Don Draper, “Mad Men’s” master of media and perception, said it best: “If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.”
Questions surrounding Mitt Romney’s relationship with Bain Capital and his personal finances have spurred a feeding frenzy in the press, drowning out almost all other campaign news over the last week. Not surprisingly, Romney and his surrogates have seized on a wide range of issues to try and steer the topic to something, anything other than Bain — with mixed results.
Changing the subject is a hallmark of a flailing campaign. Republicans routinely accuse Obama of doing the exact same thing when he focuses on Bain instead of the weak economic reports. But the attacks floated by the Romney team this week — some old, some new — are impressive for their sheer magnitude and speed.
Here’s a rough list of alternative issues the Romney campaign has dangled in front of the press since Thursday, when Romney’s SEC filings became the dominant campaign story.
• Negative campaigning: Romney’s campaign, which was already running new ads accusing Obama of betraying his “hope and change” mantra with negative attacks, has leveled this charge constantly. “While lamenting negative ads and calling for a debate on the issues, his campaign is running a dishonest, shameful smear campaign with no plans to get Americans back to work,” one typical Romney press release from Friday read.
• Apology, Please: Republicans seized on a comment from Obama aide Stephanie Cutter suggesting Romney may have committed a felony if he offered misleading information in his SEC filings. Romney demanded a personal apology from the president during a media blitz on five networks Friday. He didn’t get one.
• VP Speculation: As things got out of hand Thursday, Drudge Report, which has been closely tied to the Romney campaign throughout the election, reported Romney was considering Condolezza Rice as running mate. He almost certainly wasn’t — Romney has said he’ll pick a pro-life veep, and repeated that pledge again the next day — but it was a handy distraction for a few hours. They tried the same trick again Monday, when any aide said Romney could announce a vice-presidential pick that week. Or not.
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