Politico’s Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin offer a story with perhaps an unsurprising headline: “Obama plan: Destroy Romney.” Team Obama sees Mitt Romney as the probable GOP nominee, and they won’t wait until the general election to offer attack lines. “Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background.”
But the anonymous strategists Politico interviewed don’t seem to remember the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in their usage of metaphor. "Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney," said a “prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.”
There was no “I mean, politically” in that sentence. Should the Secret Service be calling Politico for leads?
In a statement, Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades responded: "It is disgraceful that President Obama's campaign has launched his re-election with the stated goal to 'kill' his opponent with an onslaught of negative and personal attacks. President Obama will say and do desperate things to hold onto power because he knows he has failed."
Politico said some Democrats shudder at the idea that Team Obama is studying how George W. Bush defeated Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
The Democrats laying the groundwork for this strategy are well aware of its echoes. In 2004, the polarizing incumbent and his allies successfully raised doubts about the character and fitness of another stiff, wealthy patrician politician from Massachusetts with attacks on his alleged "flip-flopping" and even his war record.
....Even Obama's top aides don't expect unemployment to be below eight percent when next November rolls around.
"When you have these difficult economic circumstances, everybody is going to have to make a choice," said the Obama adviser. "We're going to have to color both sides of that choice."
Obama aides will surely “go personal” on Romney, playing him as a weirdo who also happens to be Mormon:
Democrats also plan to amplify what Obama strategists described as the "weirdness" quotient, the sum of awkward public encounters and famous off-kilter anecdotes, first among them the tale of Romney having strapped his dog to the roof of his car.
None of the Obama advisers interviewed made any suggestion that Romney's personal qualities would be connected to his minority Mormon faith, but the step from casting Romney as a bit off to raising questions about religion may not be a large step for some of the incumbent's supporters.
And Obama officials have made "weirdness" an epithet for Romney the way they tagged John McCain "erratic" in the fall of 2008 after the Arizona senator suddenly left the campaign trail and nearly backed out of the first debate as part of an attempt to get a deal on the bailout
"Presidential campaigns are like MRIs of the soul," said Axelrod. "When he makes jokes about being unemployed or a waitress pinching him on the butt, it does snap your head back, and you say, `What's he talking about?'"
Doesn’t it seem strange that the candidate who made his exotic name and background a selling point to liberals is going to play up the other guy’s “weirdness quotient”? Wouldn't it be odd for the people who picked Joe Biden as vice president are playing up odd jokes -- like Biden's about Indians running all the 7-Elevens?