Republicans have begun to run consistently on offense, taking advantage of Democratic mistakes to seize the initiative and set the parameters of the campaign debate.
The GOP response to the Democratic gaffes resonates because the mistakes reflect real problems with the case President Obama is making for his reelection.
The most recent error was the failure of several top Obama surrogates, including White House senior adviser David Plouffe, Obama campaign guru David Axelrod, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to clearly state on the Sunday news programs that the country is better off than it was four years ago.
O’Malley even answered “no,” pleading, “but that’s not the question of this election.”
Of course, the goal of the Obama presidency hasn’t been to make you better off in four years. It’s been to bring you to The Promised Land of “free” health care, solar paneled buildings, and the transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor.
And that’s why Obama’s advisers HAVEN’T EVEN PREPARED for the question.
The Romney operation wasted no time getting on the case. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan was in North Carolina Monday declaring, “He can’t tell you that you’re better off.”
The Washington Post ran a story this morning headlined, “‘Are you Better Off’ Question Takes Center Stage,” an indication the issue will interfere with Democratic themes for the convention, which starts today.
The story notes:
Republicans plan to continue to press the “Are you better off?” argument during a counter-convention in NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte that will feature daily news conferences, Web videos and high-profile speakers including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
The “Are you better off debate” being waged on Republican terms comes on the tail end of a Republican convention devoted to President Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” remark.
Obama was probably referring to roads and bridges. But in the context of the speech, in which he asserted that the successful think, “well, it must be because I was just so smart,” and in the wake of other times in which he has showed hostility toward financial success, the phrase struck a nerve and Republicans have been able to capitalize.
Republicans have also been working over the endless stream of material presented by Vice President Joe Biden.
The vice president is a one-man gaffe factory that runs day and night, and the plant manager at Obama headquarter in Chicago doesn’t seem able to turn it off. Biden will continue to provide opportunities for Republicans to run on offense for the rest of the campaign.