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. Scales of Justice

    Where are Romney's tax returns?

    September 17, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Lean6

    Oh so the media is again willfully cooperating with a new etch-a-sketch makeover? Excuse me...I meant "retooling"?

    September 17, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Anthony

    Another Question. according to one of the few facts that did come out of romneys mouth, was that he wished to combine agencies within the federal government to cut spending. if this is true, then what agencies would you combine, and HOW MANY JOBS WILL BE LOST IN THE PROCESS?

    September 17, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    If you like GW Bush's economic policy, Dick Cheney's foreign policy and Rick Santorum's social policy, vote for Mittens.

    If you like the economic progress (including 30 straight months of private sector growth, the auto industry saved, housing coming back and the Dow over 13,000); being responsibly out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, along with greater support for our returning veterans and their families; and real health care reform, equal pay for woman, protecting a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body, and a repeal of DODT (allowing ALL Americans who want to serve their country to do so openly), then vote for President Obama and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

    It's that simple: Backward with Mittens or Forward with Obama.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 17, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. ghostriter

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is $100,000 middle income?

    MITT ROMNEY: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less. So number one, don’t reduce– or excuse me, don’t raise taxes on middle-income people, lower them. Number two, don’t reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest. The top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today. That’s principle one, principle two. Principle three is create incentives for growth, make it easier for businesses to start and to add jobs. And finally, simplify the code, make it easier for people to pay their taxes than the way they have to now.

    September 17, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. JameyCarothers

    It's very hard to "re-tool" a message if you don't have one to begin with.

    September 17, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    This is how Romney balances budgets without raising "taxes".

    A $3 Billion Shortfall

    Romney hasn't talked about those fees much in recent debates. But back when he ran for president four years ago, he defended his fee hikes at CNN's 2008 Republican presidential debate. "We had a $3 billion budget shortfall," Romney explained. "We decided we were not going to raise taxes, and we found that some fees hadn't been raised in as many as 20 years. These were not broad-based fees for things like getting your driver's license or your license plate for your car, but instead something like the cost of a sign on the interstate and how much it was going to cost to publish a McDonald's or a Burger King sign on the interstate. We went from, like, $200 a sign to $2,000 a sign," said Romney.

    But Widmer says the fees were broader than Romney suggests, adding that Romney's fee hikes were ones "the average citizen of Massachusetts would pay." He says Romney proposed raising tuition at state schools. He raised the fees for when you buy a house and register the deed with the state. Romney even proposed creating a fee for blind people, says Widmer: $10 to receive a state certificate of blindness. He also proposed boat registration fees and increases for state ice-skating-rink rentals. Altogether, Widmer says, the former governor pushed through dozens of higher fees.

    Romney increased corporate taxes too, together raising upwards of $700 million a year — a figure his GOP rival John McCain seized on four years ago. Romney contends he raised only $240 million in fees. The Romney campaign didn't make anyone available for an interview for this story but in a statement said that Romney did not raise taxes as governor of Massachusetts. As for raising corporate taxes, Romney says he was only closing tax loopholes.

    September 17, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Hillcrester

    Has Mitt decided where the "Summer White House" will be?

    In the Cayman Islands with his money?

    In France with his Mormon missionary work?

    In China with the jobs Bain created?

    In La Jolla with his elevated automobiles?

    In London where he can tell them how to run the Olympics?

    September 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. Tim

    As governor of Massachusetts, he won intense respect and loyalty from Secretary Jane Edmonds, a liberal Democrat and a black woman, whom he chose as cabinet secretary for education and workforce training. Jane Edmond's speech was another highlight at the convention:
    He is the real thing. Authentic. Honest, transparent, and inclusive. ...I wanted to be around him... where my energy, skills and talents would be channeled, along with others, towards the public good. ....The governor was in office, not for himself, or to promote himself, but for the people....During the four years I served in the cabinet, I saw him up close and personal. ...He is an amazing steward and leader. ... Unselfish leadership....Motivated by doing good for others. That is how I see Governor Romney. He is authentic....He brought out the best in me, and as President, he will bring out the best in our country.

    September 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. ted

    Funny all these far left Obama policies make perfect sense if we had a money tree, magic wand and no enemies, WELL WE DONT HAVE ANY OF THAT, vote for reality, vote MITT!

    September 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. DaveC

    Well, Mitt tried foreign policy twice and failed miserably. Now he is back on the economy. I bet his advisers are drinking more heavily than McCain's advisors did at this time in 2008. This guy and his goofy running mate is a slow moving train wreck.

    As Governor Crist said at the Democratic Convention, I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me. I was a die hard republican in the Reagan and first Bush days but Romney reminds me of Dukalkis and Mondale on the Democratic side without the nice side. Couldn't connect with voters and doesn't really know how to talk to anyone but the mirror. That was one thing about the second Bush. I hated him as a President but you could connect with him as a person. Romney has no connection and politics is personal.

