The Mitt Romney campaign is reeling this morning as it contemplates the best strategy for dealing with one of it’s supporters controversial comments. Ted Nugent, a legendary musician and Romney supporter, set off a firestorm yesterday when he warned that if President Barack Obama, were re-elected he would “be in jail or dead”. He further signaled that the current President’s re-election would drive him to violence by comparing the President to a coyote that had invaded the homes of the American people and urinated on their furniture. “Its not the coyotes fault…” said Nugent, “its your fault for not shooting the coyote”. Nugent’s comments have drawn surprisingly little reaction from Republicans and right wing pundits. Few if any, have condemned Nugent’s threats of violence. The silence is most notable from Mitt Romney himself. The refusal to comment is striking in part because it contrasts directly with a recent controversy in which a prominent Democrat (Hilary Rosen) insulted Romney and his wife. Republicans demanded that virtually every democrat, including the President repudiate the comments (which they did condemn, publicly).
Nugent wasn’t the only Romney supporter that made noteworthy comments yesterday. Congressman Louie Gomert was asked if he was enthusiastic about voting for Romney. He replied that he was more “desperate than excited”. The Romney campaign has faced a single persistent problem. No one in the Republican Party, let alone the country, is excited about his candidacy. Romney’s own party has no faith in his core values or policies. Romney won his primary by drowning his republican opponents in cash. He ran ads that most in his own party regarded as demonstrably false.Unfortunately, when a candidate cannot inspire his base through the power of his personage, he must inspire them through fear.
In November, the Fear Strategy will be expanded to the general electorate. The Republicans will argue that the nation will not survive if President Obama is re-elected. They will not persuade voters through the power of their ideas; they will instead rely on the dread inspired by imagined consequences. Unlike the Republicans, President Obama cannot run, by attempting to prove a negative. He will have to defend his record and his ideas. Although, insiders are warning that the re-election campaign will be more aggressive then the first election, President Obama will likely run on some variation of his 2008 slogan of Hope and Change. The 2012 race will be a choice between Hope and Fear. Which is truly more powerful? Will Hope triumph of Fear? We will see.