The big winner of this week’s Message of the Week Award is Barack Obama and not just because Oprah Winfrey endorsed him. Obama wins because he found an answer to the experience question that rings true with Americans: it’s not about experience, it’s about judgment.
Since summer, Obama has been tackling the experience issue by pointing to what experienced people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have done for us. But when he changes the argument to focus on good judgment vs. bad judgment, he focuses on his strength and stands a much better chance against not just Hillary Clinton, but the Republicans.
In a previous article, I talked about how the Democrats should focus on competence and on running a smarter war. Obama has taken this to the next level by framing it in terms of judgment.And it doesn’t hurt to have Oprah Winfrey making his case.
The big messaging loser of the week was Mitt Romney. In the face of recent pressure from evangelicals to explain his religious beliefs and the rise of Mike Huckabee, Romney bowed to pressure and gave a speech on religion that some likened to JFKs speech on his Catholic beliefs.Here’s the difference. With JFK, people were worried that his Catholic beliefs might influence his decisions. So he talked about separation of church and state. With Romney, the evangelicals are worried that he won’t carry out their agenda. So he talked about separation of church and state.Problem: Evangelicals want to eliminate the separation between church and state.
I believe Romney has dug himself deeper by acknowledging that religion matters. If religion matters, as an evangelical who would you vote for, the “real” evangelical Huckabee or the wannabe evangelical Mormon Romney?
Romney looks good if the debate is over who is the better business manager. He should have stuck to this argument.