Jamelle Bouie

Why Romney Is Difficult to Attack

Over at The New Republic , Alec MacGillis wonders if we’ve overstated Mitt Romney’s problems with women voters. The short answer, given Romney’s improvement with women over the last month, is yes: It’s becoming clear that Romney’s lousy numbers a few months ago had a lot to do with the tenor of a moment that has largely passed. This explains why the Obama campaign is doing its darndest to remind women of the stances that emerged at that juncture (and yes, Ross Douthat may have scored a recent point in our running debate on this subject.) But it also suggests that the Obama campaign may need to rethink how it’s going about trying to keep the gender gap as big as possible. Polls show that the campaign is doing very well, at least as well as in 2008, with college-educated, higher-income women of the sort that presumably respond well to a social-issue, cultural critique of Romney. I have my doubts about the Obama campaign’s ability to define Romney as regressive on reproductive health and...

What Missouri Tells Us About Obama's Coalition

I’m a little surprised to see that Missouri is a toss-up in the presidential race, according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling. Obama has a 44 percent approval rating among Missouri voters, but gains 45 percent of the vote in a match-up with Mitt Romney, who has a 38 percent favorability rating and gets 44 percent of the vote. In the cross-tabs, Obama maintains high support among Democratic base voters; 87 percent of African Americans support him, as well as 51 percent of other minorities. He gets 45 percent support from women, 81.5 percent support from liberals, and 64 percent support from young voters. Indeed, Obama’s continued strength in Missouri–which he lost by 1 percentage point in the 2008 election—might come from the fact that some of those groups, particularly young voters , were a greater percentage of the electorate in Missouri than they were nationally. Public Policy Polling doesn’t provide Obama’s support by education, but his high support among college-...

How the Attack on Massachusetts Could Backfire

This morning, the Obama campaign released its first video on Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts: There are a few obvious problems with this line of attack. Even with its fiscal problems and slow job growth, Massachusetts wasn’t a terrible place to live under the Romney administration. The point is to show that Romney is offering the same “robotic” line to voters, but how does that resonate when few people associate Massachusetts with “bad governance?” The big problem for this attack is health care reform. Not only was Romney’s health care bill the signature accomplishment of his administration, but it formed the basis for the Affordable Care Act, which may become the signature accomplishment of President Obama’s administration. Romneycare remains popular with Massachusetts voters, and it’s a genuine achievement for the Republican nominee, even if he can’t present it as an asset in his campaign. By attacking Romney’s tenure, the Obama campaign could put itself in the odd...

Let's Hear Less About Massachusetts, More About Bush

(Wikipedia)
Earlier this week, I argued that the Obama campaign would soon bolster their attacks on Bain Capital with attacks on Mitt Romney’s record in Massachusetts. Well, this morning, ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports that the campaign will do just that, and open a new front in its war on the Republican nominee: Team Obama will point to Romney’s rhetoric on job creation, size of government, education, deficits and taxes during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign and draw parallels with his presidential stump speeches of 2012. The goal is to illustrate that Romney has made the same promises before with unimpressive results, officials say. […] “He sold the same hooey in MA ten years ago, and then turned in one of the worst performances of any gov in the USA. 47th in job creation,” senior Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted last week, hinting at the direction of the attacks to come. Tapper calls this a “shifting of gears” away from the assault on Bain, but I think that’s mistaken. For now, the Obama...

Fun and Games with Donald Trump

The Obama campaign has released a scathing statement on Mitt Romney’s meeting with Donald Trump, the noted “birther” who made news last year with his demand for President Obama’s birth certificate: “Mitt Romney’s continued embrace of Donald Trump and refusal to condemn his disgraceful conspiracy theories demonstrates his complete lack of moral leadership. Now he’s even standing by silently as Trump assails John McCain’s courage in standing up to the most extreme and hateful voices in the Republican Party—all in order to raise money for himself. If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he’s so concerned about lining his campaign’s pockets, what does that say about the kind of president he would be?” As far as campaign statements go, this is actually a good point. In what world can Romney acquiesce to obvious charlatans like Trump, but stand up to congressional Republicans once in office? As president, he’ll still have political...

