on the Wisconsin border. I also posted a public service announcement to help draw attention to the sacrifice of National Guard citizen soldiers serving in Iraq and the families they leave behind.

7 Responses to “Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Mitt Romney Personality Profile Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Personality Matters: Mitt Romney Has Al Gore Problem Says:

    […] Dana Milbank’s opinion of Mitt Romney’s personological shortcomings as a presidential candidate is the most insightful I’ve seen in the mainstream media. As I wrote elsewhere in this blog on Aug. 9, 2011, Mitt Romney — despite being the early front-runner in public opinion polls — is unlikely to be the Republican presidential nominee but, if he is, will not emerge as a viable challenger to Barack Obama as a presidential candidate. […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Rick Santorum Personality Profile Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

  4. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Mitt Romney’s Leadership Style Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

  5. Immelman vs. Bachmann » Blog Archive » Why Mitt Romney Won’t Win Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

  6. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Why Mitt Romney Won’t Be President — In Theory Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

  7. The Immelman Turn » Blog Archive » Why Donald Trump Beats Jeb Bush: The Personal Electability Index Says:

    […] Obama Campaign Tilting at Romney Windmill (Aug. 9, 2011) […]

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