“Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don’t have a plan anymore.” Here in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan tells readers how, after copious research, the Obama campaign decided against focusing on his stewardship of the economy and instead focused on tearing down Mitt Romney.
Washington journalists usually blame Mr. Obama’s failures to work with Congress on the GOP—its tea-party nuttiness, its “nihilism.” But the president’s own focus groups, which didn’t contain Obama haters on the assumption they were unreachable, put the onus on him: It’s your job, make it work, get it done.
The Obama campaign decided not to make the campaign about the state of the economy but about who could look after the interests of the middle class in a time of historic transition. At the same time they decided to go after Mitt Romney hard, and remove him as a reasonable alternative. His selling point was that he understood the economy and made it work for him: He was rich. They turned that into a tale of downsizing, layoffs and rapacious capitalism. An Obama adviser: “He may get the economy, he may know how to make money . . . but every time he did, folks like you lost your pensions, lost your jobs.”
Somehow the Romney campaign never saw it coming.
Republicans, now and in 2016, should remember the colorful but not at all high-minded approach of Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “My favorite political philosopher is Mike Tyson,” he told Mr. Balz. “Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don’t have a plan anymore.” Obama’s people punched first, and hard.