Obama's cool factor: what Romney can do to counter it (+video)
Instead of just ignoring Obama cool, the Republicans are taking it on and arguing why he should be voted out. A 'super PAC' supporting the Romney campaign has produced a new video for this purpose.
While Mr. Obama slow-jammed the news on ‚ÄúLate Night With Jimmy Fallon‚ÄĚ ‚Äď giving the show its highest viewership in two years ‚Äď Mr. Romney‚Äôs biggest cultural moment of the week was ... what? Sitting at a picnic table with Republican voters in Bethel Park, Pa., in his crisp white shirt and necktie, turning up his nose at the cookies? Turns out they were from a beloved local bakery. Oops.
Maybe that‚Äôs not fair. After all, being cool isn‚Äôt a prerequisite for the presidency, even with young voters. And certainly, Team Obama is playing up its advantage. It‚Äôs not by chance that Obama‚Äôs image mavens gave Rolling Stone magazine an interview with the president, landing him on the cover of the latest issue.
But instead of just ignoring Obama cool, the Republicans are hanging a lantern on it, saying, in effect, We get it, and here‚Äôs why you should vote him out anyway.
That‚Äôs the essence of a new video out Thursday by American Crossroads, the big conservative ‚Äúsuper political-action committee‚ÄĚ that‚Äôs supporting the Romney campaign. The 45-second message is mostly a montage of cool Obama moments ‚Äď appearing on Jimmy Fallon, singing Al Green, calling Kanye West an expletive. Then the music stops, and the harsh statistics appear: Half of recent college grads are either jobless or underemployed. Eighty-five percent of college grads are moving in with their parents, according to a study out last May. Student-loan debt just crossed the $1 trillion mark.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôll likely push a version of that through online advertising as the president is taking his campaign to college campuses across the country,‚ÄĚ says Jonathan Collegio, communications director of American Crossroads. ‚ÄúAmericans elected a pop-culture icon for president in 2008, and in 2012 we‚Äôre seeing the results of his economy.‚ÄĚ
Says Democratic strategist Peter Fenn: ‚ÄúI ask my Republican friends, how well did that ad work out for you?‚ÄĚ
Plus, doesn‚Äôt a video that hits Obama for being cool just enhance the coolness?
‚ÄúIf at this point, a voter thinks Obama‚Äôs coolness is more important than the fact they can‚Äôt get a job, we‚Äôre probably not going to sway those people,‚ÄĚ says Mr. Collegio. ‚ÄúAnd there are those people out there.‚ÄĚ
But, he and other Republicans point out, not only do polls show that plenty of young undecided voters are open to Romney, but they also show that young voters might not bother to turn out this time. Four years ago, Obama beat John McCain among 18- to 29-year-olds, 66 percent to 32 percent. A Gallup poll this week shows roughly the same margin between Obama and Romney, but only 56 percent of this cohort say they definitely plan to vote. That‚Äôs lower than the other age groups.
And coolness does in fact matter when it comes to elections, especially when it‚Äôs the presidency, Mr. Fenn says.
‚ÄúVoting for president is the most personal vote you cast, because you really care about who‚Äôs president,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúSo you want to make sure there‚Äôs a connection, that they‚Äôre striking a responsive chord with you.‚ÄĚ
Is there a way to make Romney cool? Politico ran a piece recently suggesting the Obama campaign was ‚ÄúDraperizing‚ÄĚ Mitt Romney ‚Äď that is, trying to make him into a retro figure like Don Draper on the hit TV show ‚ÄúMad Men.‚ÄĚ There‚Äôs certainly a cool element to Draper, at least in the cut of his suits and jaunty angle of his hats.
But apparently Obama strategist David Axelrod had something else in mind. He recently joked that Romney ‚Äúmust watch ‚ÄėMad Men‚Äô and think it‚Äôs the evening news,‚ÄĚ while also accusing him of holding views from a time when ‚Äúbosses could dictate on women‚Äôs health,‚ÄĚ Politico notes.
Collegio of American Crossroads suggests a redefinition of ‚Äúcool‚ÄĚ might be in order.
‚ÄúI think for a broad swath of America, what‚Äôs cool is having five great kids, making a fortune in the private sector, loving your wife, and having a great record as governor,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúMaybe there‚Äôs a lot more substance there than style.‚ÄĚ