We knew when we picked our September book club selection, Bob Woodward’s “The Price of Politics” that the book was the talk of the town in Washington.
What we didn’t know is that it would feature prominently in a new Romney campaign ad.
On Sunday, the Romney team released “Mute Button” which takes a scene in The Price of Politics and asks “if the President cannot even lead his own party, how can he lead America?”
Watch the ad below:
Here’s the background.
During the debt ceiling negotiations last summer the President was regularly in communications with Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. As we’ll read in the book, Woodward describes how Pelosi was in a private meeting with Reid, which President Obama called into. In the midst of an “uplifting speech,” from Obama, Speaker Pelosi is alleged to have “hit the mute button, went on with their meeting, ignoring the President, not even listening to what he had to say.”
Now Pelosi disputes this, saying last week “That didn’t happen” and she released a statement after the Romney ad which said “As speaker and as Democratic leader, any call from the president would be treated with great formality and respect.”
Here’s what I think.
We know the negotiations were heated and there was a lot of back and forth. Whether the “mute button” story is true or not, hitting the mute button is nothing compared to leaving the American people in limbo and walking away from the negotiations themselves. (which Speaker Boehner did).
The real question here is why the Romney campaign decided to pick up on this anecdote and incorporate it into a TV ad. Will it work?
Maybe- if they were able to fit it into a larger story. But their campaign’s message is all over the place. From attacking the President on foreign policy, to saying he isn’t a leader of his own party, to the latest argument they’re making today, saying he is weak on China. The one thing they’re not talking about that much is the economy- jobs- which should be central to their campaign, and which you would would think is their winning argument.
Yes- it’s true that one story, one anecdote, one phrase regardless or what percentage of truth is in it- can be taken by a presidential campaign and worked into a TV ad. It’s a reminder of how anything you say (or do) in politics can always come back to haunt you. (Romney has a lot of experience in this, as we’ve seen.). But it has to fit into some kind of larger narrative.
Romney’s 47% comments did. It was exactly the picture that the Obama campaign had been painting since the end of the GOP Primaries- of a rich man who is aloof and out of touch with the average American.
The Romney argument against Obama- including in this ad- just isn’t as clear.
We’ll see as we go forward reading Woodward’s book over the next two weeks if there are any more scenes from the book that make their way into the campaign trail. Maybe one candidate will use some of what’s reported in the upcoming debates?
Finally- I wanted to say congratulations to those who retweeted and shared our promotion last week- and won free copies of the ebook. Welcome to the book club and we look forward to having you join in our discussion. So- tell me- what do you think of the Romney strategy in the “Mute Button” ad. I’ve told you what I think- now I want to hear from you.
If you haven’t already joined our Copia discussion. Here’s how you can do it:
1/ Sign-Up: If you haven’t already created a free account on TheCopia.com, you can sign up at thecopia.com/trippi.
2/ Download the book: Once you create your account, you’ll need to do two things in order to read the book along with us. You need to download an app or reader from Copia. (Instructions at: http://www.thecopia.com/about/applications.html) and then you need to download our book. Just search in the library for “The Price of Politics” and click download. This is the only way that you’ll be able to see my in-page comments.
3/ Join the Discussion: All of the discussion questions will be posted in my group on thecopia.com.