Just under a month ago, I wrote
Of all the people to not be beating up Mitt Romney for his present not quite stellar campaign, I find myself in that position.
I’m genuinely not that worried.
I am still not worried, but I am getting concerned. This election is trending away from Romney as the economy deteriorates and more Americans believe the economy is getting worse. That should be a red flag for the GOP.
During the month of June, Barack Obama had a terrible month. Since then, he has continued to make some serious flubs. But through it all, Team Romney has really failed to capitalize on those stumbles and Romney has had a bad month himself. His message has not broken.
He tried an international trip and timed it during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. It got little attention except for his own missteps.
Today, he announced a very bold pick in Paul Ryan. This forces the message to be about the economy and our long term future. It is a fight worth having and one we can win. But I am less and less confident that Team Romney, as presently constituted, can win that fight.
Picking Paul Ryan must be the beginning of a campaign shake up, not the end.
Consider that in all the polling in August, from Gallup to CNN to Fox News, Barack Obama is ahead. You can take issue with one or two of the polls, but the trend is consistent.
Another trend is consistent.
Mitt Romney continues to outperform Barack Obama on key issues like the economy, jobs, and the national debt — the very issues the campaign is about, yet he is still behind.
Part of it is the summer doldrums. Part of it is Romney not having a lot of money to spend until officially accepting the Republican nomination. But a good part of it is Romney’s team. Several of them have been touting themselves and how awesome they are instead of the candidate. Let’s not forget the Stu Stevens hagiography. Eric Fehrnstrom and Andrea Saul have made their own missteps that have taken away from key momentum.
Today, the Romney camp sent out a talking points sheet claiming that while picking Paul Ryan, Romney had his own budget plans. This is delusional and not credible spin. You pick Paul Ryan, you defend his budget. It is that simple. That one bullet point sums up a summer of dysfunction. The Romney team seems to be believing its own spin, which can often lead to disaster.
Team Romney-Ryan has the chance for a real reboot. But it is one they need to take it. While I am not yet worried, I am concerned by the consistent propensity of Team Romney to not capitalize on Barack Obama’s missteps and to trip over their own feet when they get ahead.
Paul Ryan is not enough. Mitt Romney does need to prune and fertilizer his campaign team.