Can Mitt Romney's campaign recover?

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraiser in Salt Lake City, Utah 18 September 2012 Mitt Romney's campaign has said it will change its strategy - but what will that mean in practice?

The Romney remarks are meat and drink to all of us who are covering the US election campaign.

Whether you call them gaffes, mis-steps or outbreaks of unexpected honesty, such remarks are revealing. They are all part of the thrills and spills of the destruction derby we call an election campaign. Whether they shift the opinion polls one jot or change any voter's mind is another matter.

Whatever you think of Mr Romney's ideological spin on his own strategy, his basic point is true: the majority of voters are not going to change their minds.

There are about 10% of voters in the middle who matter. And there is no evidence that these news stories, on their own, change anyone's mind.

Religion and guns

There is an obvious comparison: the rich candidate who told rich donors that some white Americans were clinging to their religion and their guns.

Of course that candidate, Barack Obama, is now president. His remarks caused just as much of a fuss as Mr Romney's, although they were much earlier in the 2008 electoral cycle.

There is a lot of debate on the blogosphere about the similarities and differences with that incident. Those on the left tend to stress that Mr Obama's point was the opposite of Mr Romney's - he would try to get around perceptions and attempt to win people over.

Many conservatives think Mr Romney has spoken the plain truth and nobody should be offended by it, whereas, they say, Mr Obama was guilty of bigotry.

But one senior conservative, Bill Kristol, while making the same comparison and saying Mr Romney should be president, sees his remarks as "arrogant and stupid", insulting his own voters.

A new charge

This moment may not be important on its own. It probably isn't a pivot. But it stands as a symbol for a few days that could be - might be - pivotal.

For seven days now Mr Romney has been on the back foot, excusing himself and explaining his words, not pushing his message. At the very time when the opinion polls suggests that he needs to be aggressively fighting for every inch of ground, he has lost the microphone.

Politico's article about "stumbles" in the campaign suggests that the blame game had begun before that, a clear sign of an ailing campaign. If there's not a meltdown then there's something more serious than a highly strung rethink.

Although it is not clear what it will mean in practice, there is constant chatter about a new focus for the team.

There are just 49 days to go before America votes. It smacks of desperation for a candidate, standing on a gaffe-strewn battlefield, to order a new charge in a different direction.

But that doesn't mean it is bound to fail.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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US Presidential Election 2012


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  • rate this

    Comment number 493.


    Truly scary. Seems like Romney's 'half the population are irrelevant and inferior and should be treated us such' doctrine has some precedent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    477. Curt Carpenter

    He says he'd never vote for a "socialist like Obama," but he can't vote for Romney either now. He's planning to stay home.

    Now he understands how so many Obama supporters feel. They're staying home too. Turnout will be nothing like 2008 despite all the apps.

    Maybe your neighbor will change his mind after seeing Obama's pirate tweet. Now there's a smart move.

  • Comment number 491.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    Romney represents everything the corporations don't like:

    He would put Americans first+
    he understands how to create jobs+decrease debt

    Obama represents everything corporations love:

    He renewed Bush tax cuts, he passed Obamacare and not universal health care, he did not pass any real reform on Wall St

    Media is negative toward Romney
    b/c Obama represents corporations including media

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.


    Perhaps I was unclear. Egypt for example... there is no civil law that requires women to to wear the Hajib, yet they are routinely ostracized or physically assaulted for not doing so, with near impunity for their attackers.

    This is 100% due to socio-religious shifts, which unofficially elevate Islamic fundamentalism over civil law. Iranians also vote for a president subservient to clerics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Each One Teach One (480),

    “Yes Chryses,
    Lets Chant Down Babylon Kingdom,
    Who is John Bourgeois”

    While I cannot honestly claim to be familiar with John, your posts make it quite clear that you don’t know that other fellow, Jack.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    478.Maria Ashot
    11 Minutes ago
    474: If Tea Party has their way, there will be plenty of violence: the insidious kind, perpetrated by those Right-Wing Anarchists who will apply slash&burn plans to the US budget
    We need to slash and burn the budget. And there is plenty of waste and salaries that can go, not to mention undeserved congressional pensions

  • Comment number 486.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    477: Your neighbour is not alone; plenty of us had hoped some other way might be found, but in fact the only way to go forward &get out of the difficult times imposed on 95% of the US population by wildly misguided policies &blunders is simply to get on with working through the mess,paying the debt down slowly,creating jobs more quickly (meaning tolerating some Gov't spending & therefore moreDebt)

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    Curt: He says he'd never vote for a "socialist like Obama," but he can't vote for Romney either now

    Thats interesting cause' I was just reading an article the other day about a bunch of black Southern Christians who said they didn't want to vote for Obama b/c of his support for same sex marriage

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    Buzzuup & Jay
    Then why don't the small and medium businesses get together and publicize it, create a chamber of commerce for the non oligarchs [if you don't have one already]? A presidential election would be a great time to do it and get some professional help to do so. In fact, what's to prevent an organization of businesses from combining those benefits and cutting costs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    470. MagicKirin

    My own theory on the media's obsession with Romney is that
    (1) they cannot fathom how he continues to shoulder on despite the odds against him (to which they contribute) and (2) they are egged on by the fact that he completely ignores them.

    Many of the statements from the Obama Administration on Benghazi were false, and yet they are focused on Romney's statements. Unbelievable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    Buzzuup (473),

    “... I'm referring to any theocratic society that believes religious doctrine should supersede the rule of law.”

    How can you possibly not know that in a theocracy religious doctrine defines the law? By definition, therefore, it (the theology) cannot supersede the law, as it is the foundation of those laws.

    You appear to be unfamiliar with the subject material.

  • Comment number 480.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    #474 "the Tea Party has a thoughful point of view"

    Like "Keep your government hands off my Medicare" ?

    On the surface, their message is sound... only spend what you can afford. Scratch the surface and you'll see that "red-states" where the TP is strongest take much more federal $ per capita than they pay in.

    Redistribution? There would BE no GOP without it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    474: If Tea Party has their way, there will be plenty of violence: the insidious kind, perpetrated by those Right-Wing Anarchists who will apply slash&burn plans to the US budget, leading to much unnecessary trauma -- and the violence of those who react against this savage methodology that is based on a complete disconnect from the experience of the average American household since Bush-1

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    My neighbor (retired and collecting Social Security like I am) -- a blood red Texas Republican -- pulled the Romney/Ryan sign out of his yard this morning. He says he'd never vote for a "socialist like Obama," but he can't vote for Romney either now. He's planning to stay home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    Each One Teach One (472),

    "... You can stop crowing ..."

    When AndreaNY referred @466 to the "shellacking" the Democratic party took in the 2010 elections, she was only quoting President Obama. Those were his words.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    472. Each One Teach One

    You're funny!

    The will of the people when democrats are elected to office.

    Knee-jerk extremism and paranoia when democrats are removed from office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    ref #472

    Unlike OWS or the protesters in the Middle East, the Teap Party has a thoughful point of view holds their rallies and commits no acts of violence.

    They are a grassroot groups unlike the other two.


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