Today's big campaign take-out from Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei involves the Mitt Romney campaign's strategy in the wake of lessons learned from 2008: "Whatever [John] McCain did, do the opposite." Right away, you're thinking, "Well, sure. Doesn't that basically boil down to not picking Sarah Palin as your running mate, and not getting so freaked out at the economy that you start doing irrational things?"
Yes, that's precisely what it boils down to!
Many of the current strategy discussions are centered on not falling into the traps McCain did: looking wobbly as a leader and weak on the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. The private discussions include ruling out any vice presidential possibilities who could be seen as even remotely risky or unprepared; wrapping the entire campaign around economic issues, knowing this topic alone will swing undecided voters in the final days; and, slowly but steadily, building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama.
I might add: do not pointlessly antagonize Spain. But, you know, season for taste.
As McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt said about 2008, McCain ran during "the worst political environment any Republican presidential candidate had every [sic] faced." Romney is running in a more favorable electoral climate, and so there's less need to take a bunch of crazy risks. Of course, in Romney, you have a candidate that's much less inclined toward campaign stunts. As Alex Pareene notes in his "Rude Guide To Mitt," Romney is famously risk-averse:
Here's an odd thing about Mitt Romney, hugely successful capitalist: He's incredibly risk-averse. He is not at all tempted by high-risk, high-reward opportunities. Mitt Romney likes to have all the available data and then take his time making the safest decision possible. So when [Bill] Bain asked him to run Bain Capital, Romney said no, because it was a new venture, and it might not work. So Bain had to promise Romney that if Bain Capital went bust, Romney could have his old job back -- with any raises and bonuses he missed -- and that an elaborate cover story would be invented to protect Romney from the blame. It was only then, once there was never any possibility of a less-than-comfortable end result, that Romney decided to embark on this new adventure.
So don't expect Romney to do something like "suspend his campaign" to go into faux crisis-management mode. (I'm not ruling out the possibility that he will proclaim us all to be Georgians.)
And expect someone very beige in terms of his running mate as well. In fact, one of the more intriguing bits of speculation contained in the Allen/VandeHei treatise is that former Minnesota governor and sometimes-reluctant Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty is sitting pretty solidly on the V.P. shortlist. As you know, my favorite retcon exercise is imagining what might have happened if McCain had opted for Pawlenty instead of Palin. (McCain still would have lost, but America would have been spared a couple of reality television shows and a Game Change movie.)
READ THE WHOLE THING:
Mitt Romney's mantra: Avoid John McCain's mistakes [Politico]
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