Skip to comments.Rules for Romney: How to Win
Posted on 07/23/2012 5:59:37 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
The two of us recently published a book about the highly successful Obama presidential campaign of 2008. From our research we distilled 10 lessons for 2012 Republican primary candidates called (with apologies to Saul Alinsky) Rules for Republicans (The Weekly Standard, January 2-9, 2012). With the Republican primary now behind us, it is fair to ask: How is the Romney campaign doing?
First, the good news. Romney campaign headquarters is located far outside Washington, D.C. (unlike the Clinton and McCain campaigns of 2008). The Romney campaign has developed a state-by-state electoral strategy with multiple avenues to victory. The campaign has made it clear that it will reject public financing and its attendant spending limits (unlike the McCain general election campaign of 2008). The Romney campaign is running a strong ground game, especially in the battleground states. And the rumored names of potential vice-presidential running mates are largely solid and promising.
There is also bad news. There are three major areas in which the campaign urgently needs to sharpen its focus, and these areas are absolutely critical to success. We outline them here in three Rules for Romney.
Rule 1: Define your big idea. What is the overarching theme of your campaign? What is the first thing you want people to think and say about you? What do you stand for? These questionswhich are all really the same questionare not easy to answer. In answering them, you are defining your brand.
To date, the closest you have come to defining yourself is that you are not Barack Obama. This is a decent start, but no one else is Barack Obama either, and you need to say what it is you will do if you are elected. Why should the American people vote for you? What will you do differently from a second-term Barack Obama? You say you know how to create jobs and grow the economy. Fair enough. But how will you do this? You have to tell the American people what you are promising them.
The field is wide open. The Obama 2012 presidential campaign is a sad contrast to his 2008 campaign. It is hard to believe that this is the same candidate and the same team of senior advisers. To say that there is no big idea comparable to change we can believe in in 2008 is to vastly understate the poverty of the current Obama campaign. Barack Obama has no ideas to which majorities of the American people feel any emotional connection. He has almost nothing to say about his record, which is dismal, or about his plans for a second term, which are nonexistent. Unlike 2008, he offers no reason for anyone to vote for him; his only option is to attack you.
That is why you need a simple, positive, and emotive idea around which to present yourself to the American people. Prove that your big idea speaks to the hopes and fears of the American people. Let average Americans speak for the agenda which flows from your big idea. Run a series of political commercials in which Americans from all walks of life describe how your plans will help them. Decent, ordinary people can express in their own words the benefits of your ideas. Let them do that. Let them communicate to their fellow citizens why they should vote for you. Let them prove that ordinary Americans feel an attachment to you, to your vision of the future, and to how your agenda will help them.
Rule 2: Sell your benefits, not your features. What do voters know about you? They know your background. They know you were a businessman at Bain Capital, that you were governor of Massachusetts, and that you saved the Salt Lake City Olympics. But lets be clear: Electoral success is not about services rendered or experiences accumulated. It is about promises for the future.
How do successful business marketers sell their products? They do not list the features, or qualities, of their products; they demonstrate the benefits of their products for people in the real world. Consider the oft-run television cell phone commercial. A woman is alone in a parking lot at night. Her car will not start. She is scared. She places a call on her cell phone. Will the call go through? The call goes through, and she feels safe. That is how you show people the benefits of your product, not by listing statistics about cell phone capabilities.
In political campaigns this means that you do not put your biography, however eminent, at the center of your campaign. You have to explain to voters the benefits of voting for you, not your background or qualifications or experience. John McCain and Hillary Clinton found this out the hard way in 2008. If your campaign is centered around your experience or your record or your competence, you are on the road to defeat. What is important is how your experience can get voters where they want to go. How is your campaign demonstrating this?
To be perfectly blunt, voters do not much care about experience (or your religion, despite misguided liberal hopes to the contrary). This was the message of the 2008 campaign. It was also the message of the 2010 congressional midterm elections. And why should voters care? Voters look at the country today and what do they see? They see high unemployment, enormous federal deficits, a dangerous and unsustainable federal debt, declining family incomes, a growing poverty rate, ballooning food stamp rolls, declining influence around the world, and people everywhere gaming the system to receive federal benefits. They think to themselvesand they are surely right about thisif this is what all the smart people in the political class have brought us, we do not need any more of it. They also see a political class in Washington that does not seem to understand or care about any of it. Voters do not want to hear one more word about the experiences of the political class; they want to know what you intend to do to address their concerns. What will be different if we elect you?
