Pick up any newspaper and you will likely see reporting on polls of the Presidential race calling it too close to call or President Obama with a slight lead in his reelection bid. Almost none of the polls of recent vintage showwith better than a slight chance at gaining the Presidency this November. There likely will be articles expressing bewilderment and complete disbelief that Romney is not ahead of President Obama when one considers the President’s record concerning the economy, foreign policies, jobs and virtually every area that voters claim to care most about. Many pundits claim that if Romney expects to win the election, he is going to need to step up his campaign and better explain how Obama has failed as President and what he would do differently. The problem is that is exactly what Romney has been doing, he has just done it in his own quiet and polite manner, and that is the problem. Campaigns for the Presidency of the United States are anything but polite contests. Americans expect a President to be bold, brash, vigorous, exciting and energetic. They also expect to at times he also be calm, calculating and keeping everything in perspective. The challenge is being able to be two diametrically opposite things at the same time.
Mitt Romney has mastered the cool, calm and collective and reflective side of the equation. What he has not shown is the excitement of a man of action that is also demanded of American Presidential candidates. Romney needs to be more assertive and make more noise and attention grabbing. Should he continue to be comparatively unexciting, reserved and in the background while President Obama continues to play up his campaign of personality over substance, Romney may find that personality outscores substance almost every time. Sure many Americans realize that the country needs a leader with substance, but they still will gravitate towards glitter and glamour while substance continues to warn them in vain. Mitt Romney, by apparent nature, is a reserved, serious, soft spoken man who while on the stage manages to avoid the spotlight while President Obama could be hiding in the top balcony but would manage to catch the spotlight away from center stage. This is the mountain that Romney needs to climb and climb it quickly. Romney has to find that set of items and gather them into an attention grabbing formula and display it all with great flair and grand gestures. Should Romney continue to be the reasonable candidate who says I know the challenges and here are the answers and then give a dry long explanation full of numbers, formulas, figures and legalese which would win in the board room, he will lose the attention of even the most reasonable of voters.
As an old Steppenwolf song “Hippo Stomp” refrain says, “If you should go astray and say ‘I lost my way’ Nobody will know you. But if you don't believe you can and still say ‘I'm your man’ Somebody will follow just because it's free.” Right now the majority of the American electorate realizes that we have lost our way and they are not looking for somebody to clarify this fact, they are looking for the one who says, “I'm your man” and as the song say, they will follow just because they perceive it to be free. Mitt Romney is in the position of telling the electorate that it will not be free but he can lead to a better future, and do so while being excited, interesting and fascinating all at the same time. President Obama has already laid claim and owns the position of being perceived as “I'm your man” which means Romney has to be the man “With the Plan” and make the plan more enticing than Obama’s persona. If Romney can find a core set of principles and make them enticingly attractive with an easy to remember, sound bite catch phrase and just beat that drum loud and proud, then we will have the one race where he might win. Then Romney can concede Obama’s claim to be the personality as long as Romney can make Obama the man without a plan and Romney as simply a man with a plan. That will make for a race between the Man and the Plan. Romney needs a sound- bite or catch phrase that relates something such as “I’m not just The Man but The Man With a Plan.”