Debt Ceiling 2: Electric Boogaloo

In case you missed it—and you probably did—the most important political news of the year came a few weeks ago when House Speaker John Boehner promised a repeat of last summer’s debt ceiling showdown: “That night in New York City, I put forth the principle that we should not raise the debt ceiling without real spending cuts and reforms that exceed the amount of the debt limit increase…. When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance. If that means we have to do a series of stop-gap measures, so be it - but that’s not the ideal. Let’s start solving the problem. We can make the bold cuts and reforms necessary to meet this principle, and we must.” Later in the year, the government will bump up against its debt limit of $16.4 trillion. If Congress refuses to raise the limit, the United...

Why the Kid Gloves for Team Romney?

(NewsHour/Flickr)
With regards to Mitt Romney’s renewed attack on President Obama’s economic stewardship, all of the focus seems to be on his assertion that “President Obama has never managed anything other than his own personal narrative.” There’s a little hypocrisy in the blow, given Romney’s complaint that Obama is waging a personal attack against him, but it’s far less important than what follows—-“[Obama] has never created a job and never run a business.” As Greg Sargent points out , this is a sign that Romney has gone back to the claim that the economy has lost jobs under Obama as a result of the stimulus: The Romney camp’s claim is that we can calculate that the stimulus destroyed jobs overall with a metric that factors in all the jobs destroyed before the stimulus took effect. In other words, the Romney campaign wants to make Obama responsible for all jobs lost as result of the economic collapse, despite the fact that it was well underway by the time he entered office. The reality, as I noted...

Could Romney Be the Real "Job Creator" in this Election?

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
After last week’s fight over Bain Capital, the Romney campaign is returning to safer ground with a renewed attack on Obama’s handling of the economy: “President Obama has never managed anything other than his own personal narrative. He has never created a job and never run a business. President Obama not only doesn’t understand the economy - he also opposes the free-market principles that built it. His policies have prevented businesses from growing, thriving, and creating jobs, and he has no plans to change course.” Of course, knowledge of “job creation” has almost nothing to do with experience in business—Bill Clinton spent his entire life in government and George W. Bush had an MBA, but the former presided over a period of immense job creation, while the latter led the country through a decade of stagnant job growth. Likewise, Obama’s inexperience with the private sector hasn’t stopped his administration from presiding over 4.25 million new private sector jobs , a huge improvement...

Dear Washington, Nothing Has Changed About the Election

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
For political junkies, it’s easy to think that campaign tussles make a difference in presidential elections. Washington was consumed with the story of Mitt Romney the high school bully, but voters could care less—in a recent poll from ABC News and The Washington Post , 90 percent said that it wouldn’t be a factor in their view of the GOP nominee. Likewise, the massive controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage has had zero effect on Massachusetts voters—69 percent say they simply don’t care. I don’t mean to single out partisans; actual Beltway pundits are also too concerned with gaffes and faux controversies. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei's assessment of the last month—which has the top spot at POLITICO — describes the Obama campaign as “stumbling out of the gate” and “struggling” with message discipline. It’s everything you would expect from a micro-focus on the election: Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across...

Romney's Promises to Lower Unemployment to 6 Percent. It's Not Impressive

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
In an interview with Time ’s Mark Halperin today, Mitt Romney elaborates on his goals for economic growth in his first term. In particular, he hopes to see an unemployment rate of six percent: I can’t possibly predict precisely what the unemployment rate will be at the end of one year. I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent and perhaps a little lower. It depends in part upon the rate of growth of the globe, as well as what we’re seeing in the United States. This is far more realistic than the 4-percent projection of last month, but it’s still a little disingenuous. Romney tells Halperin that he hopes to get to 6 percent unemployment with his policies, a nod to his claim that tax and budget cuts will stimulate the economy and generate economic growth. But the fact of the matter is that under the current baseline, according to the Congressional Budget Office , unemployment will...

