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Thursday, February 22, 2007
posted by Justin Hart | 10:59 PM | permalink
Dean Barnett on Hugh Hewitt's blog has posted what I think is the single best analysis of the current buffetings against the Romney campaign.

Dean starts his posted noting what a lot of people have felt this week: Romney took some hits. After sleeping on the issue here's what Dean surmises:
But after, a good night’s sleep, I’ve come to see things differently. It’s all good. Really - this has been a great week for the Romney campaign.
Dean sees this as a classic Rope-A-Dope effect hearkening back to the famous Ali-Foreman fight:
In these early days of the election cycle, Romney is playing the role of Ali and the press is Foreman. Although it’s easy for us political obsessives to forget, there can be no knockouts a year before Iowa. The flip-side of that coin is also informative – Howard Dean had a perfect 2003 and wound up a distant also ran to political titans like John Kerry and John Edwards.

The press and other entities who are hostile to the Romney campaign feel like they’re landing haymakers about his purported flip-flopping. Big deal. When the press is all punched out, Romney will have $100 million and his own formidable political skills available to make his rebuttal.
Dean get a little defensive (and rightly so in my mind) about the current kanoodling around Romney issues:
THE OFT-REPEATED CHARGE AGAINST MITT ROMNEY IS THAT HE’S A FLIP-FLOPPER and an opportunist. As someone who knows him and who is familiar with his character, it annoys me no end to see Romney’s detractors so relentlessly peddle such an inaccurate caricature.
As we pointed out today with the whole Bopp thing people really are itching for a fight with Romney. Dean continues and hits paydirt with the key part of his post:
But there’s an undeniable political upside to this development. It will hardly be possible for the press to release a big “breaking news” story on the eve of the Iowa primary that says in effect, “This just in: Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper!!!” By the time the public is steeling itself to take a hard look at who should be its next President, the press will have punched itself out as far as Mitt Romney is concerned. Believe me – Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani should be so fortunate.
The logic in Barnett's argument is frankly very convincing. To test his theory I asked a group of my employees (IT professionals) what they know about Mitt Romney. Their response: "Mitt who?"

While the challenge of name recognition is a significant one it also demonstrates that the pithy infighting and ridicilous gnat squinting is just that. Most people still haven't made up there mind. Or as one blog put it "I don't even know what he looks like?"

Here's the last part of Dean's post where he sums up the whole theory:
And when the time finally comes for Romney to counterpunch after all the breathless “exposés” have been written and all the YouTubes have been aired, Romney will find his opponents in the media as easy to knock out as George Foreman was in the 8th round of the Rumble in the Jungle. The governor will be able to respond to his critics with two easy smackdowns that will be devastating when the time is right. The first is an old John F. Kennedy saw: “It’s not where you come from, but where you stand.” The second will be a completely justified swipe at the pettiness and endlessly repetitive nature of these attacks: “I want to talk about our country’s future. I will, even if the press and my opponents are obsessed with my past.”

The fact is, Mitt Romney will have enough money and enough political skill to define himself when the time is right. The fact that the hostile factions of the press will no longer be relevant when that time comes is a wonderful bonus.
Kudos to Dean. I buy it.

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