Politics

David Brooks: Romney won by shifting from ‘rugged individualist’ to ‘compassionate conservatism’

Photo of Jeff Poor
Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

Pundits on both the right and left agree that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney scored a win with Wednesday night’s debate. New York Times columnist David Brooks said on PBS following the debate that Romney’s strong showing over President Barack Obama came because he was willing to discuss topics that are often considered taboo for Republicans.

“They have their plans — they keep talking about their plans,” Brooks said. “Some of it is vague. Some of it’s frankly non-existent. But you know, I think they were trying to signal values and one of the reasons I thought Romney did reasonably well was: When’s the last time you heard a Republican talk about the need for government regulation? He went there.”

Brooks suggested it was “compassionate conservatism” that aided the former Massachusetts governor, and said that shift could help him win support from working-class women in battleground states.

“He talked about not cutting taxes for the rich, overall,” Brooks continued. “He talked about — he did a lot of compassionate conservatism, more than he’s ever done before. And clearly, one of the weaknesses for the Romney campaign has been, especially, white working-class women in the swing states and I’m not sure how much he’ll have actually swung them.”

Brooks told PBS viewers he detected a change from the message Romney conveyed at the Republican convention barely a month ago.

“But it was a much less ‘I’m a corporate, you know, rugged individualist’ than we saw at the Republican convention,” he continued. “It was much more open, much more flexible, a little less hard-to stereotype as sort of this, you know corporate-raider type guy.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter