The fallout over Cory Booker going off the reservation over the attack ads against Mitt Romney and his Bain Capital days continues to mount. The GOP, ever Johnny on the spot, have run the now infamous Meet the Press moment over and over in their own ads in an obvious attempt to undermine any potential traction the Obama Administration might have had with their strategy. Booker himself has gone out of his way to backtrack from the comments and has condemned the Republicans for taking his words out of context. Progressives are understandably perturbed over Booker’s perceived betrayal of the President.
At the risk of once more upsetting the apple cart, my take on this is that Booker might have been doing Obama a huge favor with his obvious brain fart. Like it or not, the Bain attack ads, though accurate, are not going to be all that effective against Mitt Romney. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask the now former Republican candidates who tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to brand Romney as a vulture capitalist. Newt Gingrich spent a considerable part of his campaign blasting the former Massachusetts governor, to no avail. It didn’t work during the Republican primaries; it isn’t going to work in the general election.
Yes Bain Capital gutted many companies they bought; yes they sold off most of the assets of those companies and, in the process, fired a good many people. But, as they say in New York, that and a subway token will get you a ride on the 7th Avenue Express. At the end of the day, Romney made a considerable fortune for his investors and he can point out, perhaps with some degree of accuracy, that many of those companies that were broken apart would’ve eventually failed anyway. Anyone who has a 401k – and that includes the majority of the country – knows full well that the only thing that matters to investors is the stock price of a company. Yes people want jobs, but they also want to protect their retirement accounts. If Romney can make the case that he was simply protecting his investors’ earnings – in other words being a good steward – this whole thing could boomerang on Obama in a hurry.
Attack ads that strike at the heart of accomplishments, no matter how underhanded and nefarious those accomplishments might seem, simply don’t poll well with independent voters. Sure they gin up the base, but, in the end, they can prove costly. What the Obama Administration should be doing is going after Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts, which is hardly spectacular, and pounce on his flip-flopping, which goes to the heart of leadership, or lack thereof. Real leaders don’t change their positions like the weather in Florida. And Romney has had enough changes of heart to have a four-man debate all by himself.
So, if I’m President Obama, here’s what I would do. I would sit down with my campaign staff and draw up another blueprint for how to combat and defeat Mitt Romney that refrains from ever mentioning Bain Capital; then I’d sit down and write a nice thank you letter to Cory Booker. He might just have saved your bacon.