Mitt Romney's General Election Pivots

Obama will paint Romney as a conservative as the former governor goes after the youth and Latinos.

Mitt Romney

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

And those pivots also underscore the second emerging strain of the Romney strategy, what MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has called the "I'm rubber, you're glue" strategy whereby Romney goes to at times preposterous lengths to ascribe his own faults to his opponents. So he attacked Rick Santorum for being a faux conservative flip-flopper. So Romney, he of two Harvard degrees, attacks Obama for having spent too much time at Harvard. So Romney, who has embraced Paul Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher program, accuses Obama of attempting to "end Medicare as we know it." So it is Obama, in Romney's view, who has problems with women, Hispanics, and young voters. And so on.

The youth vote fight also shed light on how Obama's team plans to deal with Romney, whether to emphasize his flip-floppery or the "severely conservative" positions he took in his primary fights. Judging by its television ads thus far, and according to recent reports, the Obama campaign has decided to lash Romney to his primary campaign, Tea Party-oriented positions. "The decision here is that if you are going to pin the tail on the donkey," one anonymous Democratic strategist told Politico last week, "let's make it a conservative tail."

At the same time, however, there's no reason that when Romney tries to Etch A Sketch away his old positions, they can't nail him. "I don't think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, 'Everything I've said for the last six months, I didn't mean,' " Obama told Rolling Stone. "I'm assuming that he meant it. When you're running for president, people are paying attention to what you're saying."

Romney seems to think otherwise. He may be in for quite a surprise.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.
  • Read the U.S. News debate: Has the Drawn-out Primary Crippled Romney's Chances Against Obama?
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy