Presidential campaigns can be sliced by demographics, ideology, or geography. A big piece of the Obama campaign emphasizes demographics with the "Republican War on Women", "Tax the Rich", and "African Americans for Obama". Both campaigns focus on the dozen or so swing states in their advertising buys. The Romney campaign - with less of a gender, income, age, or ethnicity slant - may be doing most to shape its choice of issues around the geography.
It is hard to see a path for Romney to the necessary 270 electoral votes without Florida's 29. (A sweep of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin plus the reliably Red states would yield 272, but .... See the interactive map at www.270toWin.com) Florida is a "must have". It was narrowly carried by George W in 2000 and 2004, then carried by Obama by a relatively narrow 51 to 48% 1n 2008. What to do?
First, it is essential to be on the offensive with the messaging about the Romney plan to save Medicare. It should be simple: for those over 55 there will be no change while Obama will take billions from payments to doctors and hospitals to fund Obamacare. For those under 55 there will be an option of private plans with "premium support" for the poor or retention of Medicare while Obama has no plan. Romney was explaining this in his management consultant / white board style in South Carolina last week when he again got sidetracked about his personal tax rate. There will be enough time, venues, and money to make the point.
Second, it is necessary to put some distance between the Romney and Obama policies relative to Israel. This was done on Romney's July 29 trip: Jerusalem is the capital; cultural differences explain the gap between the Israelis and the Palestinians; "any and all' measures should be on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Third, for those outside of Florida who think that policies on Cuba should be softening 53 years after Castro's revolution, sorry. In January, flanked by numerous leaders of the exile community and responding to Obama's plans to allow financial remittances and ease travel, Romney declared "no accomodation, no appeasement." Maybe when Castro dies.
Romney would also seem to hold some advantage with his surrogates and party organization in Florida. Republican governor Rick Scott has tanked since his 2010 election, in part because of efforts to purge voter rolls of illegal immigrants, but Republicans easily control the state Senate and House of Representatives. Senator Marco Rubio and former governor Jeb Bush remain highly popular and committed to Team Romney. The other senator, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, who holds a modest lead over challenger Connie Mack IV, will draw some Democrats to the polls, but the playing field tilts Republican.
The most recent Rasmussen poll show Romney ahead, but within the margin of error. If you only have capacity for one state, this is the one to watch - or to work for if you live there.
bill bowen - 8/24/2012