    September 17, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. jimranes

    Mr. Romney, the damage is done. You are toast. The combination of your "misspeaks, gaffes and position to voucher Social Security" will be your demise. You have lost Pennsylvania and probably Florida too. Game over. Start preparing for your 2016 run, stay on message, make the success of RomneyCare in Massachusetts the centerpiece of your campaign (e.g. Massachusetts has a 5.8% unemployment rate now and in 2016 it will be between 1% and 2%. The bad news....you will probably have to run against Hilary Clinton and her husband.

    September 17, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Hillcrester


    In limbo with his undisclosed tax returns.

    September 17, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. ted

    PS Neighbors, I dont want Obama giving me your money, Ill work hard, live with in my means to pay my own bills. Thank you but no thanks!!!

    September 17, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Debra

    Ye Ole Republican Flip Flop! Can't even get a clear platform and we are only 50 days away!!

    September 17, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. boyamidumb

    Dear Willard (Mitt) I will vote for you no matter what, because I am not very smart and I believe that every "merican who collects any kind of support or assistance should be put in jale. Opps! Does the not paying your share of taxes mean you are getting government support? I am sorry. I take that back. It is for sure your right to change your story any time you need to and to not pay taxes. I know times are really tough and you are probably living check to check and you need the money we would pay you as president of the Younited states. I have just one little tiny question; can I pay my taxes at the same rate that you do? See, I work for myself too, and the goverment makes me pay "self employment tax" and all together, BEFORE all the other fees and taxes I pay to the Federal goverment – like gas taxes – and after I pay my taxes to my state, and my local taxes and property taxes, well it's tough to feed my dog anymore and I work about 7 hours a week right now, but I can do a bit more so that my dog can eat – the kids can take care of themselves, hey they can join the army for the upcoming new war if they are hungry – anyway If I could pay the % you pay it would really be nice instead of the 40% I pay to all the goverments (federal, state and local) for what they do to me and my neighbors, that would be really a nice thing. What do you think, can you put this in your "new message" to us voters????

    September 17, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. i'm confused

    So Mittens The Clown is again trying to "reinvent" himself...lol! It just killed me last week when he preempted the BEATING that President Obama IS GOING TO HAND HIM at the upcoming debates by reported the "challenge" that he is most concerned with going into the debates as "the lies that he knows President Obama will use"....LMFAO!!!!! The ONLY reason Mittens The Clown has attempted to label President Obama as generally dishonest ahead of the debates is because he himself is A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR. Regardless of how much Mittens The Clown lies during these debates, he KNOWS that he is going to get SLAUGHTERED by President Obama!!! That's why Mittens The Clown is so shook right now... You can expect his comments & behavior to become increasingly erratic the closer we get to the inevitable on November 6th! =)

    September 17, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Tim

    Bob Dole: “I think he’s got what it takes, with his proven business background, and his character is unassailed." "We’ve worked with the White House on a couple of issues,” Dole noted, including combating hunger in the United States and around the globe.

    "In an age of incivility, Mr. Romney’s “acts of kindness” are refreshing."

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. maximus

    Romney has a message problem because he has no message. His lines of "I'll balance the budget" without any specifics on exactly how he'd balance the budget is useless, trivial, and laughable. My 13 yr old daughter can say the same things, it's not like anyone would vote her in for president.

    Blah blah blah......too many words. Not enough substance. I don't like everything obama has done, but, he's a president interested in people. Romney is most assuredly interersted in anything but the average american. That alone means I in all good conscience can not and will not vote for Romney. By default, obama gets my vote!

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Ajax

    is this Flip's or Flop's turn?

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. DancingInPDX

    Maybe he can retool his personality at the same time. Mitt is about as likeable as the spoiled rich brat in Willy Wonka.

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC


    Dave- While I agree with your opinion of Romney, The Olympics do not receive any continuous funding from the government. The Olympics are a non-profit organization that relays on funding from private donation, corporate sponsorship, ticket sales, and advertisers.
    Wrong. You have confused Olympic teams with Olympic Organizing Committees. One has nothing to do with the other.

    The US Olympic Teams did not organize the Salt Lake Winter Games. An independent group named SLOC, Salt Lake Organizing Committee, pursued, promoted and hosted the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games.

    Correct. The Salt Lake Games were supposed to have been 100% privately financed. Salt Lake bid for and won the Games in the wake of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, during the austerity times of Speaker Gingrich. No public funds were to be used. Private donations and investments were running far behind schedule, so SLOC called private investment guru Mitt Romney for his investment skills at raising capital, not for his management skills. He eventually balanced the books courtesy of US taxpayers through a $1.3 billion dollar grant. Investors did not lose a dime, BTW. They profited handsomely.

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. true blue

    What do you expect from a tool. He the tool for the rich and out of touch. flip flopping tool ( door knob ) they all getting a turn

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. Squigman

    Retool this. Try to make me vote republican. It ain't gonna happen. But you're welcome to retool if you believe it necessary.

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. vdrummin

    He doesn't have to retool he is a tool, he has no plan should be that diffcult to change it. What ever lie suits the day, those are the words that Romney will say .. That rymes...

    September 17, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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