Rule 3: Go all in. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, and a sizable share of those believe the countrys very future is at stake in this election. Go all in. You have done this well on many occasions, and aspects of your campaign have been a refreshing change from the McCain campaign of 2008. But you will come under increasing pressure to dilute your positions to win over so-called moderates. If that strategy worked, the moderate John McCain would be president, not Barack Obama, the most liberal of all 100 U.S. senators. And Jimmy Carter would have defeated Ronald Reagan. You will not win this election by being the lesser of two evils; you actually have to attract voters to win. Boldness, directness, and honestythe type which you displayed in your speech to the NAACPwill trump subtlety and nuance every time. Just ask Mike Dukakis, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, or John Kerry.
Draw the contrast between you and Barack Obama as sharply as you can. Wherever possible, use his own words and his own voice to portray his arrogance, his empty rhetoric, and his broken promises. Relentlessly advance your own brand and relentlessly brand President Obama negatively. That is what he did to John McCain in 2008; that is what he is trying to do to you in defining you as a wealthy vulture capitalist. There is not a reason in the world that negative branding should work for him and not for you. The only question is who does it better. If you are not on offense, you will be on defense.
Do not pull your punches, especially in an effort to find favor with the national media and the political class. The days of neutral media, if they ever existed, are long gone. The media are partisans, just as they were in the early days of the republic; they have chosen sides. When you or your campaign are criticized for branding President Obama negatively, know that you are having an effect. Double down on it. Your electorate is the American people, not the media.
The Paris Hilton Celeb ad, which made fun of Barack Obamas celebrity status, was the best ad of the McCain 2008 campaign. It unnerved the Obama campaign; it positioned Barack Obama as a self-oriented pop star, not the potential leader of the nation. The most devastatingly effective form of negative campaigning is ridicule. This is the lefts tool against Republicans, and they hate it when it is turned against them. Use it.
In sum, develop a simple big idea that expresses the core of your campaign; develop a clear and easily understandable set of initiatives that flow from this idea; show how these initiatives will benefit ordinary Americans of all walks of life; and intensify your campaigns focus on Barack Obamas record of failure. Its not too late to kick your campaign up a notch. The future of our nation depends on it.
Lisa Spiller, a professor in the business school at Christopher Newport University, and Jeff Bergner are authors of Branding the Candidate (Praeger).
Mr. RomneyCARE should pull out NOW.
And your big idea for President is whom?
How about ..... ANY ONE OF THE VICTIMS of TEAM ROMNEY;
victims who are true conservatives.
Just pull out Team RomneyCARE’s saboteur “daggers” from
Rule No 1
and 2,3,4,....thru "∞"
Take these out of your "lock box".....
....and start acting like a "man" rather than a Girly-Guy, wuss!
4.) Truly, practice small government conservatism, during Mitt Romney’s entire duration as POTUS, and don’t ignore U.S. conservatives and U.S. conservatism!
Run your campaign against the Commie Kenyan like you ran your campaign in Florida against Newt.
"George was right. My Harvard classmate Mitt Romney IS in my corner,
NOW, as he was in 2008 when he decimated the Palin family."
"It's a feel-good story, this Romney thing.
Romney is an ascendant guy."
Sen. John Kerry (D) to Don Imus on RomneyCARE:
"I like this health care bill".
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) on RomneyCARE:
"To come up with a bipartisan plan in this polarized environment is commendable."
The Big Idea should be to emphasize meritocracy vs cronyism.
Who are you going to vote for?
Somebody else ~ almost anybody else.
Still waiting on some ideas.
Romney is not our best candidate but he’s a MILLION times better than Obama.
Palin in 2016.
A little challenge for you and any of your fellow Hate Mitt and Mormon Freeps:
Hows about you mosey over to my posts of a little while ago...
And see if you can provide what I ask for at the end my comments at the bottom?
Got the stones?
You continue to put down FR disingenuously - in the RomneyWAY.
Either show me/us a post where I posted a "Hate Mormon FReep"
like you purport in your post #15 and elsewhere -- or apologize
and just return to coven with Romney, Soros, and Obama.
Run your campaign against the Commie Kenyan like you ran your campaign in Florida against Newt.All the long-winded verbiage of the posted article means little compared to the 16 words you posted here.
You are exactly right.
I'd like to thank Diogenesis for her support. I'm Barack Hussein Obama and I approve this message.
RESIGN... let America win!
What that means is the GOP-e has been "BOUGHT" by the big money boys behind Obama and cannot be trusted.
While I grant you, Romney is hardly my first choice, he is lightyears ahead of Obama.
Obama is ruining our country. In every way, and at every turn. EVERYTHING he does hurts America.
While I’d not choose Romney first, he has a lot of things preferable to Obama. First of all, he does not have the media brainlessly behind him. That means he can be toppled.
Second of all - a lot of his ideas have merit.
I wish we had stronger candidates this year, but then again we probably would have ended up with a Bush.
Romney is better than a Bush at this point.