Winning Was Always a Possibility

(NewsHour/Flickr)
Politico ’s latest scoop is the discovery, after interviews with party leader and activists, that Republicans think Mitt Romney can win the election: Margin-of-error polling, fundraising parity last month, conservative consolidation around Romney and a still-sluggish economy has senior GOP officials increasingly bullish about a nominee many winced over during a difficult primary process. Interviews with about two dozen Republican elected officials, aides, strategists and lobbyists reveal a newfound optimism that with a competent, on-message campaign, Romney will be at least competitive with a weakened incumbent. That’s a dramatic shift from the fatalistic view many party stalwarts shared mere weeks ago. If you have the good fortune to be a major party nominee for president then, by definition, you have a significant chance of winning the presidency. This was true for John Kerry, it was true for John McCain, and it is true for Romney. That doesn’t mean that a win is likely , but it’s...

What You See Is What You Get

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
In my cover story for this month’s issue of the Prospect , I argued that it’s silly to expect moderation from Mitt Romney if he’s elected president. The former Massachusetts governor ran as a “severely” conservative politician in the Republican primaries, his policies are drawn from the right-wing social engineering of Paul Ryan, and in all likelihood, he’ll govern on those terms. Over at The Washington Post , centrist extraordinaire Richard Cohen has, surprisingly, come to the same conclusion : It’s hardly conceivable that, as president, Romney will become the Romney some think he is. The forces that shaped him in the primaries and caucuses will not go away. He has been clay in the hands of the political right, and this will not change. […] The widespread belief that Romney would govern from the center is supposedly supported by the equally widespread belief that he is a liar. I hear this all the time: Never mind what Romney said in the primaries, he is a moderate Republican. These...

A Middling Result for Obama

(White House/Flickr)
Depending on how you look, the most recent poll from ABC News and the Washington Post shows Obama in either a precarious position, or a decent one given the circumstances. If you’re inclined to take the former view, the evidence is clear: 55 percent of voters disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy, and 83 percent describe the economy as "not so good" or "poor." Thirty percent say they are not so well-off since Obama became president, and 47 percent say they trust Mitt Romney to handle the economy—a statistical tie with the president, and a sign that voters have faith in Romney’s ability to get things done. If you’re bullish on Obama, there’s evidence for your view as well. His approval rating is 47 percent, with 49 percent disapproval. According to the Washington Post ’s election forecaster , if Obama maintains that approval rating through the summer—and if economic growth holds steady at an average rate of 2 percent—then he has an 84.4 percent chance of winning the majority...

Is Obama Condescending to Women?

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown had an interesting op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times , where she criticized Obama for condescending to women voters in his attempt to gain their support: It’s obvious why the president is doing a full-court press for the vote of college-educated women in particular. The Republican primaries probably did turn some women away. Rick Santorum did his party no favors when he spoke about women in combat[…]; when he described the birth of a child from rape as “a gift in a very broken way”; and how, if he was president, he would make the case for the damage caused by contraception. But Mitt Romney will never be confused with Rick Santorum on these issues, and many women understand that. […] The struggling women in my life all laughed when I asked them if contraception or abortion rights would be a major factor in their decision about this election. For them, and for most other women, the economy overwhelms everything else. Where Brown goes wrong, I think, is...

Obama's Trouble in North Carolina

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
CNN’s Peter Hamby describes the Obama campaign’s troubles in the Tar Heel State: [I]t’s hard to find a Democrat in the capital of Raleigh who believes the president, saddled with the burdens of governing and a sputtering economy, can stir the enthusiasm of 2008 and repeat his near-flawless North Carolina performance. “My heart says he will win here, but my head says it’s going to be awfully tough for him,” said Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic consultant and adviser to former Gov. Jim Hunt. “This is a tight state for him. Race is part of it. The economy is a big problem. Four years ago he was new, he was exciting. He was hope and change. That has worn off now. The glow is gone. It’s going to be tough for him to catch magic in the bottle again.” For my part, I would be very surprised if Obama won North Carolina again. There’s a good chance he’ll maintain his 2008 support from African American voters, but his support among white voters is almost certain to go down to the usual levels...

Pages