(San Francisco) – I have been on the road all week, and it’s fascinating the different political perspectives you get from the different parts of the country. Of course the big event coming this week is Wednesday’s first debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. Here are some thoughts:
It’s Not Over ‘Til It’s Over! – We’ll borrow the old Yogi Berra cliché here, but it is true. While the race is now clearly trending Obama, a lot can happen between now and Nov. 6. The turmoil in the Mideast and the fact that two more unemployment reports are due out before most people vote are events that could swing the political tide. Almost everyone here in California that I have spoken with firmly believes it’s already over and the Obama administration is headed to a second term. Such overconfidence is a huge concern to the White House, because it often means people assume what they believe to be inevitable, and consequently they don’t vote.
Debate Strategy: Romney – If I was coaching Romney, I would say, “Attack, attack, attack!” He’s behind and has lost more ground in the past 10 days. His approach has to equal the D-Day invasion. He has to come out swinging and not let up, especially on the economy and on Libya. But, he has to make the attacks on the issues and back them up with facts. If it looks like he’s launching a personal attack on the President, he’ll look undignified. He does have to grill the President about the ever-changing story about what really happened in Libya on Sept. 11. He also has to explain why a Romney White House could do better on Libya and the economy.
Debate Strategy: Obama – If I was coaching Mr. Obama I’d say, “Be presidential.” I know that’s a cliché, too, but running for the job of President and actually being the President are two very different things. He’s now representing the Office of the President, and not just himself. He has to have a certain dignity and decorum, and use that to his advantage. He can’t get in a verbal street fight with Romney. He also has to take ownership of his first four years, and not blame his predecessor. That really only has legs the first year in office. He has to make the case that while some economic signs are getting better, it’s still a struggle and the country would be better letting him finish what he’s started. He has to be measured and confident.
Can Romney Still Win? – I was on The Ronn Owens Show on KGO Radio in San Francisco this past week, and Ronn asked me that very question. The answer is yes, but Romney has to do three key things: 1) He needs to change the tone of his advertising, and be much more aggressive; 2) As mentioned above, he needs to attack, attack and attack in the debates; and 3) He needs to put Paul Ryan on the ground in Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire – only – for the remainder of the campaign, and keep Ryan out of Florida. The GOP can actually win without Florida, but it’s a tough road. Two weeks ago the race was 50-50 nationwide, but now I think it favors Obama 55 to 45, and the incumbent has the momentum.
Was Paul Ryan a VP Mistake? – Pretty soon I think pundits and campaign operatives are going to start asking: Did Romney pick the wrong running mate? I predicted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), would be the running mate from the start, but I was wrong. In hindsight, was Mitt Romney wrong? I say, yes, and here is why. Paul Ryan needed to help Romney win all three states where he has ties: His home state of Wisconsin; the neighboring state of Iowa; and the state of Ohio, where Ryan graduated from college. When Ryan was picked, all three states were dead even. Now President Obama has pulled into a healthy – although not insurmountable – lead in all three states. Ryan did not give the GOP a bounce at all! Also, two U.S. Senate seats in Wisconsin and Ohio that were trending Republican have now seen the Democratic candidate surge ahead.
The Paths We Cross – On a personal note this Sunday, I am struck by the amazing people I have met across the nation in my career. Saturday afternoon while watching the A’s play baseball at the Oakland Coliseum, I met my old friend Rudy Guzman, with whom I have enjoyed a number of A’s games over the years. Rudy and I became acquainted after his brother, Marine Corps Captain Randolph Guzman, was killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing. Rudy became an advocate for his brother and all of the other innocent victims. I interviewed him numerous times, including right after he witnessed the execution of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh, who committed that awful atrocity on our nation. Rudy’s brother died a hero serving our country, and Rudy became a hero defending the rights of the innocent victims. I am sad at how we met, but am glad I have made a dear friend. It’s one of the odd ironies of the news business. God bless the Guzman family.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on the world of news and politics. Click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.