A number of prominent Democrats and others not so prominent have gone public with their concerns over the direction of the Obama campaign, warning that the continued harsh criticisms of private equity firms can easily be interpreted as attacks on capitalism as the foundation of the nation’s economy. Obama also risks appearing petty, small-minded and mean-spirited, a candidate who enthusiastically embraces negativity rather than offering his own vision and purpose.
It’s likely that these concerns have been expressed privately as well and in more colorful terms, but to no apparent avail.
Certainly, Romney’s record at Bain Capital should not be immune from campaign scrutiny. He has, after all, touted his successes as one of the principal reasons he’s qualified to address the nation’s economic woes as president.
By focusing so intently on those instances in which Bain Capital’s investments came up short and resulted in plant closures and job losses, the Obama campaign has exposed itself to attacks on the President’s three and one-half year record of high unemployment, low consumer confidence, a record number of home foreclosures, unprecedented debt and deficit, and a dismal job growth rate.
It also provides Romney an opening to recite Bain’s successes and deliver a message sharply contrasting with that of the President.
Mid-course campaign corrections are extraordinarily difficult to manage without appearing desperate or publicly confessing committing a grievous error in the first place. Such readjustments also usually ignite a search for scapegoats, someone to blame for faulty judgments and advice.
Should internal pressures continue to build, though, and if polling data reveals minimal damage to Romney’s standing, the President’s campaign may be left with little choice but to shift its approach.
Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Richard Stockton College.