WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager Jim Messina is raising debate expectations for Mitt Romney--a sort of darning by faint praise--in order to lower them for the president. The first of three presidential debates is Oct. 3 in Denver.
Click below for Messina memo.
MEMORANDUM TO INTERESTED PARTIES
RE: Is Mitt Romney's Debate Prep Paying Off?
TO: Interested Parties
From: Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager
Date: September 20, 2012
In Miami last night, we saw a revamped Mitt Romney who has emerged fresh from weeks of intense debate preparations, including 5 mock debates in just 48 hours. He's quick, polished, and ready with a punchy attack against the President. But after weeks of promises from his campaign that the details were soon to arrive, what he wasn't prepared to do was offer Americans any specifics about his plans. It was no surprise that he disagrees with the President's plans to fix the broken immigration system, but he continues to offer no alternative.
Romney has had months to say whether or not he would preserve the administration's deferred action policy that allows young people who have always called the United States home a chance to stay in this country and pursue their dreams. He once again failed to do that last night. And while calling for a permanent solution he failed to offer one, refusing to express support for the DREAM Act which he has called a handout and said he'd veto. Romney wants a permanent solution - but, like everything else, he'll just leave it to someone else to figure out what that solution should be.
Romney refuses to speak publicly about the consequences of his draconian budget plan on education, which would severely cut Pell grants while giving more tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. He has previously told students to "shop around" for cheaper tuition or borrow money from their parents to go to college or start a business - a luxury many students wish they had. Instead, he pointed to the Adams Scholarship, a program he established in Massachusetts to help students pay for tuition at state schools that only actually covered 7 percent of education costs at the state's flagship university. The program was further undermined by the fact that Romney's drastic cuts to higher education in his very first year caused the cost of college in Massachusetts to skyrocket. Why should we expect anything different at the federal level?
Repeal and replace. Governor Romney tells us that's what he'd do to the Affordable Care Act. He'd certainly repeal it - but he'd replace it with nothing more than the status quo. That means as many as 9 million Latinos who will gain access to health care coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act wouldn't have it. And those Americans who lack coverage because they have a preexisting condition would be on their own. He hasn't offered many details about his plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system, but we do know is frightening. Instead of their guaranteed benefits, seniors would be left with a voucher. But the voucher wouldn't grow fast enough to keep up with the costs of health care, so seniors would find themselves paying thousands of dollars more every year - all while insurance companies made as much as $16 to $26 billion in new profits.
Romney was filled with empty promises when it came to small business, falsely attacking a President who has cut taxes for small businesses 18 times and has proposed even more hiring incentives for small business to hire, raise wages and invest in new equipment. Romney wouldn't even recognize the reality of his own tax plan - that as many as 30 million small businesses would be at risk of a tax increase in order to pay for his tax cuts weighted towards the wealthiest. Being a champion for small business means more than naming them on a placard.
Finally, Romney failed to explain the severely conservative policies he outlined on immigration during the primaries when he promoted self-deportation and told Speaker Gingrich a hardworking grandparent who'd been in the country for decades should go back to her home country. Romney may have tried to soften those policies last night with a smile and new talking points from debate camp, but Latino voters won't forget that he is the most extreme nominee on immigration in modern history, abandoning those pro-business Republicans who understood that a smart immigration policy was essential to promote economic prosperity.
Mitt Romney made up for a lackluster campaign by performing well in debates - he bragged that Time Magazine said he won 16 out of 20 primary debates, his campaign says he "dominated" them, and he says that he can "debate darn well and take it to the President." With weeks of debate prep, including an entire week during the Democratic Convention, he's obviously banking on flawless performances in October to achieve the turnaround his campaign has projected. But Americans won't score this contest on style points alone. They want to know who has the better plan to create good-paying, sustainable jobs for the middle class in the future. Mitt Romney has yet to explain how returning to the same policies that resulted in the economic crisis will do anything but further erode the economic security of middle class families. And on issue after he has yet to provide details beyond the platitudes and attacks on exactly what he would do to move this country forward.