Mitt Romney as Regular Joe? Lessons from the Al Gore campaign
Democrats are going after Mitt Romney the same way that Republicans went after Al Gore, says a former Bush White House adviser. What can Mitt Romney learn from history?
Gallery Repeat contender: Mitt Romney
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Decoder had a recent email exchange with Mark Pfeifle, part of the Republican National Committee’s message machine in the 2000 election cycle, in which Pfeifle noted some strong parallels between how Republicans went after Al Gore and how Democrats are now trying to characterize Mitt Romney.
For example, back in August, Romney tweeted about eating breakfast at Subway and flying commercial (on low-cost provider Southwest Airlines, no less):
"Thanks @subwayfreshbuzz for breakfast. Better than usual campaign diet of morning donuts."
“When Governor Romney decided that he would say or do anything to get elected, you have to imagine he didn’t think it would involve flying in non-private aircraft and eating at Subway. In fairness, as someone who made a vast fortune laying off American workers his identity is indeed in need of a makeover. (And quadrupling his beach home in an exclusive San Diego neighborhood isn’t exactly helping that effort.)
But in his attempted makeover, Governor Romney is simultaneously highlighting a key weakness: he is willing to do or say anything to become President, even if it means changing his positions, his appearance, and his sandwich.”
As Pfeifle points out, these are very reminiscent of “the old attacks we used - successfully - more than a decade ago against Vice President Al Gore. If you replace Romney with Gore, it’s almost a complete copycat of what our team did in 2000.” (Check out the old Glen Beck video below, mocking Al Gore’s efforts to appear “more human.”)
It’s also quite similar to the way the Bush team ran against John Kerry back in 2004. Both Gore and Kerry were presented as utterly inauthentic - lacking core convictions not only when it came to political issues, but as a matter of basic character. As Pfeifle puts it:
"Gore tried too hard to be a Regular Joe and people caught on to it. The Republicans have to be authentic and believable. Nobody thinks Romney likes the middle seat in coach on a flight to New Hampshire or would rather have a cold cut combo than Beef Wellington…. People see phony from a mile away. "