Will rift report distract from new economic message?
September 17th, 2012
10:58 AM ET
10 years ago

Will rift report distract from new economic message?

Los Angeles (CNN) - After a tumultuous week marked by Republican hand-wringing over his comments on unrest in Libya and Egypt, Mitt Romney is going back to the beginning. The GOP nominee is refocusing his message on the issue repeatedly singled-out by campaign advisers as the one that will decide the election: the economy.

Based on excerpts released from a speech Romney is scheduled to deliver to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Monday in Los Angeles and two new TV ads, Romney appears to be starting the week with a simpler, easier to understand economic pitch to voters.

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"I know how to balance budgets. We balanced our budget in my business, in the Olympics, and every year in my state," Romney is expected to say in his address.

Romney echoes that message with plain language in his new ad. "Gotta balance the budget. You gotta cut the deficit," he says in the spot.

In one excerpt from his speech Monday, Romney will recommend "combining agencies and departments" of the federal government, a remedy for red ink he has rarely talked about publicly.

Romney's address is "consistent with what we've done on the economic message but also adding more details on exact measures to grow the economy," senior adviser Kevin Madden told CNN.

"Contrast that with Obama who has no second term agenda," Madden added.

With polls showing him trailing badly among Latino voters, Romney will also tailor his message on immigration. Absent from the excerpts released by his campaign is any talk of self-deportation.

The return to the economy follows days of open criticism from some top Republican strategists and pundits about Romney's comments on the recent diplomatic attacks in Libya and his overall strategy for winning in November.

A new distraction for the campaign emerged late Sunday night in a glaring report from POLITICO, which revealed some of the tensions brewing among Romney's top advisers. In the report, Romney strategist Stuart Stevens is blamed for some of the perceived mishaps at the Republican Convention, most notably Clint Eastwood's memorable, yet bizarre speech to an empty chair.

A senior Romney adviser dismissed the POLITICO piece as inside baseball gossip. "Stu is part of the team," the adviser said.

Reports of internal strife plagued John McCain's campaign in the weeks before the 2008 election. Stories about the infighting surrounding McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate eventually interfered with the Arizona senator's campaign message.

The POLITICO story on the Romney campaign is beginning to have the same effect, but for how long remains unclear.

On Twitter, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush and CNN contributor David Frum said the POLITICO piece "utterly misses the point."

"The Romney campaign has a messaging problem because it has a policy problem," Frum tweeted.

The Republican nominee, however, responded to the reports in an interview to air on Telemnundo Monday, saying he has a has a "terrific campaign" and there will be "no changes" to his team.

"I've got a terrific campaign," Romney said, according to a transcript of the interview. "My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work well with them. Our campaign is doing well."

Pressed further about whether he'll make adjustments to his campaign staff, Romney said: "No, I– I've got a good team."

And on a campaign conference call, top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie appeared to offer up a defense of the convention while discussing the agenda ahead.

"After a successful convention where people learned a lot about Mitt Romney as a person, they’re eager to hear more about policies."


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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (619 Responses)
  1. Jake

    Obama is nothing but a smooth talker and the Dems eat it up. What has Obama done since 2009? National debt is up to $16T. People on Food stamps at 47 Million. Unemployment has been over 8% for 43 months. When Obama took office there were 4.6M on Disability...today 9 Million. Avg # of jobs created per month in 2012= 97k which is down from 205K in 2011. And Obama's message is that more debt is the path to an economic recovery that imploded due to excessive debt. What has Obama done to fix anything in this country? Wake up.....this is not a football game. American has serious issues that need to be resolved and Obama's idea of dividing the country is going to result in a lot of pain.

    September 17, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. From_LA

    I change to Independent for this election because I was disappointed with the Democratic party. But the GOP offers nothing better. I do not know Romey, nothing specific. All I hear is critisism of Obama. After spending so much money on the campaign trail very little has grabbed my attention. He has no message, he has no sway. I'm afraid were stuck with do nothing Obama who helped big time banks and screwed middle class home owners, Obama who spend so much time on healthcare reform when Americans by the thousands were losing jobs daily.

    September 17, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. helix10461

    Can a tool retool himself?

    September 17, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. teeekay

    His tax problems will soon rear its ugly head when he releases his second tax return in a few days. May be he will retool his campaign back to National Security/China/religion/ birth certificate a t that time.

    September 17, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    If Mittens is such a great businessman, why doesn't he release his tax returns for the last 10 years (when he's been able to live off of $40 million/year in "investment" income) so the rest of us can pick up a few tips?

    What's that? He made his millions breaking up American companies, laying off American workers and shipping American jobs overseas? He's been off-shoring his money to avoid paying taxes, while folks who actually WORK for a living pay their fair share? He's been writing off as a "business expense" $75,000 for his wife's horse, along with Lord knows what other expenses only he and other rich folks get to do?

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. SDude

    Re-tool? What is there to retool? Romney has taken almost every position on almost every issue at one time or another, so all he has to do is shake that etch-a-sketch again and see what comes up today. You'd think that the Romney campaign might have figured out by now that it's not just the message that people don't trust – it's the messenger.

    September 17, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Boo

    This guy HAS NO PLAN......

