The way to win an election, no matter who the GOP nominee turns out to be, is to not let the Obama campaign make this election cycle about the Republican candidate or allow the president to get traction on the notion that the recovery is underway finally and that Bush left a much worse mess than he realized. If the election becomes about the Republican nominee, Obama will win. If the president can make the case that the recovery is now kicking in (remember Recovery Summer in 2009 2010 2011?), then people will start to think that it took too long but the president was right, so we should now stay the course.
Those are bad scenarios for the Republicans and they mean bad news for the country. So those ideas cannot take hold. The way to ensure that the race is about president Obama. The best way to do that is to to put the president a defensive footing right out of the gate and keep the pressure on at all times, so that he is always playing defense. If the president is reacting, he is not owning the news cycle. Conservatives need to make sure we keep him moving backwards. The only way to do that is to have every subject covered with enough detail to keep moving on offense.
There's more to it than just having the content. Republicans have to keep the momentum which means coming up with about 120 talking points that can grab headlines. That's four months worth of daily talking points so that every day the conversation can be pushed in a different direction and keep both the media, the Democrats and the president's team off balance. As they master the response to one criticism the cycle has to have moved on to the next. The variety of these political attacks should occasionally be brought back into focus with the conversation being brought around to point out that there are so many of these problems and the answers have been weak, after-the-fact and unconvincing.
Other considerations worth noting - 120 talking points probably isn't enough. In fact 240 talking points is better because there is no guarantee that every talking point will make the news cycle, let alone dominate it. The points to be brought forward need to be repeated throughout the blogosphere in order to ensure that they are indeed being talked about - Twitter, Facebook, blogs and conservative media need to all hop on each meme, and push it forward. Yes, it's a herd mentality. Yes it's a variation straight from the Democratic media's playbook. Yes, it works.
The talking points should be on a wide array of topics but some core elements must be repeatedly brought up, albeit from different angles. For example;
- Oil prices - The president's domestic energy policy has been an abysmal failure in wind and solar. The president has had an aversion and outright abhorrence of drilling offshore or even in Canada. the president prior to the election indicated his dislike of coal. He has overlooked the opportunities presented by natural gas. The president has not taken advantage of the opportunity to advance clean nuclear power. The fallout of all of this is $5 gas. In a downturned economy this has moved from unconscionable to hurtful.
- Joblessness - The president has focused on extending unemployment benefits to treat the symptom of a staggering economy, not the problem of the economy itself. The president has been anti-business in his regulatory efforts. The president doesn't know how to stimulate natural economic growth. The real joblessness rates are much worse than the BLS publishes in it's monthly statistics and the reason is the U6 unemployment rate is closer to reality than the reported U3 number. The president has not positioned the country to tackle on-going problems like the European economic problems, gasoline prices, the China economic bubble and other disruptions to the world economy.
- National debt - The president has a flawed understanding of the economy and what makes it work. The president has a flawed understanding of what shovel ready means. He has a flawed understanding of the negative effects of a Keynesian stimulus. The president hired people to run the economy who couldn't run Turbo Tax. The president has compounded the nations debt in a very dangerous way. The president promised to cut the annual deficit in half, instead he added half again to the national debt in a few years. This president cannot solve the debt problem because he is too busy compounding it.
- Foreign relations - The president has been anti-Israel. He has been very feeble on Iran. He's been feeble dealing with a brutal crackdown in Syria. He was tough on the much safer Egypt which has now drifted towards radical Islam - a drift enabled by the president's desire to look like he was out in front of developments he really didn't understand. The president was tough on a powerless Libya and yet it took longer than expected and the outcome is likely to be as undesirable as what is happening in Egypt. The president has simply been disjointed and reactive. On terrorism, successes have come from aligning with a more hawkish stance and not from closing Gitmo or having terror trials in NYC. In other words, he's been wrong time and again. His successes in capturing Bin Laden is also built on the designs and efforts of his predecessor. He happened to be in the right place at the right time and managed to make the right call after a far-too-lengthy deliberation.
- Obamacare was forced upon the American people in the face of massive resistance. The legislation was over 2000 pages cobbled together without a true vision. It is another form of wealth re-distribution. It was sold based on false assumptions and double counting. It will be highly toxic to the national debt. It involved arm-twisting and kickbacks and manipulation and includes a number of provisions that are unConstitutional and immoral (like the idea of forcing Catholic institutions to support birth control, or mandating people to purchase insurance.
- Miscellaneous scandals - A cop is racist for making an arrest on a friend of president Obama's who happened to be black (and later turned out to be provoking the response he received) but forcing Catholics to support contraception in opposition to the first amendment is okay? This smacks of shoot first based on ideology and ask questions - well, never. Solyndra. The Fast and Furious gun walker scandal. The LightSquared scandal.
There are a lot of other things to be brought forward that can keep liberals off balance and reactive. Somebody somewhere should be working on a game plan, and that game plan should have a defensive component but it should have a strong offensive plan that is akin to a blitzkrieg political campaign. It's going to be the only way to win.