In my earlier piece on yesterday's unfortunate events, I concentrated on the big picture issues, the meaning behind them and where things are likely going.
But I also promised you that I'd go into the political and strategic reasons later behind Obama's victory and Romney's defeat, and a few lessons we can learn.
I want to be very clear here. Mitt Romney, for the most part ran a disciplined and impressive campaign, and conducted himself well. However, he made several unforced errors that were blown out of proportion as they would be for any Republican, and there were a couple of big things he simply had no control over.
First, one of the big things he had no control over was what I call the media filter.From the every beginning a significant element of the media had obviously chosen sides, and until the first debate, President Obama had virtually free rein to cement a negative image of Governor Romney in his half of the electorate.
Examples? Here are a few of the more important ones:
As a matter of fact, the president's claim that he called Benghazi an 'act if terrorism' during his Rose Garden speech was in fact false (he made a brief, general allusion to 'acts of terrorism' the next day after the Rose Garden speech, at a fund raiser in Colorado)and Crowley herself admitted she'd made a mistake, conveniently after the debate was long over.
But it was enough to knock Romney off his stride for ten minutes or so and change the entire perception of the debate. Even worse, Romney didn't respond publicly and make an issue of it publicly, using the actual transcripts. And he downplayed Benghazi afterwards, with the media happy to go along with him.
CBS did something even more egregious, cutting out footage from an interview with the president the day after the Benghazi attack where the president refused to call it a terrorist attack, and then holding that footage until the day of the election.
Had I been Governor Romney, I would have realized that the fix was going to be in after Obama's failure and cancelled the second and third debates, saying simply that I saw no further purpose to them. And I would have been hammering Benghazi from day one.Lesson to be learned? Control the media and the agenda, not the other way around.
The second big thing Governor Romney had no control over was Hurricane Sandy. Fully 42% of the voter said that Barack Obama's little photo op affected their vote because he suddenly looked 'presidential' again. especially after that oaf Chris Christie essentially endorsed him.
But just imagine if Governor Romney, instead of waiting for Chris Christie's invitation had simply gone to the hurricane victims with relief supplies for his own photo op and his own camera men. Were they going to turn him down? True, Christie wouldn't have been along for the ride, but given his attitude, I see that as a plus. Lesson? Never let a good crisis go to waste.
Third, Governor Romney was far too gentle when it came to exposing how President Obama, the so-called 'middle class warrior' was actually crushing the middle class with higher taxes and prices on energy, food and goods. Governor Romney never adequately articulated that for President Obama to pay for his socialist nirvana, to fund ObamaCare, the student loan boondoggle, the green energy scams, the entire agenda, he was going to have to punitively tax not just 'the rich' but the middle class.
In fact, the governor's oppo research staff was either ridiculously inept or Governor Romney refused to take advantage of what they gave him to paint Obama in entirely different colors.
Instead of shying away from the president's chest thumping about 'saving the auto industry', Romney should have nailed him on the $80 billion it cost to gift GM to the president union political allies that the taxpayer will never see again.
Instead of allowing the president to get away with lying about how he 'funded' Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, he should have revealed that the president actually wanted to cut it to the bone, and that it was congress that revolted and insisted on funding it.
He could have asked the president why he fought so hard to deny medical care to infants that survive an abortion.He could have even made a campaign ad out of it, featuring the president's own voice.
And those are just a few of many,many examples. Lesson learned? There's a fine line between appearing presidential and allowing your opponent to get away with murder. Find their weaknesses and don't shy away from exploiting them.
Fourth, the governor dropped the ball totally on a large group of Latino voters. Governor Romney got most of the Cuban vote and some of the Caribbean Latino vote, but he failed when it came to most Mexicans and central Americans. And it was totally unnecessary.
Here's a clue.Some of these people are grifters, a few are leftist ideologues, but the vast majority are hardworking, socially conservative religious people who came here for the same reason most other immigrants did - economic opportunity and the chance to raise their children in a free society with upward mobility.And very pro-military and national defense, by the way. We have lots of Hispanic veterans and more Hispanic Medal of Honor winners than any other group.
In other words, a natural conservative constituency. In fact, after a generation or so, a lot of them start drifting that direction anyway.
If I were Mitt Romney, instead of talking about people 'self-deporting' I'd have been on Telemundo and Univision talkng about the issues that matter to them. Explaining why ObamaCare was going to lead to rationing and less availability. Touting school choice and vouchers, a hot button issue for Latinos with children now stuck in the dysfunctional public schools. Talking about the good paying blue collar jobs and lower gas prices that would result from my energy program.Explaining how Obama's HHS mandate attacks their religious freedom, and revealing the president's position on infanticide for newborns who survive abortions. I'd speak to them about how lower taxes equal prosperity and economic freedom an dhow Obama's policies limit it.
And I would have made a promise most of them already know Barack Obama failed to keep. I would have promised to work with congress on a bill to address immigration reform as a priority during my first term.
Most of the Latinos concerned about the issue of migration come at it from the standpoint of family members and friends from the old country who are here illegally or want to be here. I'd refuse to commit to details so as not to make promises I couldn't keep, but I'd mention things like guarantors to allow pending but legal status, increased opportunities to earn citizenship in the military or other forms of national service, use of E-verify, even a realistic and fair points system to allow clear guidelines.
And I'd be doing rallies in their neighborhoods, with Latino Republicnas.
Had Romney done that, sincerely and humanely, I have no doubt he would have taken a chunk of the Hispanic vote. According to the exit polls, they were ten percent of the electorate.
Lesson learned? Don't be afraid to talk to anyone honestly about the issues that concern them. Find the areas you agree on and build on that consensus. Because you might have more in common with them than you think.
Mitt Romney would have been a superb president for this country. His defeat was unfortunate, to say the least, but as education it's priceless.