    September 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. george washington

    Don't know much about reality
    Don't know much foreign policy
    Don't know much about that bible book
    Don't know much about the maid or cook

    But I do know Ryan's Economy
    And I know that if you vote for me
    What a Theocratic world this would be

    September 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Catherine

    In my view, there are two possible reasons Romney doesn't go beyond generalities in his campaign. He either does't have a plan and just wants to be president because of his ambition or he has a plan and he knows if he shares it with us, he won't get elected. Either one is unacceptable. He knows he screwed up royally with his comments about Egypt and Libya, even after considering his statement for 4 hours (where were his advisers???). Is this a guy we want running our foreign affairs? He insulted our allies during the Olympics, he said Russia was our number one enemy (what about Al Qaida?), and then he makes inaccurate comments during a national crisis because he thinks he can make political points. What were the Republicans thinking to nominate this guy? Even Gingrich has more savvy than this guy.

    September 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. zp

    There is no messaging problem with Romney, there is a governing problem with our president. The media just wants to divert attention away from a disastrous situation we are all facing – I don't understand why. The ambassador did not die in vain, and the American people are outraged by the mishandling of this. The president should have addressed the nation the very day it happened, not continue with his campaigning (especially in Las Vegas). His agenda will not prevail. The media cannot spin this. The destruction of our embassies and the lack of governing is disturbingly everpresent.

    September 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    The caption for the article photo should be, "Whatevs, I'll just keep lying and hope no one notices!"

    September 17, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. The Left Wing

    Romney is retooling is economic message!!!!!
    You mean is going to say something other than give all the money and power to the me and the other rich like me.
    Oh no, he is just going to say it more often, you say.
    Yes, that makes sense. He couldn't abandon his core, greed.

    September 17, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    Romney tried to keep the conversation about the economy. All his advisers told him that was Obama's weak spot. They failed as Ryan came on the scene right around when Akin went rouge (but somehow actually on message). The conversation continued on social issues thru Tampa, where Akin's ideas, if not his words, went on the republican mantle. By the time Romney wanted to get back to the economy, it was shown that his ideas, Ryan's budget, tax plan, Medicare ideas, etc were not only bad, but not economically sound. The president actually beat Romney at the one thing Romney was supposed to be good at.

    So of course, when a international security event went down, Romney raised, doubled-down and went all in on comments that if nothing else, showed that Romney was more concerned about political points than current events.

    Retooling can't help. Romney's only chance now it to do what he tried so hard not to do. Be specific. Funny how providing details for you plans is now the republican hail mary play.

    September 17, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. coyote

    he's not going to win. too many people see him as an elitist, corporate tool, light in the deep thinking category, and anti female.

    September 17, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Dave

    He's been running for president for about eight years now, and he's just now figuring out how to do it? It seems to me he is just stumbling from one self-inflicted crisis to another. I can't even imagine him in the White House.

    September 17, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Alan Johnson

    It could hardly be called a retool. Every time Romney demonstrates his incompetence on any other issue, it's another focus on the economy. His premise is that, being in priovate business, he is qualified on the economy. Wit the weak recovery, he's hoping voters will take a chance on him. but he offers no new ideas. It's just the old tried and true "give tax breaks to the rich and they will used the extra money to give the rest of us more jobs." The problem is we've tried this. The GOP recently enjoyed a long term of almost unchecked power, leading to the deep recession we are slowly recovering from. Thanks to a unanimous commitment to filibuster in the 2009-20011 US senate and it's control of the House after 2011, the Republicans have effectively stymied Obama's efforts at recovery and the party hopes voters will interpret Republican intransigence as Obama's failure. Romney gets no traction because his cynical "retools" of his publicly-expressed opinions haven't even convinced the GOP right, much less the rest of the country.

    September 17, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. NameGhost

    The reason Romney will lose is because he has proven himself unworthy of the world stage and inept in developing any sincere strategy for dealing with problems at home. He is spineless, feckless, unprincipled and a self serving empty suit. He wants to be president because of some Oedipal fixation, not because he wants to lead. His career success is based on bending the rules, manipulating the tax code, and hiding the truth. The only thing that qualifies him for is a cell in Leavenworth. The last skinflint like this was Nixon, and he's a saint compared to Romney.

    September 17, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Dan Pendleton

    Romney "re-tooling" his campaign? And he was such a great tool. Couldn't he have left well enough alone?

    September 17, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Ztom

    No longer excited about Obama, but the GOP certainly isn't giving us much of a choice this year. I think Obama is the lesser of two evils.

    If the GOP had been serious, we'd see Huntsman v. Obama.

    Guess I'll just hold my nose and pull the lever this year.

    September 17, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. JC

    I am a conservative and I am so tired of the "next" mentality of the GOP. Dole, McCain and now Romney.....is there really no one who is organized and smart and presentable? How the right is losing to a guy with our current President's record is beyond me....this election is not about the best person but a lack of choices. So sad

    September 17, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. JDinHouston

    Romney – I was against, then I was for it, then I actually thought of it first, and actually everyone is now agreeing with me.
    It is truly breathless to watch the ease with which Romney consistently does this political quadruple spin. Retooling his strategy is second nature for him.

    September 17, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. M

    If Mitt Romney was honest, his message would be, "I'm a rich guy who has attained much, and now, looking at my life, there's only one thing I want but haven't gotten yet: being president. So vote for me so I can have this thing that I want so much." Think about it. Why all the flip-flops, and why the hasty and overly-aggressive statements on the attacks on our embassies? It's actually pretty simple. Mitt Romney wants to be president, and he's willing to say anything that he thinks will bring him closer to that goal.

    September 17, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. LarryB

    Until he releases his tax returns, I don't care what the etch a sketch guy has to say. He takes both sides of every issue anyway.

    September 17, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. AGeek

    Refocus all you want, but Foreign Policy is still part of the job and Mittens demonstrated he is clearly incapable of performing that part.

    September 17, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. dbw

    I smell fear and desparation.

    September 17, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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