The presidential debates, the first of which takes place tomorrow, will be the first chance for many voters to get a good look at Mitt Romney. The debates provide Romney with a rare opportunity to make his case to voters in a way that’s largely “unfiltered,” as Chris Christie politely put it in Sunday interviews. By unfiltered, of course, Christie meant free of the spin, selective editing, and bias by omission that the Obama-friendly media uses to suppress or distort the message of Republican politicians and conservative pundits.
Romney will be constrained by the debate format, by Obama’s filibustering and obfuscation, and perhaps by the biases of the moderators; it’s still his best chance to introduce some 60 million Americans to his beliefs and policy ideas on something approaching his own terms. Just as importantly, it’s his opportunity to acquaint voters with some of the scandals that have beset the Obama administration, and with some of the president’s most damaging blunders and revealing comments. Most of these are notorious among conservatives, though the media gatekeepers have done their best to ignore or minimize them.
What follows is a list of ten lines of attack that Romney should use when the opportunities present themselves. For good measure, at the end of each point is a line Romney could deliver.
1. Obama could not remember the size of the debt
The national debt is sure to come up. In addition to hammering Obama on the size of the debt itself, Romney should goad Obama about his appearance on David Letterman’s show, when he pretended not to be able to recall the figure. This line of attack will be even more effective if Romney can challenge Obama on his “forgetfulness” before the figure has been mentioned.
Killer line: “Can you tell us that number tonight, Mr. President?”
While on the subject of the economy, Romney can point to the chaos now enveloping Spain, Greece, and France. In France, under socialist President Francois Hollande the economy is teetering on the brink of recession, unemployment has reached its highest level in ten years, and wealthy individuals and businesses are fleeing punitive new tax rates of up to 75 percent. Romney can declare that this is what the future holds for America if it remains on its current course of ever-higher state spending and ballooning entitlements, and it’s not pretty: crushing austerity measures and riots. At home, Romney can point to the fate of California, run into the ground by a governing coalition of Democrats and big labor.
Killer line. “When your liberal friends say they’d like America to be more like France, is this what they have in mind?”
3. Energy policy
Romney should confront Obama with two soundbites on this subject that most Americans are unlikely to have heard, both from an interview he gave to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. Obama said that under his cap-and-trade plans, energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket,” and warned that if somebody wanted to build a coal power plant, “it will bankrupt them.” With gas prices rising, Romney might also mention that shortly before being appointed energy secretary, Steven Chu told the New York Times: “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
Romney should point to the efforts of the Obama administration and its supporters in the environmental lobby to thwart efforts to create jobs and to make America energy independent: opposition to the Keystone pipeline and fracking; the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He should point to the wasting of billions of dollars on failed green energy projects. Foremost of these is Solyndra, and Romney should seize any opportunity to remind voters of that scandal, including the fact that the Solyndra investors who benefitted from Obama’s largesse included donors to his campaign.
Killer line: “You don’t make America energy-independent by wrecking the coal and gas industries, destroying thousands of jobs, and blowing billions of dollars on the pipe dreams of your Democrat cronies.”