Two top surrogates said Sunday that Mitt Romney cannot defeat President Obama in November simply by attacking him, and needs to run on a strong vision of his own.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) agreed when asked if his party’s presidential nominee “needs to offer a bold, affirmative agenda” in order to win.
“The American people will rightly, I think, demand to know something more than he’s not President Obama,” Daniels said. “He’s got to use this fall as an opportunity to build a consensus across, I hope, a broad spectrum of Americans to make the big changes we need. … He better have an affirmative, constructive message, and one of hope.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who comfortably won his recall race last week, made a similar point Sunday.
On CBS’ “Face The Nation,” he said voters want leaders who are “willing to take on the tough issues, not only here in Wisconsin but across the country. And I think Gov. Romney’s got a shot if the ‘R’ next to his name doesn’t just stand for Republican, it stands for reformer — if he shows my state and he shows Americans that he’s got a plan.”
“I just hope he takes a page out of President Reagan’s playbook in 1980 where it was not only a referendum on the failed policies of President Carter at the time,” Walker added. “It was also something where President Reagan laid out a clear plan.”
The governors’ remarks may signal an unease that some Republicans don’t believe Romney has offered a clear enough vision of his own. But there’s also a deeper dynamic at play.
The conservative movement views the upcoming election as an exceedingly rare opportunity to push through reforms that radically reduce the size and scope of government. While Romney and establishment figures have sought to make the election a referendum on Obama, right-wing stars like Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have repeatedly urged him to champion a bold, sweeping agenda to lay the groundwork for a national transformation if he wins.
“I don’t think we win if it’s just about a referendum on Barack Obama,” Walker said Sunday.
Daniels warned Republicans not to over-interpret Walker’s recall victory, attributing the outcome to local factors in Wisconsin.
“It would be, I think, a huge mistake for Republicans to misread Wisconsin as some kind of great harbinger [for November],” he said. “I don’t see it that way at all.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.