In a later article I will compare the communication styles of President Obama and his eventual opponent but right now I want to focus on the Republican primary and why strategically they are shooting themselves in the foot – day in, day out.
As a UK citizen I find the primary process fascinating and wish that we had something similar at home. I love the fact that Politics matters so much and that people get involved. Sadly, one huge flaw has appeared in this round that may make any victorious candidate irreparably damaged for the Election in November.
For the candidates this political vetting period is a very demanding experience and as ever they need to be very mindful of their actions. There is the term “Talking with one eye on the General” but in this particularly bloody contest the dialogue is as far from the General Election as it has ever been. This is for 2 reasons:
- The people who vote in the primary are much more right wing than the general population.
- Ergo if you say anything too moderate your popularity drops.
Mitt Romney is having the most difficulty in this area. Over the last few years his views have had to evolve in a partisan way in order to get enough votes to win the contest. Unfortunately for him everything he says or does is recorded and documented. And then there are the opinions of his fellow candidates.
Here are a selection:
Newt Gingrich looking to change child labor laws to get the poorest children working. Rick Santorum saying that the separation of Church and State made him want to throw up. Michelle Bachman saying that Guardasil (the HPV vaccine) can make teenagers retarded. Herman Cain blaming the unemployed for being unemployed during the worst recession in 60 years, and enjoying the fact that he is not that interested in foreign affairs (Usbeki-beki stan?). Rick Santorum saying that President Obama was a “snob” for wanting all kids to have some kind of higher education (if ever there was an aspiration in line with the American dream it must be this!).
Then there are the debates! Applause for large volumes of executions, booing of a Gay soldier, shouts of “let him die” when discussing whether the uninsured should be treated in hospital. And my favorite. Rick Perry (nothing in particular, just Rick Perry – if ever a candidate had a strong platform to become the GOP candidate it was him but he seemed out of his depth when he opened his mouth!!)
Luckily for Mr Romney, he hasn’t said anything too wacky but he has agreed with positions that may hurt him in November.
All this is before we get into their communication style:
The problem that the GOP have this year is that all of the candidates have different flaws from a communication perspective. I’m sure most people will agree that President Obama has an excellent communication style and that he rarely commits any sort of gaffe.
On the other hand…
Santorum, for all of his religious zeal is probably the most authentic and passionate speaker but tends to say things that will marginalize the independent voters.
Gingrich has a big brain and a very engaging debate style but seems to lack the discipline to stay on message. He also seems too hot headed to prosper against the super cool poker player that is President Obama.
Ron Paul has a consistent message but does not want to make his tent any bigger.
And lastly Romney who is more than likely the nominee … . Where do I start with Mitt Romney? Well assuming that he becomes the GOP standard bearer, I will talk at length about his unelectability from a communication perspective in that later article I promised at the outset.
Lets just say that he has an authenticity problem and leave it at that…