But convention organizers missed a huge opportunity to tell Americans what Romney and Ryan were going to do for the country. Or, better yet, to tell the country that they were going to tell them over the course of the ensuing weeks.
The eulogies are already being written about the campaign, but in reality it is far from over. Newer polls show Obama's convention bounce deteriorating and the race tightening in key states. But something is going to have to change with the campaign because there is just no coherent message coming out of it right now.
Here are five things Mitt Romney should do:
- "Location, location, location" is not just a sales slogan. In every town he stops in, Romney needs to go to the now desolate location of some business that has closed down sometime during Obama's tenure and give his campaign speech there.
- Simplify the message. Take Bill Kristol's advice: Begin every campaign speech with the statement: "This country is going bankrupt." Then follow it up with a positive message like: "We're going to bring America back" (Okay, it sounds cliched, but the high priced consultants should be able to jazz it up a little).
- Walk softly and let Paul Ryan carry a big stick. Use Paul Ryan like vice presidential candidates have always been used: as the attack dog. It wasn't inappropriate to criticize the current administration for its failings in foreign policy after the embassy killings, but it was not a good idea for Romney to do it. He should have stood up and acted presidential and expressed sorrow for the loss of lives on the day it happened while Paul Ryan was delivering the blows. Then, next day, Romney should have explained how he would have handled it, while Ryan continued to attack the administration. Do that for the rest of the week, then get back to the economic message.
- You can't ignore events. The Middle East is in crisis. Get used to it. He should announce that he is going to make a major foreign policy address next Monday (he should have done it this last Monday) and give the two things he is going to do to make America more respected around the world.
- Flesh out your main message. By the end of next week the protesters will get tired and need a breather. At the end of that week, announce that, starting the next week, you are going to announce three things you are going to do for the economy. Announce that you are going to announce it, and then announce one every Monday for three weeks. Have Ryan there to underscore the importance of the announcement.
Right now the media by and large is not covering the campaign; they're just lying in wait for gaffes. Part of the problem is that nothing is happening. There's nothing new. Just going around repeating what was said during the convention doesn't cut it. Romney needs to make something happen. The media only covers things when there is an event, and an event in which something new is going to be said or done. Doing this will give reporters something else to cover other than simply look for mistakes.