No Democratic talking point is complete unless it includes the accusation that Republicans are “extreme” or “radical” or “hard-line.” In party war rooms, it’s considered an art form to string the poll-tested buzz words together, as in “Joe Smith is a hard-line radical whose positions are extreme.”
That one would get the author a used Barack Obama Hope & Change poster.
Now substitute Mitt Romney for Joe Smith and you see the Dems’ problem. Romney has liabilities, but it’s more than a stretch to call him extreme, radical and hard-line.
With Rick Santorum suspending his campaign yesterday, the biggest anti-stereotyping development of the campaign is a done deal. GOP voters, routinely caricatured as knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, Bible-thumping troglodytes, are nominating the most moderate candidate of the field. How dare they mess with the Obama message!
Consider the possible turnabout. Those Newt Gingrich attacks on Romney as the “Massachusetts Moderate” could become a compliment in the general election. Ditto for the claims by Santorum and others that they were the “true conservative.”
Even Romney’s weakness on health care during the primaries — RomneyCare — could be a plus if the Supreme Court throws out ObamaCare. Voters who like parts of the law and think reform is overdue might find Romney’s knowledge a credible alternative to Obama’s incoherent overreach.
Beyond his business experience, Romney has a track record of working with Democrats to get things done. It could be a big advantage, because Obama, by contrast, succeeded in getting major legislation through Congress only when his party had all the power. He hates dissent of any kind, which is hardly a recipe for consensus-building in a divided country.
The primaries did give Obama ammunition against Romney, of course, and one line of attack is certain. Romney’s wealth will lead the president to make class warfare a central theme.