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Elspeth
10-24-2012, 05:33 PM
How Bill Clinton May Have Hurt the Obama Campaign (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/how-bill-clinton-may-have-hurt-the-obama-campaign/?hp)

From the NY Times: Matt Bai

When the histories of the 2012 campaign are written, much will be made of Bill Clinton’s re-emergence. His convention speech may well have marked the finest moment of President Obama’s re-election campaign, and his ads on the president’s behalf were memorable.

But there is one crucial way in which the 42nd president may not have served the 44th quite as well. In these final weeks before the election, Mr. Clinton’s expert advice about how to beat Mitt Romney is starting to look suspect.

You may recall that last spring, just after Mr. Romney locked up the Republican nomination, Mr. Obama’s team abruptly switched its strategy for how to define him. Up to then, the White House had been portraying Mr. Romney much as George W. Bush had gone after John Kerry in 2004 – as inauthentic and inconstant, a soulless climber who would say anything to get the job.

But it was Mr. Clinton who forcefully argued to Mr. Obama’s aides that the campaign had it wrong. The best way to go after Mr. Romney, the former president said, was to publicly grant that he was the “severe conservative” he claimed to be, and then hang that unpopular ideology around his neck...

...It’s not hard to understand why Mr. Obama and his advisers took Mr. Clinton’s advice to heart; to disregard it would be like telling Derek Jeter, “Hey man, appreciate the input, but I think I know how to make that flip play from the hole just fine on my own.” Nor is it hard to see how Mr. Clinton, given his own personal experience, may have reached his conclusion.

After all, if you’re Bill Clinton, you have to look at it this way: for your entire career as a candidate, other politicians tried to paint you as waffling and slippery, and not once did it actually work....

....For a while this summer and into the fall, the Obama-Clinton strategy seemed to be working flawlessly. That’s because, almost inexplicably, Mr. Romney continued to run as if he were still contesting the Republican primaries. But in recent weeks, starting with the first debate, the challenger has made a brazen and frantic dash to the center, and Mr. Obama has often seemed off-balance, as if stunned that Mr. Romney thinks he can get away with such an obvious change of course so late in the race. Which, apparently, he can.

The bottom line here is that one can over-think this whole notion of framing your opponent. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the line of attack that works best is the one that really rings true. In the case of Mr. Romney, whatever his stated positions may be, the idea that he’s a far-right ideologue, a kind of Rush Limbaugh with better suits and frosty hair, just doesn’t feel especially persuasive.....