Two-Step Fix for Romney’s “47 Percent” Disaster

 Two Step Fix for Romneys 47 Percent Disaster

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s response to this latest setback.

Any suggestions for Mitt Romney as to how to put the genie back in the bottle? That is the question as he copes with the fallout from the now infamous “47 Percent” video, in which Romney claimed that 47 percent of the American voting population suffers from a paralyzing dependence on government support and entitlements. It’s a “victim” mentality, said Mitt as he told the faithful that nearly half of the US population is an electoral lost cause.

This taped speech at a private fundraising event was never meant to be aired publicly, but now Democrats can’t believe their luck. For Romney’s campaign, battling with accusations of being tone deaf to the economic plight of ordinary Americans, this comes at a bad time. Mitt, in his response, is holding his ground. While his views were “inelegantly” expressed, he says, they related solely to how his campaign is being structured. This was about tactical electoral strategy only.

Not a bad response, and what else could he say under the circumstances? No sense in denying the comments, but they certainly need explanation and context.

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s response to this latest setback.   His response may have blunted some of the damage to the campaign, but he needs to do more.

The PR Takeaway: Distract and Switch should be the mantra of Team Romney’s campaign for the coming days. Change the topic of the conversation by pulling wife Ann or running mate Ryan into the media to talk about something completely different. Crisis moments like these have a shorter shelf life when something else fills the vacuum. With the Democrats milking the video for all its worth, the best advice to Romney is to cede the limelight over the next couple of days – the sooner the better.

What else can Team Romney do to mitigate this damage? Give us your PR Verdict!

The Romney-Ryan Tango

 The Romney Ryan Tango

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) so far for Paul Ryan.

How do you PR package 42-year-old Paul Ryan for vice president?  And what’s the PR dynamic for his running with Mitt Romney? Father-son? Teacher-pupil? Firebrand-moderate? Or just great pals? This choreography will be more carefully planned than the finals of Dancing With the Stars.

Both political sides are excited by the Ryan announcement. Ryan rouses fiscal conservatives – at last, said the commentators,  a candidate who has built his reputation on fiscal discipline. Democrats, on the other hand, think they have been handed a political gift. “The man who wants to end Medicare” is now their political rallying cry.

A generation younger than his potential boss, Ryan has the charisma and energy to appeal to voters. His positioning is that of the Young Turk brimming with ideas, energy, and conviction. Romney may find himself playing second fiddle to a younger deputy with stronger, more headline-grabbing ideas. Where does that leave Romney: agreeing with Ryan on all matters, or being the more moderate, generational elder? How can the  younger, pushier brand, Ryan, compliment and not overshadow the more seasoned brand of Romney?

The PR Verdict: ”B” (Good Show), so far, for Paul Ryan and his opening salvos. His youth, vigor, and ideological commitment seem to have energized his party. The PR work is now to position both candidates as being not only on the same page but having the same level of firepower and conviction.

The PR Takeaway: Brands need space. Ryan has captured the headlines with some radical views, and his brand is becoming clear. For Romney, his own brand positioning needs to reaffirm who is running the show – a public tango where Romney needs to be seen in the lead at all times. Romney’s faux pas on the day of the announcement, when he introduced Ryan as the “next President of the United States,” could be a portent of a potential PR problem. Romney, for the sake of his own candidacy, needs to make sure that he is seen as being in charge of the ideology, as well as the campaign.

Is Paul Ryan a wise or radical choice for Romney? Give us your PR Verdict!

Rice for Vice? Condi Cancels Her Date with Mitt (Nicely)

 Rice for Vice? Condi Cancels Her Date with Mitt (Nicely)

The PR Verdict: “A” for Condoleeza Rice.

Condoleeza Rice for vice president? Maybe, just maybe . . . But then, NO. What started as a news item on the Mitt Romney-friendly website The Drudge Report  went quickly mainstream. Would Condi make the move? But two days later the general consensus was, “Let’s call the whole thing off.” Case closed.

Rice was always a long shot. If Romney’s PR problem is that he is considered too remote to galvanize the grassroots, then adding Condi Rice would have made a tough campaign even tougher. Besides, given that Romney has tried to steer clear of the Bush legacy, having a stalwart of the Bush years as the Number Two on the ticket would be walking into a host of problems.

Cynics have suggested that Rice was put in the headlines to take news editors minds’ off Romney’s tax filings and his leadership of Bain capital. As a PR strategy, this has merits. But no campaign can have brides publicly rejecting the ring. This had to be limited to a quick diversion. As for Condi, the PR dilemma was this: How do you decline a proposal without offending?

The PR Verdict: “A” for Condoleeza Rice turning down an unofficial vice presidential proposal politely. No one likes rejection, but this issue needed to be cut short before it gathered too much steam.

