In politics as in PR, messaging is key to any victory. On this battleground, the 2012 Presidential race has been a catastrophe for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republican Party itself.
The premise of the 2012 GOP ticket is that Americans are worse off than they were four years ago when President Obama took office, stealing and misusing the successful campaign theme that Ronald Reagan used to beat Jimmy Carter in 1980.
But the exact opposite is true. America is a healthier, more economically stable country than it was when Obama took office in the wake of the largest economic challenge to this country since the Great Depression. The president's policies avoided the imminent collapse of the economy. Wall Street was saved, as was the auto industry. The home-foreclosure crisis was slowed.
To add insult to injury, as it was entering the crucial Labor Day period, the Romney/Ryan team attacked the Obama administration for cutting $716 billion out of Medicare, attempting to scare seniors into voting Republican. This messaging backfired, though, as seniors, voters, and the media found that the cuts were coming out of insurance companies and hospitals, not participants' pockets. Even more damaging for the GOP, the messaging attack was intended to hide its plans to offer a voucher program for Medicare and place the economic burden on states, a message and plan highly unpopular with swing states populated by seniors.
Most recently, Romney was caught in a privately recorded meeting with major donors essentially saying that 47% of Americans were “victims” because they were too dependent upon government. Many might look at this most recent controversy as the death knell of the GOP ticket as it has thrown off the campaign yet once again from making any significant headway against the Democratic incumbent.
There is a distinct pattern to all the missteps, mistakes, and inept messaging. The Romney/Ryan ticket seems incapable of telling the truth. The biggest challenges facing the party are the two candidates themselves. Their credibility has been hurt at every turn by their inability or lack of desire to honestly and realistically describe actual facts and their own platforms and beliefs.
Essentially, this year's Republican ticket is saying to voters: "Don't read my lips, read my mind" because what they are mouthing has no bearing on what they mean or what their real intentions are for leading America.
Not only is this no way to run a presidential campaign, it's no way to run a country – and voters are seeing that on a daily basis.
All these examples make it hard to believe Romney's claim that he will run the US based on his business acumen and experience. With each passing day, his ability to produce simple straightforward, compelling, and believable messages – the very basis of being an executive leader in business or the head of the free world – is increasingly in doubt.
America is, indeed, dependent upon a healthy two-party system. Right now, however, with the elevation of the most extreme religious and intolerant elements running or having significant influence within the Republican Party, our system of government is out of whack. This is perhaps why Romney/Ryan can't seem to utter any compelling or realistic statements as the messaging seems controlled and convoluted.
Much like the Democrats removed their most left-leaning elements of the party from power in the 1990s, it is time for Republicans to purge Tea Party members, as well as religious and anti-choice zealots, and move forward into a new era. If this does not happen, the GOP runs the risk of becoming lost in its own morass by elevating second-class candidates as the standard bearers to front for the most far-right and out-of-touch elements of the party.Sam Singer is president of Singer Associates in San Francisco. A former journalist and political campaign manager, he has spent the past 20-plus years helping a wide variety of clients develop their public affairs strategies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.