Over at the Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris claims the Obama campaign has waited too long to make its best closing argument:
In the first debate, Obama compounded a lethargic performance by again not making a coherent case for how the achievements of his first term laid the groundwork for job growth in the second and what he would do to build on those achievements. He failed to do so again in the second and third debates, despite being far more aggressive in taking on Romney.
Finally, in the last few days, the Obama campaign has put out a booklet that lays out in an organized way the specifics of a second term agenda, and in his speeches he’s kinda-sorta begun explaining how those specific policies relate to what he’s done in the first term.
But I’m not sure the available evidence backs up the premise. Glastris argues that Obama should have been presenting this case since the Democratic convention, which at this point feels like it may as well have been in 2010.
After all, it was barely more than three weeks ago that Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign was a national laughingstock. And yet here he is now, at worst only a couple of percentage points behind in most polls, with a legitimate chance of (pardon me while I shudder) taking the oath of office in January.
Romney’s comeback has been based on a reinvention (however thoroughly implausible) as an optimistic, politically centrist economic repairman that casual observers like me were saying months earlier was his real chance at winning. But Team Mitt was probably wise to wait until the first presidential debate to unveil their new product — if anything, it even made a virtue of their previous incompetence, as wingnuts who had previously howled at any signs of moderation by Romney kept their mouths shut, scared into silence by the imminent prospect of a decisive Obama victory.
A more important reason for waiting, though, is that any “new Mitt Romney” persona, almost by definition, couldn’t be durable enough to last very long. In this case, it began visibly losing steam by the second debate, and was almost entirely exhausted by this week’s final installment. And that’s not all Romney’s fault; intensive coverage has made White House campaigns increasingly ravenous in terms of needing fresh stories and angles to consume, and the Twitter-ification of the news cycle has amplified that trend even further.
So while Glastris and others accuse Obama of perversely hiding his best argument for re-election in a recent (originally off-the-record) interview with the Des Moines Register, I’d suggest it might be the other way around: the Iowa interview may have been a dress rehearsal for a message that will be pushed more visibly over the next week.
Heck, Team O may even be afraid that if they talk about it too much before Nov. 1st, it’ll be forgotten as old news by Election Day.