How Romney Can Rebound in Florida
Mitt Romney has fallen like a lead balloon to trail Newt Gingrich in Florida by a considerable margin and is now in a statistical tie nationally. In a Rasmussen Reports poll released yesterday Gingrich now leads Romney by a 41% to 32% margin and in an Insider Advantage poll also released yesterday Newt leads Mitt by 34% to 26%. In today’s Gallup Tracking poll Romney has 1% lead over Gingrich nationally.
There are numerous reasons for the precipitous drop in Romney’s numbers but with tonight’s GOP debate (NBC, 9PM EST), I’ll focus on the one I took the Romney campaign to task over last week.
Governor Romney has had two abysmal debates in a row against one of the most prolific political debaters in recent history.
As early voting has already started in Florida, and Romney had a considerable lead at that time, he may have some hidden value in those ballots but if Mitt Romney takes another shellacking tonight he may well see his polling numbers drop even further. My bet is he can’t and won’t perform significantly better unless he quietly fired his former debate prep team, hired a new one and has been highly focused on preparation for tonight’s debate.
The former Governor must come out tonight cocksure and aggressive without the fumbling for words and obfuscated answers of last week. He needs to forget Ron Paul and Rick Santorum even exist and take the fight directly to Newt from the first moment. Think of Alice Cooper’s “No More Mister Nice Guy” if you want a theme for what Mitt needs to do tonight. A list of key topics for Romney includes:
- Tackle the Bain Capital issues head-on without mincing words and paint Gingrich as anti-capitalist or at least incapable of passing valid judgment on free-markets and without a sound economic plan.
- Address his wealth and appropriate tax planning that includes the legal use of offshore investment strategies. Mitt needs to say, “I’ve made money because I can manage any enterprise, especially the United States” and convince the crowd that business acumen should be embraced not castigated.
- Announce that he is releasing his last 6 to 8 tax returns. Forget the gamesmanship on this issue he had available before, since he blew the handling of it. He has got to put this issue to bed, and should be using the same argument, as cited above, that his personal wealth is proof positive of his ability to take the reins of the economy and turn it around.
- Relentlessly pound Gingrich on his past including his marital transgressions, ethics charges as former Speaker, the $300,000 fine and his ultimate resignation. The opportunity will certainly come tonight and Mitt has to hammer Newt for every personal and political flaw that is available. Nobody has seen what can happen when Gingrich is put under direct fire from another candidate because nobody has attacked him aggressively to date. Romney has to put the pressure on early, not let up and force Newt to self-immolate as he is most capable of doing.
Can Romney do these things? If it’s the same fumbling and mumbling Mitt Romney we saw last week, the answer is an emphatic no. If he’s had better debate prep and is ready to take the gloves off, the answer’s maybe. Right now, with his poll numbers dropping, a maybe is as good as it gets but if he flounders again tonight we may well see an acceleration of his recent messiah to pariah like fall.