There comes a time in every Presidential campaign where the fate of a candidate is decided by a particular event. It may not be obvious to everyone watching as it happens. In fact, no one may realize exactly when it occurs until after Election Day when the entire campaign is dissected. But there is some moment, possibly precipitated by a speech, an event, or an exposed story that serves as a trigger for a candidate to seize the momentum of the race, or to begin an inevitable decline to oblivion.
For the Mitt Romney campaign, that moment has come this week.
Between the 47% video and the major shift within his own campaign staff and direction, Mitt Romney will be able to point to this week and say that this began the momentum he needed to win in November, or that this was the beginning of the end.
Four years ago, the moment that hit the John McCain campaign was also in September. It was the moment where he stopped campaigning in order to go back to Washington D.C. to address the economic crisis. He and his campaign bungled the operation so badly that he never really recovered.
I am not predicting Mitt Romney’s demise from the events of this week. He may very well recover and even win the election. However, if he does, his victory will begin with a change in momentum from events this week.
I say change in momentum, because right now, Romney is trending the wrong way if he wishes to unseat the incumbent. In the key battleground swing races across the country, Romney is seeing his deficit in polls grow past the margin of error. In Colorado, the Rasmussen poll, which usually leans Republican, gives him a two point lead. Other polls show him statistically tied or behind President Obama.
One of the key reasons that this week’s events are key to Romney’s future is that he is receiving a great amount of national press on the issues of the 47% video and to a lesser extent, his campaign staff situation. What he does with this attention will dictate his success.
If he allows himself to be defined by the 47% video, more accurately, by the negative criticism of the video, the general negativity of the situation will stick with the ever shrinking group of undecided voters who are still looking to make a connection with a candidate. That negativity will turn off the fickle electorate.
Romney has refused to back down from the 47% comments, so he must now find a way to turn his defense of the comments into something positive for his campaign to hang his hat on.
He has also announced that his campaign will begin to focus on more specific plans that Romney has for the economy, rather than continued assaults on the President’s record.
These moves may very well be the secret to his future success, or they may be the secret to his ultimate downfall. But either way, I truly believe that this week will be the one that pundits and historians can point to as the pivotal moment in the Romney campaign.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.