There’s nothing like having run for president before to give a candidate a sense of the rhythms of a campaign.
So it’s been very interesting to watch Mitt Romney pick and choose the spots on which he tries to inject himself from the debate. He’s been notably absent from the recent small-bore scandals over Van Jones and ACORN, for instance, where rivals like Tim Pawlenty angled for a piece of the action.
But he’s all over the missile issue today, calling the move “alarming and dangerous.”
The metapoint, a colleague points out: Romney’s sticking to the adult stuff, leaving the downmarket attacks to rivals.
This is textbook early campaigning. The most important part of campaigning for a frontrunner in these early days isn’t just getting your name in the paper. Managing your image so that a positive press impression is laid. In this case, Romney’s reluctance to jump in on the scandal-of-the-moment is giving his coverage the air of a presidential figure when he speaks up about something not as sexy, but much more serious. By being patient and precise Romney not only manages to garner good press and avoid gaffes or overreaches that will needlessly come back to haunt him later.
In the 9/12 chat from last Saturday we talked about this a bit. There was some agitation for Mitt to jump into the fray with Glenn Beck and start firing salvos at Obama. The thing is, that’s not his role. Romney is not here to become the guy who attacks Obama relentlessly driving down his poll numbers. We have people for those purposes, and they’re doing a fantastic job. No, Gov. Romney’s role is to be president in 41 months. In order to be that person, he needs to think beyond the next angle of attack for now. There will be time for close-quarters fighting with Obama in 2012, oh Lord will there be time. But today, waiting for his turn to come up. Romney’s fulfilling his role perfectly
I’ll save the indignity coming from the “advisor to a rival” for another day. But I will say that his message only reinforces, to me, that Romney is the adult in the room.