Opposites Attract

In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obamasaid that the 2012 election will be "as sharp a contrast between the two parties as we've seen in a generation." While this may be true on the policy front, the campaigns have one key thing in common: Both have hired attack dogs as chief advisors, adding some bite to their candidates' even keel. As GQ's Jason Zengerle writes about Mitt Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom: "The best political operatives are the ones who provide their clients with a tangible quality the candidate himself lacks. If Karl Rove was Bush’s brain, then Fehrnstrom is Romney’s balls." The same might be said for David Axelrod, Obama's closest advisor during the 2008 campaign, and his communications director this go-around. A New York Times profile of Axelrod in 2008 quoted someone saying, "They are sort of a yin-and-yang personality. David can be so much more volatile than Barack."

That said, the Romney campaign is no mirror image of Obama's. While they have similar cogs, Obama's team is well-oiled behemoth; Romney's still working out the kinks. If anything, the Romney campaign serves as a reminder of how impressive the Obama campaign really is. Although Romney is clearly trying to imitate the president's formula for electoral success, people aren't remarking on the professionalism of the Romney operation. They're focusing on the endless gaffes, the lack of enthusiasm, and the nonfat-plain-yogurt vibe the candidate projects. It's still early in the race, and it remains to be seen whether Romney's campaign will get into a groove before the fall. For now, Romney 2012 is no Obama 2008. 

So They Say

“I think obviously that I would be a better candidate, but the objective fact is the voters didn’t think that."

Newt Gingrich, in a speech in North Carolina today, warming up for the May 1 suspension of his campaign.

Daily Meme: Romney's Same Ol' Spiel

  • Jon Chait: "To recap Mitt Romney’s new stump speech, he thinks Americans should vote on whether they’re financially better off than they were in 2008—which is to say, they should blame President Obama for the effects of the Great Recession." 
  • McKay Coppins: "A quick LexisNexis search returned 96 articles written since the first vote was cast in Iowa discussing a 'pivot' to the general election on Romney's part."
  • Ezra Klein: "If this speech was all you knew of Mitt Romney -- if it was your one guide to his presidential campaign -- you'd sum his message up as, 'vote for me: I think America is great.'"
  • Howard Kurtz: "Perhaps the events of Tuesday were more of a time-out from the endless general-election slog."
  • Jamelle Bouie: "In a sane world, Mitt Romney would be laughed out of politics for the speech he gave celebrating his final wins."
  • John Cassidy: "A mélange of 'Morning in America' Reaganism with a sprinkling of 'I feel your pain' Clintonism."
  • National Review: "Crisp, pointed, and optimistic, it was Romney’s best speech of the campaign."

What We're Writing

  • Paul Waldman: "Romney may not have pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, but he has a pair of bootstraps that he inherited from his father, which he keeps in a small mahogany box and takes out and gazes upon every now and again."
  • Patrick Caldwell has a eulogy not just for Newt Gingrich's campaign, but his entire political career. 

What We're Reading

  • Frank Rich: "A lot of Kool-Aid is being drunk on the right to make the Mitt medicine go down."
  • Reid Cherlin discovers one reason Ron Paul didn't do so well—his base doesn't believe in voting. 
  • Super PACs are making room for state and local races
  • Jimmy Carter says he'd be "comfortable" with a President Romney
  • Romney has over 20 fundraising events planned for May.

Poll of the Day

The Real Clear Politics average of general-election polling currently has Obama up 47.7 percent to Romney's 43.7 percent, but Five Thirty Eight warns us that spring polls can be inaccurate. In 1980, for example, Jimmy Carter was up 2 percentage points in April, and we all know how that turned out. In short, take the general-election poll numbers with a grain of salt for the next few months. 

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