TPM Reader LF wonders who Mitt’s going to be appealing to on Wednesday night …
Reading JL’s take on Mitt’s debate challenge and then stories of Donald Trump’s advice on birtherism, reports of Mitt practicing “zingers,” and Newt’s self-aggrandizing debate advice (highlighting his biggest applause lines) leave me wondering—who is Mitt’s audience on Wednesday night?
They want someone like Newt or Trump to finally call out Obama on his socialist/Kenya/Muslim ways. On the other hand, most voters are not going to like this—every time Newt got an applause line, folks in Chicago dared pray that he might win the nomination, because that might get you a strongly motivated 27%, but no one else. Most voters want to see a reasoned debate, perhaps winning on points, but someone whom they could trust as President.
This puts him in an awkward position. On the one hand, does he try to please the base, lest they declare him a failed candidate and abandon ship? Or does he try to connect with the swing voters and the mainstream, in hopes of gaining some ground in the polls? With his fading poll numbers (today’s numbers are better than some, but still not good), and his camp’s “helpful” efforts to raise expectations (Chris Christie’s declaration that Mitt would change the dynamics of the race is the first time he has actually seemed to have genuine 2016 ambitions), figuring out who he wants to play to Wednesday is even more critical.
So who is Mitt’s audience Wednesday night?
And here’s the worrisome thing, if I were a Republican. Could Mitt try to please both? That’s nearly impossible for most people, and particularly difficult for someone who has such difficulty in coming off as a human being. And I think there is a 50-50 chance that he might just try it.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.