President Barack Obama represents a ripe target for Republican presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney, but he must add more substance to his speeches to take advantage of the opportunity, says Wall Street Journal
columnist Peggy Noonan.
“The Romney strategy the past eight weeks has been, in a small way, shrewd: have the candidates out there talking in a candidate-like manner, but don't let him say anything so interesting that it will take the cameras off Mr. Obama,” she writes.
“The president is lurching from gaffe to mess, from bad news to worse. Don't get in his way as he harms himself. It's working, but won't for long. People want meaning, a higher and declared purpose.”
Romney must come out and say what he stands for, argues Noonan, a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. “Mr. Romney has to start pulling from his brain and soul a coherent and graspable sense of the meaning of his run. ‘I will be president for this reason and this. I will move for this and this,” she writes.
At this point, Romney’s speeches are largely focused on applause lines, Noonan points out. “They come one after another. It's old-fashioned, and it's based on the idea that that's all TV wants, five seconds of a line and two seconds of applause.”
But that’s not enough, she says. “Applause-line speeches aren't suited to the technological moment, when people can click on a link and listen to a whole speech if they have time. If all it is is applause lines, they'll turn away.”
“More important, applause-line speeches are not right for a time of crisis, because they do not allow for the development of a thought, a point of view, an insight. . . . People like to listen if you're saying something interesting.”
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