Monday morning quarterbacking is the lifeblood of the political industry. And now that Mitt Romney is struggling to break through in the polls, conservative pundits’ second guessing is louder than ever.
The problem for Romney is figuring out which of his backseat drivers know where they’re going and which are just shouting “turn right!” at every intersection.
We’ve compiled the bulk of commentators’ endless stream of pro-tips into one easy to read dossier. Now all Team Romney has to do is read over the array of sometimes bland, sometimes counterintuitive, and even more often contradictory right wing-approved options and decide how to implement it in the time he has left.
Show Us Your Plan!
Never mind the conventional wisdom until just a couple of months ago that the race was a referendum on Obama, now Romney has to give voters a clear choice. His ultra-vague tax plan is the most popular whipping boy for this argument.
“He’s gotta be mature and sensible and assume the American public is willing to hear some hard truths and explain his tax plan,” Bill Kristol said last week. The problem: Getting specific means telling Americans a bunch of things they really, really don’t want to hear.
Free Paul Ryan!
Also on the specifics front, Paul Ryan’s biggest fans are complaining that he’s not given enough freedom to promote his awesome deficit reduction plan: especially the part about privatizing Medicare. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was one of Ryan’s biggest boosters during the VP selection process, has been leading the charge on this front. But he’s hardly alone.
“Get somebody out there, and let’s talk to the American people about Medicare, and they’ll understand we have to do something,” Haley Barbour said on ABC over the weekend. But there’s little evidence Ryan’s Medicare plan is a political winner and mounting evidence that it’s currently a drag on the must-win senior vote.
Flip Off The 47 Percent!
Democrats are over the moon about Mitt Romney’s 47 percent moment. But they’re not nearly as giddy as conservative pundits who say Romney should double down — nay, treble
down — on his leaked fundraiser video.
“If I’m Governor Romney I run with this all day long!” Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox show. CNN commentator Mary Matalin expressed excitement at the possibility of finally being able to single out the “parasites” in our midst. “Team Romney should force this debate onto the national stage,” Erick Erickson proclaimed.
Do Stuff You’re Already Doing!
Hey, has Romney ever considered running on high unemployment?
“Mitt Romney has to get up there and say ‘lower unemployment, lower median income and lowered expectations,’” radio host Laura Ingraham suggested on Fox News recently.
Meghan McCain expressed similar frustration on MSNBC on Monday, saying if she were Romney she’d talk about the fact “that our unemployment is over eight percent, that the deficit is over 16 percent [sic]. Those are the types of things I would start zeroing in on.”
Go Big (On Whatever Topic I Specialize In)!
Charles Krauthammer, a leading hawk, thinks that Romney should turn his campaign around by running on tough Middle East foreign policy. As for social conservative activist and commentator Bryan Fischer, Romney would be winning handily if he just was running on banning gay marriage. Centrist columnist David Brooks thinks Romney should renege on all his campaign promises at the debate and embrace Brooks’ centrist plan to raise taxes.
Get Warm And Fuzzy!
Romney’s got an image problem? Better highlight your emotional side. Scott Walker said to show “more passion.” Jeb Bush recommended Romney “speak more from his heart” to win over those voters. Strategist Alex Castellanos said he should hang out at an unemployment line.
“When it comes to being a rich guy, Mitt Romney should own it,” National Review columnist Kevin Williamson wrote.
Be More Reagan!
Whatever the advice, there’s always a Reagan angle. Jennifer Rubin suggested Romney literally deliver Reagan’s speeches while replacing “Carter” with Obama.” Newt Gingrich suggested stealing some of Reagan’s zingers. Jeb Bush suggested following Reagan’s example and being more bipartisan. Reagan historians are more skeptical of this whole copycat idea.
Run Against A White Person!
George Will suggested on Tuesday that Romney’s biggest screw up was challenging a black president. “The nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant not to give up on the first African American president,” he wrote.
Just Go Insane!
In case of emergency, break out the Donald Trump option.
In debate, @mittromney should ask Obama why autobiography states “born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia.”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2012
This post has been updated.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.