Friday, March 15, 2013

Pat Caddell Attacks the Romney Campaign

Yesterday at CPAC Pat Caddell electrified the crowd with a stinging critique of the Romney presidential campaign.

Formerly Jimmy Carter’s pollster, Caddell has consistently found fault with  Barack Obama.

Others have critiqued the Romney campaign. Caddell described it as a monument to political ineptitude. reported on his talk:

Caddell left no doubt he is not an admirer of Mitt Romney's campaign management skills. He called Romney "the worst executive I've seen" when it comes to leading a political campaign.  Romney's failure to attack Obama's Benghazi debacle during the foreign policy debate was "cravenness" that came about because his consultants told him "we don’t want to look warlike." 

Caddell also said Romney failed to back his campaign with his own money when it was most needed. "My question for Romney is, you spent $45 million [of your own money] in your 2008 campaign where you didn't have a chance. Why didn't you give your campaign a loan in the spring instead of letting Obama define you?"

Romney, Caddell said, was not on top of his game when he failed to anticipate attacks based on his business career. "You didn't know Bain was coming? Ted Kennedy used it against you." Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Senate election in Massachusetts.

Caddell was equally caustic in his evaluation of the Republican consultants who managed Romney's campaign. "Of course this election could have been won.  It should have been won," he said. "The Romney campaign was the worst campaign in my lifetime except for ninety minutes [in the first debate] thanks to Barack Obama."

"There was a failure of strategy, a failure of tactics, a massive failure of messaging. Most of all there was a total failure of imagination." Caddell singled out Stuart Stevens, a key figure in Romney's campaign, in a particularly withering critique. "Stevens had as much business running a campaign as I do sprouting wings and flying out of this room," he said to an audience that applauded.

Caddell said that Romney inexplicably allowed Obama to define him without fighting back. If Obama had a 50% favorable rating on election day, he had an 80% chance of winning. If he had a 45% favorable rating on election day, he had a 90% chance of losing. On election day, Obama's favorable rating was 51% because, Caddell said, "Republicans failed to hold him down."

"A majority of the people wanted to repeal Obamacare, [an issue that] the Republican Party abandoned," Caddell noted. He added that "on the issue of bigger or smaller government, one-third of the people who want smaller government voted for Obama."

In fairness, there was never any mystery about why the Republican Party abandoned the fight on Obamacare or why the Party failed to capitalize on its belief in small government.

They nominated Mitt Romney.


Lastango said...

Ya can't beat something with nothing.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to be a critic. What are we to learn about campaigning the next time around? That's what I'd like to hear about, not personal attacks. Obama built a state-of-the-art communications machine. How does it work tactically? That's what I want to here more in-depth analysis on. How are Republicans to win? Not nominate anther Mitt Romney??? Okay, fine, but what do you stand FOR, rather than against?

What inroads does the CPAC conference make with the voters the Republican Party will need to win the next time? CPAC is like preaching to the choir. Republicans have to reach out into unfamiliar territory. If there is any value to something like CPAC, it's staking out new philosophical ground and making a strong stand for what conservatives believe in. But then the hard work of retail politics begins, where character, connection and resilience are forged. Who do you see doing that right now?


Stuart Schneiderman said...

I thought that Caddell was disappointed that Romney had blown it so badly... meaning that he should have been advised by someone like PC.

I assume that the last question is rhetorical, because I don't see anyone who can do it today.

Lastango said...

Anonymous @ 2:38

I don't know if it's your intent, but you come off like an apologist for Romney.

With your expression "How are Republicans to win? Not nominate anther Mitt Romney???", coupled with your continuation, you make it sound as though the communications machine and ground game were the core problem, and -- if these are fixed -- it's ok to nominate another Romney.

Perhaps that's not your stance. But if it is, be aware that your formulation endorses the sort of Bush/Rove RINOism that is creating an a chain of profound defeats and wasted opportunity.

Putting another Romney-style imposter at the head of the ticket is a recipe for continued disaster, no matter how well the GOP's electoral machine functions.

Let's not forget the magnitude of what happened here: The Republican establishment candidate couldn't win even with a tailwind of crushing umemployment and a depressed economy.

Further, the Democrats had 21 senate seats up for election, plus two independents who caucus with the Democrats, while the Republicans had only ten seats up for election. In the face of this steep slope, the Democrats picked up two seats!

There can be no clearer sign that the Republican establishment is bankrupt. That's why I find comments that say, in effect, "forget about Romney, let's talk about tactics" to be misdirection to prevent us from focusing on the disease infecting the Republican Party.

Again, maybe that's not your intent. If you want to discuss the GOP's lousy ground game, I'm all ears, because that needs to be fixed too. But when you start off by trying to shut others up and change the subject with "It's easy to be a critic", you sound like a professional internet proxy trying to protect business-as-usual Republicans from conservatives who point out that the emperor has no clothes.

n.n said...

To be fair, Obama may have anticipated the attacks based on his lack of a business, academic, and civil career, and it did not matter. The response came from the press, the answers were not forthcoming, and the perception was successfully manipulated.

The people, in a slight majority, voted to expand military conflicts, and to process foreign policy through regime change.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for a man who would not accept responsibility for men and women murdered on his watch, instead choosing to blame Americans for their deaths.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for "green" technology, which shifts environmental disruption to a neighbor's backyard, and has its local consequences obfuscated by a willing press and willing environmentalists.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for redistributive change (i.e. involuntary exploitation), which today is approaching 17 trillion dollars, and represents a progressive devaluation of capital and labor, not only in America, but around the world.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for arming criminal cartels, which have murdered at least several hundred Mexicans and at least one American.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for "diversity" (i.e. denigration of individual dignity), which includes excessive legal immigration, and unmeasured illegal immigration, both of which displace American men, women, and children at work, school, and throughout society; but, is especially disruptive, when the rate of immigration exceeds the rate of assimilation.

The people, in a slight majority, voted to normalize dysfunctional behaviors, including premeditated murder (i.e. abortion, "choice") as a matter of convenience.

The people, in a slight majority, voted for dissociation of risk and the corruption it causes. They voted for fulfillment of dreams of material, physical, and ego instant (or immediate) gratification.

With all of this in mind, and assuming a fair election, it is surprising that Obama only managed to secure his victory with a slight majority of votes.

Men and women just want to have fun. A slight majority do not vote on their publicly expressed principles.

I really thought Romney would lose by a wider margin. It speaks well of the American people that not more have elected to exchange liberty and principles for submission with benefits.

Anonymous said...

Stuart: The question wasn't intended to be rhetorical, but I do see how it could've been seen that way. In either case, the answer seems to be the same: no one. And that's the crux of the problem I'm pointing out: Republicans don't connect with voters emotionally, and this what retail politics is all about. Republican candidates are rarely endearing or inspiring. Until they come to realize the importance of such qualities, they will lose battle after battle. I'm advocating passionate politics regarding the human impact of Democratic policies, not policy abstractions about the tax code and complaining about the nameless, faceless 47%. What a bore! It's like listening to the teacher talk in those old "Peanuts" TV specials.


Anonymous said...

Lastango: It's not my intent, and I'm not trying to shut anyone up. I just don't think Caddell's rhetoric is productive. It may make some "I told you so" people at CPAC feel better about themselves, but the last election's result is still the same, and it doesn't help win the next election.

I am no apologist for Mitt Romney, the Republican establishment, or any of these yahoos who play Monday morning quarterback criticizing the candidate who lost. i want to hear them express (a) what they learned, and (b) what it will take to win the next election. To do that effectively, it's best to kow what you're for, rather than what you're against.

I don't feel bad for Romney. He ran a lousy campaign because he was safe, safe, and still safe until the end. Going to CPAC to rail on a candidate may be red meat for the disappointed, but it doesn't move the ball forward. All I'm saying is that it's easy to be a critic after the game's played. Almost as easy as spending other people's money.

What the Republican Party needs to clue in to is that retail politics is an emotional affair. It's about connecting. And no, I'm not talking about patronizing, condescending oratory that connects with people's circumstances... pitying or feeling sorry for them like victims (the #1 Democratic campaign tactic). I'm talking about emotionally connecting with people's dreams and who they want to be for themselves and others. That requires an emotional commitment to a clear political philosophy and retail strategy, and the ground tactics to reach people. Romney and Rove don't have that, principally because polls are the sole driver behind their positions.

Mitt Romney was a lousy candidate because he doesn't emotionally advocate for core ideas. He expressed no deep, compelling ideas he knows are right, and the real impact those ideas have on real people. Romney didn't put himself out there. He just wanted to be elected President, and wanted to take the safest path to get there... which was to stand for very little. What I'm saying is that the Republicans need a bench of candidates that can connect with people and appeal to their aspirations first and fears second.

So no, Lastango, I'm not an Internet proxy standing for the establishment, though I find it funny that you reach that conclusion. I invite you to consider that when Republicans talk like stuck-up, aloof theoreticians about all these abstractions, they're doomed. All these people have one thing in common: their humanity isn't accessible. And as for the establishment putting a stiff like Romney on the road, please remember that the establishment certainly didn't put Senator wannabes Mourdock, Akin, O'Donnell, Angle, et al, on the ballot. They were supported by conservatives and they couldn't connect, either. The all got trapped in abstractions, and this can't all be chalked-up to media bias. No reporter made them say the wacky things they said.

By he way, the reason Paul Ryan can talk about policy and get away with it is that (a) he knows what he's talking about, and (b) he has a deep understanding of the impact of policy on people, and speaks to that with deep connection. I wonder what Caddell thinks of him. Probably not much.

And, in conclusion, I'll add that the Republican Party needs to come up with a better rationale than "it's his turn" when nominating a presidential candidate. That's your establishment talking... the gang with no clothes on. How about a candidate who says what he means, and how his ideas help people achieve their dreams. Reaganesque, no?


Dennis said...

Well said Tip,

We were born with both a logical and emotional side to our being. Any over reliance on either one does not serve us well. I would posit that is why both the Democrats, over reliance on emotion, and the Republicans, over reliance on logic, are both dismal failures.
Emotion was meant to be tempered by logic. Logic was meant to be tempered by emotion. We are after al dealing with living creatures who both think and feel. One of the reason we have both male and female is because of that balance between emotion and logic among other reasons. Both guarantee our survival. We have evolved because of them.
I would posit that one becomes less of a human being without a good balance between both attributes.
One of the reasons families tend to work out so well throughout history is that they teach each member both the logical and emotional aspects of life.
Both the Democrats and Republicans, as they are presently formed, are dangerous to our survival as a country. They divide us into warring factions battling against our own better natures. The same could be stated for almost any endeavor such as science. Until we can learn to deal effectively with both we are doomed to constant war against ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Dennis: Thank you, my friend. I heartily acknowledge your perspective, as well. We are brothers on this life path, as I have gleaned from your other posts. We are human beings, not purely emotive or rationalist savages. We are luminous, spiritual beings. I hope I am accurately portraying what you meant.


Anonymous said...

Lastrango, have you no response? 24 hours after suggesting that I may be a "professional Internet proxy," despite my closing byline (read: "Tip," the first name I actually use in real life), I challenge you to respond to what I've said here. I've told no one to "shut up," as that is your assertion.

Defend your position, sir. Otherwise, I assert, it is you who may be the Internet proxy.