While former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney turns up the volume on his claim that President Barack Obama is obsessed with his own re-election, not the nation’s welfare, Democrats are changing their orchestrated portrayal of him as a flip-flopper, instead attacking him on issues where he has been most consistent.
“The only thing scarier than Mitt Romney’s flip-flops are the issues he has refused to bend on, where he’s refused to change: He has been rock-solid in siding with the privileged over the middle class,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared in a red-meat speech at a fundraiser for Iowa Democrats on Saturday.
“Whether it’s homeowners versus speculators, the auto-worker versus the financial engineer, or employees versus corporations, he’s been consistent on whose side he is on: if you are the hard-working middle class, you are left for the scrap heap,’ Emanuel declared.
That criticism is intended to capitalize on public suspicion of Romney’s career as an financial investor, and on the long-standing image of the GOP as the party of the rich.
The rhetoric’s principal intended targets are white voters who are not college-educated. They’re a critical swing-voting bloc in key states like Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, and Obama’s popularity among this group has plunged since 2008.
In recent weeks, Obama has tried to reach out to them. He has repeatedly touted his support for the U.S. auto industry, pledged allegiance to military veterans, and voiced suspicion of China’s aggressive currency rules that boost exports to the United States.
Obama has also used Washington’s deficit negotiations to call for tax cuts to middle- and lower-income workers, and to criticize suggested cuts to Medicare and other social programs.
Other Democratic advocates are still tagging Romney as a ‘flip-flopper.”
That charge spurs conflict in the Republican primaries and also damages his hope of presenting himself as a strong leader to non-ideological swing-voters during the general election.
The flip-flop charge, however, makes it more difficult for Obama’s surrogates to revive the traditional Democratic claims that their Republican opponent is an extremist.
That claim has been used repeatedly by Democrats to weaken GOP candidates’ support among upper-income professionals, many of whom are liberal on social issues.
While Democrats concentrate their criticism on Romney, GOP advocates aren’t turning the other cheek.
“The last thing the White House wants is Mitt Romney as an opponent — which explains their obsessive focus on him and their ‘all hands on deck’ approach to fundraising,” said a Nov. 18 statement from Gail Gitcho, Romney’s communications director.
“President Obama has failed to create a single net new job … The only job he cares about is his own,” said Gitcho’s statement.
Gitcho’s statement highlighted Emanuel’s speech, which cited Romney eighteen times, while barely mentioning Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann, or former Senator Rick Santorum.
The Romney campaign repeated the charge on Nov. 21, saying “The last thing the White House wants is to run against Mitt Romney — which explains its obsessive focus on him and the deployment of President Obama’s cronies to attack him.”
That release bolstered the Romney campaign’s claim of an Obama “obsession” by citing numbers showing the public’s declining confidence and the stalled economy.
“President Obama has failed to create a single net new job and has wreaked more havoc on the middle class … The only job he cares about is his own, so, instead of working to create jobs for Americans, he’s working to create distractions,” said the statement.