Five Ways The Romney Secret Video Could Help Him Win

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Photo: Mother Jones

It will be tough, but Mitt Romney can still bounce back from the "47 percent" recording.

A lot of Democrats and even a few Republicans say the race for president is over. They say Mitt Romney is sunk by the release of the secret 47 Percent video recorded at a Florida fundraiser. But Mitt Romney is a Boston Red Sox fan and watched his team beat the New York Yankees after being down 0-3 in the 2004 American League playoffs. He knows comebacks are possible. Here are five things that could lead to a Romney comeback.

  1. Romney apologizes.  It does not seem to be in his nature, but the quickest way to change the narrative is to come clean, say ‘I screwed up.’ Just saying his words were inelegant is not enough.  Romney told Fox News he was not writing off 47 percent of Americans just saying that those Americans will not vote for him and  cannot worry about convincing them to change their minds. The explanation seems plausible. If Romney were to apologize for lumping  half of America into a small group that might be over-reliant on government help, he might reverse the damage.

  2. Romney does his penance – releases his tax returns.  For the Romney campaign, it’s raining; he’s soaking wet. He could take advantage of the storm and release his returns now, while it’s still raining. He can’t get any more wet. Romney’s tax returns would change the topic, albeit from worst to just bad, but it would end the controversy in mid- September and before the October debates.

  3. Use the flap to focus his campaign.  This is what many conservatives hope happens. Romney’s campaign has been all over the place. Just look at its potpourri of slogans:  Believe In America; We Did Build It, Are You Better Off? Many Americans believe government has grown too large, entitlement programs are too generous. If Romney were to double down on his fundraiser speech, clean it up a bit, and say he wants a new direction for America – a direction away from government programs, he could use the controversy to his advantage.

  4. Democrats overreach. The video is pretty damaging by itself, but if Democrats overplay their hand there could be a backlash. Democrats could turn off the moderates who believe government entitlement programs have grown too large. The controversy could sidetrack their message that seems to be working, the message that President Obama is the man to move the country forward.

  5. No more mistakes.  This is it. Romney has used all his mulligans. Not only must he perform flawlessly in the debates, be must perform flawlessly on the stump and even at “private” fundraisers.  He and his campaign have to be super disciplined. No more Etch-a-Sketch soundbites, no more picking on the London Olympics. He can’t prematurely politicize a foreign policy crisis as he did with the Libyan attack. And he must make sure no one in his campaign talks to vacant furniture.

Even if all these things happen, Mitt Romney still has a problem – Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign and its supporters have tried to paint Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire who favors the rich over the middle class. This recording, like his $10,000 bet during a GOP debate, his statement, “Corporations are people,” and his refusal to release his income tax returns have only enhanced that narrative. His approval ratings in Ohio and around the country are in the low 40’s, and this tape will not help.

Romney still has time. The economy, while improving, still stinks. But with 7 weeks to go, Romney has to hope his message and his campaign improve much faster than the economy does.

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