It’s hard to tell what he’ll be about for sure, but I’m suspecting he’ll be about a change in America.
Perhaps big. That is what I’m hoping for, and why I support Romney at this point.
Then worry about everything else.
Just let it go!!
Romney is the GOP candidate. The issue now has come down to do you want Obama for four more years, or Romney? That is it. Its no more complicated than that.
How about: LESS GOVERNMENT, MORE JOBS.
Sell your benefits, not your features.
"We'll balance our nation's checkbook, so that you can balance yours".
you must be of the idea that fed gov can/should be saved. I am not of that camp, the GOP always promises and NEVER delivers, they give the libs a little piece thru bipartisanship
exactly if he does happen to win it will be a narrow victory, a real conservative would do it in a landslide. I wish we had 5 or 6 candidates like Ron Paul to choose from but in all actually we need 300 in congress. hell even some liberals are fine with romney, obama is destroying the democrat party
Well ok. That’s a valid criticism.
How about this: Since the GOP-e has been won this time around, how about we see what they can do.
Give them one more chance, as they say.
I’ve got concerns about Romney just like most people. Yet on the other hand, Romney is what every other candidate is not: NOT FOR SALE.
Romney has gobs, and gobs of money.
He’s after something. If it’s a bad thing, we can elect someone else in 2016.
But if he’s about fixing things, actually fixing things.
Perhaps he’s the one guy, who actually can.
Not saying he is. Not saying he isn’t.
Just saying he’s different.
I’m willing to go to bat for him, this time around.
Contrast Romney's ideas with those of Tom Hoefling.
How to ‘win’?
Make sure you’re the only one in the starting gate.
"I thank you and a few other Freepers for all you are doing towards helping me place one of my favorite minions as your Leader.
Mr. RomneyCARE is NOT the GOP candidate YET.
If he is, he is not acceptable for POTUS of America.
Mexico, yes. But he is not eligible HERE.
NO convention has been held yet; on EITHER side!!
NO convention has been held yet; on EITHER side!!
1 Samuel 8:4-9
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.
6 But when they said, Give us a king to lead us, this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.
7 And the Lord told him: Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.
"Thank ME! On your Knees, and Thank ME
for creating VeniVidiVici who supports MY Death Panels."
That's because he's already been bought.
He has sold his soul to his chosen religious organization.
He has SWORN certain OATHS in one of his church's 'temples'.
One of you other pingees can post them; I am sure...
Fortunately, Obama is so weak now that many of his former supporters will desert him at the ballot box in 2012; looking at the polls and reading the handwriting on the wall, it's clear that there's very little chance Obama could get a majoritiy of the vote.
Fortunately, most Republicans know that Romney stinks and is a pro-global warming, pro-homosexula-agenda statist and the original author of ObamaCare. Unfortunately, those same Republicans have been so stampeded and whipped into hysteria with the mantra "we cannot survive another four years of Obama and resistence to him would be useless," that they are on the verge of voting for a politician whose principles they despise and always have.
Here's MY "big idea" -- vote for conservatives down ticket and use the presidential vote the ONLY way possible to help those conservatives when it comes to fighting the anti-conservative president they are guaranteed to have in 2012: vote to weaken the popular mandate of whichever president it turns out to be, Obama or Romney. I'll be voting third party because I know that every third party vote regardless of who casts it will count toward reducing the popular mandate of the next president, and since that president is guaranteed to be a statist, reducing his popular mandate is pretty important.
The last president who won on a plurality (and therefore lacked a popular mandate) was Bill Clinton, who was always much better-liked than Obama -- as anyone with eyes and ears can recognize, Obama is loathed across America regardless of how the MSM and GOP-e "conservative" media try to hide it. Even as well-liked as Clinton was, lack of popular mandate made him vulnerable enough politically that he was handed the Republican Revolution in his first term, and impeachment proceedings in his second term.
I'll vote for a plurality. It's the ONLY way I can vote to weaken whichever bad guy wins. My vote will risk Romney winning eight years of statist control of the Republicna party, as evenly as it will risk Obama winning a mere four years going up against a Republican/conservative dominated Congress and an angry populace who mostly voted for someone else.
Conservatives and Republicans who ignore their noses and their gut instincts because they refuse to re-examine their terror of Obama in a calmer light, risk huge odds of giving Romney a landslide, which would end any real influence of conservatives in the Republican party because such a landslide mandate would quickly evolve from a "referendum on Obama" to a "popular demand for Romney's progressive style of governing -- see how many Americans voted FOR it!"
Ignoring your gut instinct and your nose is bad business -- they are wise and true guides. I'm heeding mine and VOTING FOR A PLURALITY. I'm voting third party to make the next president -- a bad guy either way -- as weak as possible.