As he heads into another dreary week of campaigning and primary voting, former governor Mitt Romney is still looking for that game-changing moment that will transform him from the guy with the most delegates in his pocket to a dynamic frontrunner able to energize and inspire the GOP base.
Romney, no doubt, is tired of hearing all the carping from his rivals and the media that he is a humorless rich guy incapable of connecting with average voters -- a Massachusetts moderate masquerading as a conservative and a politician lacking any core beliefs who has flip-flopped more times than Charlie the Tuna. At the midpoint of this protracted and grueling contest, Romney leads the pack in delegates and money. But he is once again locked into a close contest with Santorum in today’s Illinois primary. And he is stuck in a public relations tar pit that is fueling talk about a possible brokered GOP convention in Tampa this summer if Santorum, Gingrich and Paul can somehow deny him a majority of delegates before then.
So what do the experts think he can do to salvage his campaign? We turned to a panel of experts on politics and policy for a list of “do’s and don’ts” for Romney’s flailing campaign. Here’s what they came up with:
Get Out of the Dog House
Okay, let’s begin with Romney’s most serious political crisis – living down the media uproar over his treatment of poor Seamus, the family Irish Setter, who was strapped in his carrier atop the Romney family Chevrolet station wagon for a 12-hour trek to a family cottage in Ontario way back in 1983.
Unfortunately for Romney, his son, Tagg, recounted the incident to the Boston Globe in 2007. Now Romney is berated as an insensitive lout by dog lovers and bloggers and is the butt of almost nightly jokes by late-night host David Letterman. So what to do?
Washington Republican political consultant Ron Bonjean says Romney “needs to use some self-depreciating humor as a weapon to disarm the critics” and “to let the air out of the tires on that perception” of insensitivity.
Bonjean says that Romney could joke that, whatever people think about the dog on the roof incident, it was much better than the scene in the National Lampoon movie “Vacation” in which Chevy Chase tied the family dog to the rear bumper of his station wagon during a cross-country trip.
Others believe fervently that the less said about the dog the better, and that the gaffe prone Romney would be barking up the wrong tree by trying address the flap head on. “When you defend, you are losing,” said former Senate Republican senior adviser Steve Bell. “Yes, deflection with humor can work and he has clever folks to help him do that. Unfortunately, he is far from a natural with humor.” Washington attorney Jan Baran, a Republican expert on campaign finance and strategy, urged Romney to completely ignore the controversy and focus on more important things. “Don’t complain. Don’t explain. Just solider on,” Baran told the Fiscal Times