The juxtaposition between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama couldn’t have been starker.
Romney delivered a solid, if perfunctory, victory speech. Later in the night, President Obama appeared on Jimmy Fallon.
One one hand, this was not remarkable. Even Richard Nixon appeared on “Laugh In.” And Romney was on the ballot in five states — of course he was going to deliver a political speech.
But nothing happens in politics by accident. Obama didn’t have to go on Fallon Tuesday night. And so, perhaps the dichotomy can serve as a signal — a sort of microcosm — of the coming general election.
Republicans, of course, will claim the contrast favors them — that last night demonstrated a serious candidate talking about serious issues — versus someone “slow-jamming” with a comedian (while the economy crumbles).
But it also reminds me that the Obama vs. Romney clash creates a PR/optics problem for Republicans: Policy aside, Obama seems cool — while Romney seems more like The Man. (This might not matter. Voters might decided they personally like Obama, but that they want a technocrat to fix the economy. Sometimes we need The Man!)
Brand images, though, often outlast political campaigns. And from a purely superficial standpoint, the GOP — especially if Romney makes a milquetoast running mate pick — risks reinforcing its image as your father’s party.
This, of course, is another argument for Marco Rubio.