By: John LeBoutillier

Back in the days when boxing was a front-line, major sport in our country the excitement before a huge championship fight was so thick you could feel it in the days leading up to Fight Night. And, on the day of the fight the newspapers published on their sports pages a Tale of the Tape, which was a side-by-side comparison of the two fighters, comparing their age, height, weight, arm reach and records.

With 56 days to go before a huge presidential election, let’s do a political TALE OF THE TAPE:

Our categories will be: Candidate Skills, Campaign Competence, Money, Quality of Message, and Passion Differential. 

Let’s compare President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney: 

Candidate Skills: This is the array of public things a candidate must do in a campaign, i.e. be engaging on TV, good at delivering a message in media interviews, able to convey him or herself to the viewer, connect in public when talking to an audience – be it in a huge auditorium, the living room of a small house party or even quickly in a one-on-one setting such as on a rope line or a random walk through a factory or an airport terminal. “Connect with people” is the term used to describe this particular skill – and make no mistake about it, it is a skill, albeit probably not a learnable one. 

Campaign Competence: A campaign is a direct reflection of the candidate’s character, personality and habits. If the candidate is sloppy, perpetually late and inattentive to detail, so is his campaign. Conversely, if the candidate is always ahead of the curve, on top of things and totally engaged, his campaign will be a first class operation. The hunger and “fire in his belly” will be transmitted down to the staff and will manifest itself in the daily actions of each aspect of the campaign. Similarly, the candidate’s political instincts – good or bad – will be seen in the actions of the campaign staff, the press releases, the TV and radio ads and the field operations which include the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort. 

Money: The Mother’s Milk of Politics – so crucial to a campaign’s ability to sell its message – is today a combination of the actual campaign’s own fundraising and the independent money spent by these SuperPACs on behalf of a campaign. So, to judge who has an advantage, you need to look at both. 

Quality of Message: This is one of the most under-rated and least talked about aspects of a campaign in the so-called Mainstream Media. While these know-nothing commentators huff and puff over how much money someone has raised, they ignore how effectively that money is being spent! A campaign can squander a huge financial advantage by spending the dough on a poor message while another campaign can prosper on less money by spreading a more powerful message. 

Passion Differential: Which way is the energy in the race flowing? Which side is more juiced to vote? Often the vote against someone is more impassioned than those who are voting for someone. 

OK, these are the five most crucial categories of our Political Tale of the Tape.

Now let’s compare the Obama and Romney operations: 

1. Candidate Skills: President Obama is a far superior candidate than the stiff, awkward Mitt Romney. No matter how hard Romney tries – and no one can accuse him of being lazy or not giving full effort – he just has a real problem “connecting” with people. Advantage: Obama. 

2. Campaign Competence: Again, Team Obama is far superior than the Romney Operation, which is slow-to-respond, runs poorer commercials, has made more gaffes and is always two steps behind the President’s Chicago campaign staff. Team Obama is doing a better job with a weaker hand (see these continuing horrendous jobs numbers) than Team Romney. Rasmussen has just found that 47% of likely voters see Obama as the better job creator to 45% who see Romney that way. This means that Romney’s entire rationale for running - that he “can get the economy back to creating good new jobs” - is not being believed. On the ground, the Obama GOTV (get out the vote) effort is far ahead of Romney’s; dozens of Obama/Biden field offices throughout the battleground states have been up and running for almost a year while Romney/Ryan is just now opening a few. Advantage: Obama. 

3. Money: The Romney fundraising operation had been better than Obama’s. For five months Team Romney out-raised Team Obama. Until August, when the President’s campaign raised $114 million to $111.6 million for Romney. The anti-Obama sentiment in the business community, especially Wall Street and the world of private equity from which Romney comes, has severely hurt Obama’s fundraising this time around. In 2008 he lapped the field; not so this year. Because Romney has more money in the bank for the final 8 weeks and has more SuperPAC money helping him, he wins this category. Advantage: Romney. 

4. Quality of Message: both campaigns have been totally negative. Period. Neither has even attempted to spell out a positive vision for the future – and how we are going to get there. Romney’s entire campaign has basically been, “The economy is a disaster and Obama is the President so throw him out.” Obama’s message is, “Don’t blame me! I inherited this mess from the Bushes!” Both messages work for their respective bases – but not for the crucial independent voters. Thus, both campaigns are missing a huge opportunity to forge a leadership position. Advantage: neither campaign. 

5. Passion Differential: Up until the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, the passion differential clearly favored Romney as more people wanted to throw out Obama than wanted to keep him. However, some polling in the past days indicates that Charlotte juiced Democratic enthusiasm – and there is a small, but brewing Revolt on the Right against Romney’s poor campaign. (Rush, Rupert Murdoch, Chris Ruddy, Laura Ingraham and the Weekly Standard are all criticizing Romney for not unveiling any specifics over how to turn around the economy.) As of today the Passion Differential still favors Romney, but there are 8 weeks left and that could change. Advantage: Romney.   

                                TALE OF THE TAPE 

                                                                OBAMA      ROMNEY 

CANDIDATE SKILLS                                       X 

CAMPAIGN COMPETENCE                              X 

MONEY                                                                         X 

QUALITY OF MESSAGE                                  NEITHER 

PASSION DIFFERENTIAL                                                X

"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Former US Rep. John LeBoutillier is co-host of CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL, airing live every Monday at 2 PM ET on Foxnews.com.  He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

John LeBoutillier can be reached at: johnlebout@johnlebout.com

He keeps an archive of his articles at: JohnLeBout.com

Published in the September 16, 2012 issue of  Ether Zone.
Copyright 1997 - 2012 Ether Zone.

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