Mitt Romney’s keynote speech at the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa “has got to be a grand slam” if he wants to win the White House in November, author and media strategist Craig Shirley tells Newsmax.TV.
“It’s going to be his first introduction to all the American people, so he’s got to hit it out of the park,” Shirley, president and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “Singles and doubles and sacrifice slides won’t do it. This has got to be a grand slam.
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“He’s got to get out of the weeds of tax returns and all the minutiae and the tactics of politics – and he’s got to reframe the debate. He’s got to recast it and make it about big things. He’s got to make it about freedom versus collectivism: the collectivism of liberalism versus the freedom of conservatism.
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“He’s got to make it about the American people, and he’s got to make it about the future,” Shirley added. “Right now, the future is up for grabs between both parties – and both candidates are going to be grasping for it.
“What Romney needs to do is make a better case than President Obama that he is the candidate of the future.”
Shirley is also an historian and author of two best-selling books on the nation’s 40th president: “Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All” and “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America.” His latest is “December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World.”
He said it was critical that Romney approach his RNC speech this way next week because “the American people are reluctant about throwing incumbent presidents out of office.
“We’ve had twenty-some-odd elections since 1900 – and we’ve only had a handful, in all four years, from 1900 up until today, 2012, in which incumbent presidents have been thrown out of office in a straight-up decision with no anomaly involved.”
Shirley explained: “In 1912, Taft lost to Wilson, but because of the third party presence of Teddy Roosevelt. He siphoned off votes from the incumbent – whereas in 1932, it was a straight-up choice between the status quo of Herbert Hoover and the change of Franklin Roosevelt.
“In 1976, the incumbent, Ford, is turned out by the challenger, Carter, but Ford was an unelected incumbent, so it was an anomalous election. In 1980, it was a straight-up choice between the status quo Jimmy Carter and the change of Ronald Reagan.
“And, of course, in 1992, an incumbent president is turned out, George Herbert Walker Bush, by the challenger, Bill Clinton, but because of the presence of Ross Perot as a third party candidate. That, again, made it an anomalous election.
“So, only twice in over 100 years has an incumbent been turned out of office,” Shirley concluded. “The American people are conservative in many regards, including how they regard incumbents and giving them as much leeway as possible.”
Shirley said Romney also faced a tough challenge in embattled Missouri senatorial candidate Rep. Todd Akin, who remained adamant about staying in the state’s vital race despite the former Massachusetts governor calling for him Tuesday afternoon to step down.
Akin’s weekend suggestion that women rarely get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape,” because their bodies shut down, have caused much rancor within the GOP. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign reiterated its promise on Tuesday to withdraw $5 million in advertising it had planned for his race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
“If he doesn’t force him out of the race,” Shirley said of Romney, “then people will say, ‘Well, he failed his first test as the leader of the Republican Party because he couldn’t get the senate nominee out of the race.’ He’s gone, I think, as far as he can.”
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But Shirley added, regarding Akin: “I can imagine what he and his wife are saying: ‘If I step aside, then I’m finished for the rest of my life. I’m out of politics for the rest of my life.’ ”
“Whereas, he has one shot of reclaiming the debate and reclaiming his campaign – but he might be deciding that it’s a choice between no future and a very, very limited future.
“And if I was in his situation, I’d be thinking real hard about staying in the race, because I would have one shot at it – whereas if I step aside, then I have no shot,” he said.
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