Commentary Magazine


Romney, Day One

What would Day One of a Romney presidency look like? In his first general election ad, Romney outlines the three main priorities he would address as soon as he took office: approving the Keystone XL pipeline, instituting tax cuts and reforms and replacing Obamacare:

Notice Romney emphasizes “replacing” Obamacare, as opposed to his dubious primary claim that he would issue state waivers on his first day in office. The difficulty now is figuring out what exactly to replace it with. The vague promise of “common sense health reform” works in TV ads, but he’s going to have to get specific soon, which raises several political problems for him. Because he’s the author of RomneyCare, his plan will have to meet a very, very high bar with distrustful conservatives. And as soon as he actually issues a specific proposal, he’ll also give Democrats a major opening to attack him.

The commercial itself, which is reportedly a $1.2 million buy in four swing states, shows Romney is trying to keep his own campaign largely positive, and leave the attacks to outside conservative groups and surrogates. But this particular ad also seems ripe for parody, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a Democratic group released a horror movie-style ad about Day One of the Romney presidency to counter it.

It’s also true that it’s going to be much easier for Romney to run a positive-style campaign than it will be for Obama. While Romney has the advantage of being able to make lofty promises and create an idealistic image of what his administration would look like, Obama has to deal with the reality of his first term, which failed to live up to his glowing vision from 2008.