The Mitt Romney campaign lived one week on the defensive for two reasons:
- in one hand: shadows in his management at Bain Capital: speculation about buying and closing businesses, mass layoffs and outsourced jobs created outside the United States;
- on the other hand: the failure to disclose his tax returns in recent years, and the lack of explanation of the bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
In both issues the campaign recurrent attitude is #oldpolitics style: between two options -transparency or not – the minor damage calculation is imposed. Not making public tax returns and accounts havens is less bad than going public.
Questions about management at Bain Capital and tax returns, are accompanying the Republican campaign for a while. Even were recurring themes during the 26 televised primary debates between the Republican candidates.
But due to the discomfort of the campaign, it slippery and pulled the ball forward, trying these issues to be forgotten, but cyclically they will return to the agenda with an increasing pressure subjecting the candidate and his inner-circle.
Which outcome do you get? If you don’t explain who you are, opponents will.
Ann Romney said: “We released so far what you need to know“. The first lady candidate knows that when you’re a Public Person and you run for president over your country, voters & media decides where to put the limit on what is needed to know. The New Activist, demanding oversight and Digital Society will block anything to continue like once was. The rules of the game are new.
Those who want to hold onto the past and are unable to guarantee accessibility and transparency, will be far away from winning the citizens trust and votes.
Failing to give answer and not facing the issues, in order not to damage the campaign itself, seals a particular leadership style. If this information had been released months ago the campaign could control the timing, intensity, reaction and damage control management’s own history: they had had the opportunity to inform/prepare/educate the voters, allowing them to know first hand candidate explanations and not being at the mercy of the rumors mill or what media publish. Now they face a distrusted environment to explain their message.
As you approach November 6, the pressure will be multiplied even more. The longer it takes to make it public, worse. They can only go behind and on the defensive.
Last Friday’s criminal massacre in Aurora (CO) has overshadowed the campaign and changed its course. The two candidates suspended their electoral agenda and while is not yet openly recognized if arms control regulations debate will be on the presidential campaign, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, has called the two presidential candidates position on the matter.
The reactions of the two candidates:
Again: the repeating history of innocent victims. In most cases anonymous people, others public people like Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Both campaigns have been limited to pay tribute, sympathy and willingness to accompany the families’ pain and sorrow right now. “We can never understand what it takes a citizen to terrorize the rest of people” the president said.
Is it enough? Does the public should accept with resignation that this will happen and there is nothing to do but pay tribute for yesterday, today and tomorrow victims?
Politics must be courageous. And if it is legitimate for the NRA to defend its corporate interests, protected under the 2nd Constitutional Amendment, and to promote the vote for the candidates who support their mission -Republicans in their vast majority- is also worth taking decisions based on protecting innocent lifes: aren’t we familiar with the pro-life concept?
The debate doesn’t come down only to pass gun control laws and put restrictions on who can access to weapons and ammunition. The whole debate is wider and related to values, ideas, education, civil culture, social exclusion and poverty. But also of Political fanatism: the permanent tension, a lab designed ideological intoxication environment, which incites to hatred and fear, which despises and doesn’t respect diversity, discredits political choices, leadership and values for the simple fact of being different …
We know that the more meaningful Republicans speakers’ icons will work so that nothing changes. But standing still continues to condemn innocent people. So far the president’s response was very warm & uncompromised: after the first reaction, in his Saturdays weekly address ONLY repeated the brief statement from Myers (FL).
The president should take the flag challenging this status quo. Without fear and unambiguously: “Life is worthier than any constitutional amendment.” It fits squarely with his career, who he is, what he wants, and which ideas defend and who represents.
We do not know if the debate over gun control is here to stay and for how long. After the tragedy of Aurora another focus will be on the spot. It’s more than likely to return to the questions about Mitt Romney at Bain Capital, tax returns and accounts havens.
The Campaigns will face crises, as well momentums, offensive or defensive issues, good and not so good weeks, but what they must never forget is the frames building that define the pitch of the main ideas debate: who the Candidate is, what he stands for, which core values and the people who you will to represent.
May these images be an example:
In the next “Campaign Diaries” update we’ll analyze the -imminent- announcement about the person who will join Republican ticket and the Romney’s momentums advantage over Obama. The race is so close, that everything counts to declare victory.
@aleixcuberes is an @ingenia_pro partner & consultant.