Visual source: Newseum
Sara Murray at The Wall Street Journal:
Mitt Romney may be conceding — the likability battle, that is.
Eric Fehrnstrom and Peter Flaherty, senior advisers to the Romney campaign, acknowledged in the starkest terms yet that instead of trying to win the likability race against President Barack Obama, they’ll focus on their candidate’s credentials. [...] Mr. Romney made the point in his own words in campaign stops Friday as he encouraged young people to judge candidates on their records — not the “brilliance of their words.” [...]
It’s a risky gamble. In presidential elections voters tend to opt for the candidate they like the best. And because of that the Romney campaign has dabbled in strategies to make Mr. Romney more relatable. They brought back more revealing town hall events, the candidate’s body man launched a blog to help humanize Mr. Romney and Ann Romney (the more personable half of the couple) is making more appearances on the stump.
Now that Mitt Romney has emerged as the likely GOP presidential nominee, congressional Republicans increasingly are taking their cues from him even if it causes heartburn and grumbling among conservatives unhappy about having to beat a tactical retreat.
That dynamic was on full display last week as House Speaker John Boehner coped with the dust-up generated by President Obama over student loans and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped Democratic attempts to brand Republicans as soft on the issue of violence against women.
It’s a defensive game for Republicans, determined to avoid their stumbles last year when they lost the political battle over renewing Obama’s payroll tax cut.
Charles Babington at The Associated Press:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making campaign promises that could produce an economic miracle — or a more predictable list of broken vows.
Romney says he wants to put the nation on a path to a balanced budget while also cutting an array of taxes, building up the Navy and Air Force and adding 100,000 active-duty military personnel. He says he would slash domestic spending and reduce tax loopholes but has offered few details.
His comments raise eyebrows in Congress, long accustomed to easier-said-than-done promises. And even some conservatives have their doubts.
Ann McFeatters at The Dickinson Press:
And now we have the great loosening-up campaign.
The problem? Nobody can really imagine living next door to Mitt Romney, let alone exchanging house keys with him in case of emergency. That is how Howard Baker, the Republican former senator from Tennessee and all-around good guy, once described a hypothetical perfect presidential candidate.
So now that Romney has locked in the GOP nomination, his staff is trying desperately to make him seem more normal. It will be many moons before this capitalist wears a tie again.
Jules Whitcover at The Chicago Tribune:
It was going to happen anyway, but Mitt Romney’s wealth and history as a healer of troubled corporations doubly assures that this year’s presidential campaign will see a return in spades to good old “class warfare.” [...]
Whether class warfare is the rich taking advantage of the poor, as the Democrats paint the issue, or the poor enviously blaming the hard-working rich, as the Republican like to define it, the stage is set for another rerun of the debate that has fueled both parties at least since the days of FDR’s New Deal.
Well before then, the progressive notions of Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and his trust-busting campaign against “malefactors of great wealth” cast the rich as persecutors of the working man. Indeed, TR also preached that the greedy rich industrialists imperiled the very existence of the country in which they practiced their selfish creed.
Decades later, however, the Democrats laid claim with a vengeance to the class warfare argument. In the midst of the Great Depression, as Wall Street fat cats took one-way leaps out the windows of Manhattan skycrapers and the jobless formed breadlines in the streets below, warfare between the classes became a staple of American politics.
Frank Bruni in The New York Times:
FOR a long time and for a lot of us, “college” was more or less a synonym for success. We had only to go. We had only to graduate. And if we did, according to parents and high-school guidance counselors and everything we heard and everything we read, we could pretty much count on a career, just about depend on a decent income and more or less expect security. A diploma wasn’t a piece of paper. It was an amulet.
And it was broadly accessible, or at least it was spoken of that way. With the right mix of intelligence, moxie and various kinds of aid, a motivated person could supposedly get there. College was seen as a glittering centerpiece of the American dream, a reliable engine of social mobility.
I’m not sure things were ever that simple, but they’re definitely more complicated now. And that was an unacknowledged backdrop for the pitched debate last week about federal student loan rates and whether they would be kept at 3.4 percent or allowed to return to 6.8 percent. That was one reason, among many, that it stirred up so much anxiety and got so much attention.