The PR Takeaway: Dating rules apply in PR. Condi took a leaf out of the old breakup book: It’s not you, it’s me. Publicly turning down the Republican Presidential candidate could seriously impair his campaign and make the next person who accepts look like an also-ran. Without commenting directly, her flaks reiterated her previous comments that she prefers policy over politics. Campaigning for public office is not for her, they said, while Condi herself was nowhere to be seen. With such an elegant TBNT (Thanks, But No Thanks), Romney felt no rejection, and the door remains wide open to a potential candidate. Would that more politicians could handle things so nicely . . .

Did Condoleeza Rice handle rejecting Romney well? Was the rumor of her being asked to consider the VP slot a PR diversion away from his tax issue? Tell us your PR Verdict!

Romney’s Offshore Accounts Wash Up Again

 Romneys Offshore Accounts Wash Up Again

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Mitt Romney.

Things are looking a little uncomfortable for Mitt Romney as chatter builds about his offshore tax dealings. Vanity Fair this month went into forensic details over Romney’s affairs, describing the “murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws.”

While there is no smoking gun, it is clear that Romney’s financial advisers were disciples of tax minimization. Trouble is, no one likes to read about a presidential candidate with offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich said repeatedly during his campaign, “I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.”

So far Team Romney has given a robust response: Romney’s affairs are in a blind trust and have been for some time. Romney is a smart businessman who doesn’t want to pay more tax than is necessary, but his team insists he pays the full whack of tax, according to U.S. rules, no matter where the assets are located. But is this enough to cut the chatter?

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s handling of the issue so far. But what is the unanswered question that won’t go away?

The PR Takeaway: If a story won’t die, listen carefully for the question that is going unanswered. In this case, Romney’s campaign has done an impressive job in batting back the questions–they have disclosed some (certainly not all) of his tax records and details about his tax bill and trusts. The nagging issue continues to be; why was the money sent  offshore in the first place? Until Team Romney comes up with a convincing soundbite (if there is one), they should keep including the issue in their presidential debate rehearsals.

What do you think about Mitt Romney’s offshore accounts? Give us your PR Verdict, below!

 

 

 

 

 

Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

ricGrenell 300x165 Did Team Romney Bet On The Right Horse?

The PR Verdict: "A" for Ric Grenell, Romney's short lived foreign policy PR.

Ric Grenell, Mitt Romney’s former foreign policy spokesman (of three weeks), hit the headlines yesterday.  It must have been a tough day for the Romney campaign. The resignation of a major aide is hard enough, but when he resigns after twenty one days, it’s clear trouble is brewing.

Ric Grenell has impeccable Republican credentials.  Serving four US ambassadors to the United Nations as Chief US spokesman, he carried many unpopular PR cans during the Bush presidency.  When Romney appointed him as his foreign policy spokesman it seemed a logical choice.  Then the trouble started.

Romney says Grenell’s sexuality (he is gay) was not an issue but it clearly was for some of Romney’s conservative contributors, as was Grenell’s previous endorsement of gay marriage.  Angered by his appointment, the American Family Association said Grenell’s appointment sent a “drop dead” message to supporters of traditional values.  Romney’s campaign managers asked Grenell to lay low as the protests within the party grew, hoping they would pass.  They didn’t and he resigned citing the “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.”

The PR Verdict:  “A” for Ric Grenell who left the campaign on his own terms.  Grenell left as elegantly as he could, thanking Romney for making it clear his sexuality was not an issue.  Clearly this was not the case for other Romney supporters.

PR Takeaway:  Think carefully before picking sides.  The ball is squarely in Romney’s court, now saddled with explaining how the party and its candidate are not captive to polarising social conservatives.  Headlines like this will worry moderate voters who, if the polls are to be believed, are going to make the difference for Romney.  Was this the wisest strategy?

To read more about Ric Grenell click here.

Whats your PR Verdict?

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Asian Women, Racial Stereotypes and How Not to Win a Senate Seat.

debbiespenditnow Asian Women, Racial Stereotypes and How Not to Win a Senate Seat.

THE PR VERDICT: "D" a resounding flop!

We’re more than a little stunned by the latest negative campaign ad, sponsored by U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra against incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

The thirty-second ad opens with the sound of a gong and a young Asian woman riding a bike near rice paddies. The woman stops her bike in the Asian landscape (actually California) and says in vaguely broken English, “You borrow more and more from us. Your economy gets very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you.”

If the intent was to generate national headlines and controversy then full marks to the genius that dreamt this up.  In thirty seconds the ad successfully offended Asian Americans, and alarmed Hoekstra’s own Republican leadership which immediately sought to distance itself from the ad.

The PR Verdict: “D” a resounding flop. The ensuing publicity has focused solely on Hoekstra’s questionable judgment and nothing else. How does this help his campaign?

Hoekstra’s campaign defends the ad as “satirical”.  Does this mean harmless? If so, why not substitute the Asian woman with a range of other stereotypes and wait for belly laughs from the audience?  Is Hoekstra running for the senate or trying to get as job as an intern at Saturday Night Live?

CAMPAIGN VIDEO – PETE HOEKSTRA FOR US SENATE

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