In 2008, John McCain was on the outside looking in during the early months of the GOP nomination process. Rudy Giuliani was a favorite but didn’t show up until Florida. Fred Thompson was a lump on a log during debates. Mike Huckabee faded early as well.
By this time 4 years ago, it was really down to two men: John McCain and Mitt Romney. Romney tried something that we’ve seen all-too-much of during this round – aggressive and misleading negative campaign ads. He painted McCain as a Richard Nixon clone, but it didn’t work. McCain used a series of commercials that simply took clips of Romney saying the exact opposite of what he had previously said time and time again. “A Tale of Two Mitts” helped to solidify the nomination for McCain and gave him a head start on the Democrats who were still fighting over Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Rick Santorum is attacking Romney on social issues. Ron Paul is going after his foreign policy and economic records. Newt Gingrich is painting Romney as an ineffective moderate. If any one of them would simply come out and use McCain’s tactic, hammering home the fact that Mitt Romney has never found a position that he didn’t like for now but would be willing to like later, they would hurt him much more than trying to go toe-to-toe with him as they are.
Unless Santorum pulls the upsets on Tuesday or Newt Gingrich bows out before Super Tuesday, it’s very likely that we will have the weakest GOP nominee in decades.
Here’s McCain’s technique. It worked. It would work again if the Republican candidates would only invoke it with a 2012 spin. Now’s not the time for creativity. It’s time to do what works.
You can bet that Obama’s team won’t make the same mistake the Republican candidates are making.