Never underestimate how much of a campaign’s tempo can be affected by arbitrary facts of the lives of the reporters who cover it. In this case, campaign reporters are coming off two weeks of convention reporting and travel. So there’s been a weird calm of sorts over the campaign. What has turned people’s attention, though, is increasing — though still incomplete — signs that President Obama got a significant bounce out of his convention after Gov. Romney got little if any.
But in addition to that there’s been a jagged and ragged quality to the Romney campaign over the last couple days.
Start with the story unfolding over just the last couple hours in which Romney first appeared to say he’d keep some aspects of ‘Obamacare’ and cover pre-existing conditions and then just as quickly said he wouldn’t. The gist of what happens seems to be a mix of Romney using some technically correct that misleading language that reporters didn’t catch and Romney’s simply flipping back and forth in a matter of a few hours.
Then yesterday Romney condemned last year’s debt deal which congressional Republicans and few more prominently than his own vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan helped author last year.
And finally, also yesterday, Romney seemed to be push in a culture war direction attacking the President’s apparent disrespect for God and seemingly accusing him of wanting to take God off the nation’s currency.
The move in a culture war direction especially struck me as a response, perhaps a panicked one, to the growing perception that the GOP convention was a dud and the Dems was a big success. The others showed Romney stepping into exactly those policy thickets where he quickly gets crosswise with his base and independent, persuadable voters rather than refining and hitting home his message about an bleak economy. It’s almost as if they came off the convention from which they’d expected a break out move and, not having gotten it, don’t know what to do.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.