Is Mitt Romney channeling Meg Whitman?

Is Mitt Romney channeling Meg Whitman?

Sept. 25, 2012

By John Seiler

Maybe Mitt Romney will put in a boffo appearance at the three debates in October and go on to win. But for now, his campaign clearly is floundering.

Remember Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor in 2010? You probably want to forget it. She certainly does. Its campaign theme was similar to Romney’s: “I’m rich. I’ll create jobs. Vote for me.”

So far, it seems like Romney in 2012 is channeling Whitman in 2010. Play the following two YouTubes, one from each campaign:


Part of the problem is that Republican campaign consultants nowadays are an inbred lot. It used to be that, say, the 1980 Reagan campaign was a lot different from that of Gerald Ford in 1976, or Nixon in 1972.

For Romney, campaign aides who worked for Whitman include: Finance Chair  Spencer Zwick, Deputy Political Director Tod Cranney, Western Political Director Sarah Nelson, Deputy Coalitions-Women Adviser Courtney Johnson, Deputy Communications Director for Regional Press  Sarah Pompei, Deputy Director of Candidate Operations Matt Hall and Meg herself as national finance co-chair. Pompei was with Romney in 2008 and is back, after helping Meg lose.

And my colleague Steven Greenhut in 2010 pointed out that Meg’s campaign echoed John McCain’s losing 2008 bid.

For some perspective from 2010, on I criticized Pompei for insulting Rep. Tom McClintock, the great California conservative. The Romney campaign has done something similar, dissing Ron Paul and his followers so badly they bolted from the convention.

I’ve watched both the Whitman and Romney campaigns closely, and they really do have a diffuse message. Romney has a six-point plan that he’s touting. (Although sometimes I’ve seen it as a five-point plan.) Meg had something similar.

Reagan’s example

On cutting taxes,  on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Romney was evasive on the loopholes he would close to restore revenues. He doesn’t get it — even though Reagan showed him how.

In 1980, the Gipper campaigned on a platform of a 33 percent tax cut, keeping the deductions for charity, homes, etc. It was simple. Voters easily understood it — and they believed him.

Once elected, he kept his pledge by cutting taxes 25 percent — close enough for government work. (Yes, I know that later he increased taxes in some areas; but overall he cut taxes during his eight years in office.)

Reagan’s tax cuts formed the basis of the prosperity we enjoyed until the mid-2000s collapse.

What about the deficits that so concern Romney? It’s true that’s a bigger concern now because of the $16 trillion debt. But Romney should simply say, over and over: “First, I’m going to cut your taxes 33 percent.”

The second debate is a Town Hall format with questions from the audience. It could go like this:

Citizen: “You’re rich and will pay less taxes under your program.”

Romney: “Sir, please think in your mind how much you now pay in federal income tax. After I’m elected, you’ll have a third of that returned to you for your family. What would you spend that on?”

Citizen: “Ah, my son needs a new uniform for Pop Warner. My daughter needs braces.”

Obama: “Well, my tax increase will fund a new program for sports uniforms and Obamadentistry.”

This stuff isn’t hard, folks.

Here’s the Great Communicator showing how to defeat a sitting president, from a Reagan-Carter debate in 1980:


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  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 25 September, 2012, 10:08

    “I’m rich. I’ll create jobs. Vote for me.”

    You left out the part where she spent $140 MILLION of her own cash. You will not win ANY election by spending so much money of your own. She should have limited herself to say $25 million and the rest from contributions, play the cards as they deal out.

    Al Cheeki tried to buy the Gov jobs 20 or so years ago and was the original Whitman, and he came in 3rd after outspending everyone else by 5 t0 1, if any billionaire in the future needs a lesson Cheeki and Whitman are it.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 25 September, 2012, 12:40

    About Romney – stick a fork in him, he’s done. This guy is to charisma what Rosie O’Donnell is to femininity. The parallels to Whitman are quite apt except Mitt the Git isn’t spending boatloads of his own money which at least makes him smarter than Whitman. Both are a couple of cardboard cutout corporate empty suits devoid of any capacity to inspire an electorate. Reagan was successful primarily because as an actor he knew instinctively how to present himself in an entertaining way to voters. In that respect he was just like FDR, JFK, Clinton and Obama. It’s all about the superficial theatrics, that’s what people respond to.

    When will the Retardpublicans learn how to do politics? The road to success in this regard is simple. Think of the voters as a bunch of childish, ignorant, credulous boobs. Avoid the truth at all cost. Paint a pretty picture of rainbows and unicorns and little puppy dogs. Describe your opponent in the harshest and most inflammatory terms while insisting on civility. Kiss a lot of babies, slap a lot of backs and grease a lot of palms. Politics is all about theatrical presentation and style. It’s all about telling people the lies they want to hear. It has very little to do with substance or specifics.

    Most important for the aspiring politico – NEVER GIVE A SUCKER (oops, I meant voter) AN EVEN BREAK!

    Reply this comment
  3. Hondo
    Hondo 25 September, 2012, 21:04

    The whole point of the Romney campaign seems to be to avoid offending anybody in any way. Romney has been on the defensive in this campaign from day one, even tho it is Obama who has a hundred times more mistakes to answer for. The death of the ammbasador in Lybia was an obvious gigantic failure in security. Romney has said nothing. His country club attitude ( we don’t talk about such things in polite company)is not meant for a national presidential campaign against such a vulnerable candidate like Obama. Perhaps he believes it is impolite to politicize gigantic mistakes by your opponent that lead to horrific events like fast and furious. BUT THAT’S THE WHOLE REASON FOR HAVING FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND ELECTIONS. The reason the dems won in 2006 and 2008 is because they weren’t afraid to speak up about the gigantic mistakes of the republicans.
    Romney doesn’t have to go dirty or birther to crush Obama. He has to talk about the tough issues and the gigantic mistakes of Obama. All that seems to be off the table for this country club Republican.
    In a presidential election you win from the top down. So many candidates down ballot are dependent on a strong run by the presidential candidate. They are in shock at Romney’s weak run.
    It is almost too late to go strong. If he waits much longer to go after Obama, it will seem desperate and dirty.
    Obama on the other hand had no problem accusing Romney of causing cancer months ago.

    Reply this comment

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