Mitt Romney has called his win tonight in almost-hometown New Hampshire an “historic night.” Congratulations on being another Harvard-educated old dude to win the New Hampshire primary. You’re right, it’s historic.
One of the things we like to do here is message and write strategy. Mitt is busy annointing himself as the GOP nominee for a pretty important job–the GOP’s “Chosen One” to defeat a guy a plurality of conservative Republicans believe isn’t an American citizen. Undoubtedly, though, he will actually be forced to go toe-to-toe with the current leader of the free world: President Barack Obama. Forgive the foreshadowing, but if you don’t mind, we’ve scripted a bit of what that might sound like:
Moderator: “An important issue on the minds of all Americans is that of health care. President Obama, your administration passed a comprehensive and controversial health care plan for the first time in American history. Governor Romney, you signed into law a similar plan in Massachusetts. Can each of you tell us why you are right on health care? Governor Romney, the first response will come from you.”
Romney: “First of all, let me be absolutely clear. My first act as President of the United States will be to overturn this brutal, unconstitutional health care monostrosity. This president rammed this bill hurriedly down our throats, raised our taxes and is essentially forcing people to purchase health insurance or he will make them pay a penalty. Just think about that: the federal government telling you that you must buy something, or else. I don’t know how often the president reads the Constitution, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen justification for that in there.”
Obama: “Now, see, this is where I’m confused, Governor. Are you for health care, or aren’t you? Because it was your actions that made this health care law possible. When you were Governor of Massachusetts, you signed into law health care legislation that is identical in nearly every way to what we have before us today. And now you say you aren’t for your own legislation? Who are we to believe, Governor? The Mitt Romney of now or the Mitt Romney of a few years ago? How can we trust you to make the right decisions when you can’t even agree with yourself? My administration passed a law that will help provide basic, affordable health coverage to millions more Americans. I am proud of that, Governor, because I stand up and fight for what I believe in.”
Moderator: “Shifting our attention now to foreign policy. Governor Romney, you have criticized the president’s decision to pull all US combat troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011. Tell us why, and President Obama, you’ll have the rebuttal.”
Romney: “You know, Barack Obama has had four years. The reality is, he’s made this country less safe. The policy of “cut and run” hurts the Iraqis and our allies, and it denegrates the legacy of our fighting men and women in uniform. Our hasty exit sent a signal to all the terrorists and America-haters in the region: we surrender. This president and his liberal cronies signaled that as our military policy. Enough’s enough. The American people have got to know that as Commander-in-Chief, I will never surrender, and I will put forth my greatest effort every day to honor our fighting men and women and keep this country safe and secure.”
Obama: “Some folks will remember me talking about a young Marine I met back in Illinois, named Seamus. He was one of the first Marines to go to Iraq, and he was a great kid–a handsome kid. His family has a lot to be proud of. Every single day, as Commander-in-Chief…as President…as a father…I ask myself, ‘Am I serving Seamus as well as he’s serving me?’ When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world. Nothing can ever tarnish the legacy of Seamus, and the thousands of other Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen out there sacrificing for us. But we should never take advantage of their heroism again, like we did for eight years. As Commander-in-Chief, I made the decision that it was time for Seamus to come home from Iraq. I will stand up and fight for that decision, because I know it was the right one to make.”
Moderator: “Perhaps the most crucial election issue for most Americans is the economy. The national unemployment rate is still above 8%, the country is still experiencing a foreclosure crisis, and rallies by both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement have highlighted the public’s growing dissatisfaction with both government solutions and corporate greed in light of recent bailouts. Governor Romney, what is the problem and how can we fix it?”
Romney: “I think this country has suffered long enough under a man with virtually no executive experience prior to being elected to office. I think we’ve seen that he has consistently made the wrong decisions on the economy. As a guy who has run a business successfully and employed quite a few Americans, I know what it takes, and the answer may shock President Obama: it’s less government. Less back-breaking regulation. We have a system right now that punishes your success. If a family makes a dollar in this country, this president–through higher taxes, an unconstitutional health care law, more government bureaucracy–this president is essentially cutting that dollar in half. We have a long way to go on the economy, but we’re going to need a president with the guts and the gumption to cut spending and lower taxes on job creators. As we have seen, this president simply can’t get the job done.”
Obama: “It amazes me how out-of-touch some can be. Look, Governor, in these tough times, American families need a government that’s going to work for them, not some Wall Street fat cats. Lack of accountability and unfettered greed got us into this mess. Mitt Romney’s plan would have us look away while the fat cats loot the rest of Main Street. Well, we’re not going to do that anymore. The American people have spoken, Governor, and they will stand up and fight for a fair shake. They want multi-billion dollar corporations that paid less in taxes than their family of five to pay their fair share. They want them to stop pillaging communities and they want the banks to stop taking their homes. The policies of the past are over. My administration has cut taxes for middle class and working class families–that’s more money for gas to drive to work or cereal on the breakfast table. And you know, through our efforts, we have helped create more jobs this year than my Republican predecessor managed to destroy in 2008–at the beginning of this mess. This country is coming together and remembering what we stand for–liberty and justice for all. I’m proud to be the president of a country that seeks a fair shake for all her citizens.”
With the election less than ten months away, how familiar might these refrains become?
The candidate with the best message–and the one most capable of delivering it with a compelling honesty, vigor and sincerity–will win what is sure to be an incredibly close presidential election this year. We look forward to helping craft that debate.