As Evan McMorris-Santoro describes in this new piece, the GOP’s message of inclusion this week has been marred by a series of race and gender related ‘incidents’. Some serious, some not so serious. But there’s a deeper dynamic here that rests in the balance as the Romney campaign pushes ahead with a more hard-edged race focused campaign, especially with the on-going effort to disenfranchise minority voters in critical states around the country.
Put simply, when you turn up the heat, it gets hard to keep all the stew in the pot.
Or to put it more poetically, if you keep going on about how President Obama has never had a real job or worked a day in his life and loves welfare and barely knows what it means to be an American, well … some good folks may get the wrong idea.
Something like this happened back in 2008, you’ll remember. Without any other way to win the campaign, the McCain campaign resorted to a dog whistling campaign about President Obama’s foreign-ness, Muslim-ness and radicalism — mainly, though not exclusively in the mouth of Sarah Palin.
But ordinary supporters don’t necessarily have the discipline or savvy of campaign hands and suddenly they can start saying things a bit too clearly, which can lead to some awkward moments. Like that time that McCain was at a townhall and suddenly this old woman — shaken in her shoes — starts saying how worried she is with Obama being an Arab and all. It was a bit too much for the old guy and he hastily grabbed the mic out of her hands.
As I noted yesterday, the Romney campaign loves its welfare ads, and they should by some measure since they seem to be effective. And they’ve made clear that this is their road through November. But as the convention has shown, supporters do weird things, say weird things. It’s the danger of stoking race, bigotry and xenophobia.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.