Commentary Magazine


Topic: campaign speeches

Romney’s Speech Theme Sounds Familiar

It already looks like the media spin on Romney’s economic speech is going to be “he didn’t give any specifics!” No surprise — this was billed as a closing argument, and that’s what he gave. It was a general summary of what he’s been saying on the trail for the past few months, his five-point plan, and his critique of Obama’s policies. The full transcript is here.

But the really interesting part was how brazenly Romney seized the “change” theme from Obama. He used the word “change” or some variation of it 17 times in the speech. And he really started hammering the message toward the end:

What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty, and demand the scale of change we deserve: we need real change, big change.

Our campaign is about that kind of change–confronting the problems that politicians have avoided for over a decade, revitalizing our competitive economy, modernizing our education, restoring our founding principles.

This is the kind of change that promises a better future, one shaped by men and women pursuing their dreams in their own unique ways.

This election is a choice between the status quo — going forward with the same policies of the last four years — or instead, choosing real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past.

If you are ready for that kind of change, if you want this to be a turning point in America’s course, join Paul Ryan and me, get your family and friends to join us, and vote now for the kind of leadership that these times demand.

This is a smart move by Romney. Obama’s 2008 branding was so effective that you can barely listen to the word “change” in a political speech without thinking back to it. Romney’s reminding voters of Obama’s failed promises without explicitly attacking him.

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It already looks like the media spin on Romney’s economic speech is going to be “he didn’t give any specifics!” No surprise — this was billed as a closing argument, and that’s what he gave. It was a general summary of what he’s been saying on the trail for the past few months, his five-point plan, and his critique of Obama’s policies. The full transcript is here.

But the really interesting part was how brazenly Romney seized the “change” theme from Obama. He used the word “change” or some variation of it 17 times in the speech. And he really started hammering the message toward the end:

What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty, and demand the scale of change we deserve: we need real change, big change.

Our campaign is about that kind of change–confronting the problems that politicians have avoided for over a decade, revitalizing our competitive economy, modernizing our education, restoring our founding principles.

This is the kind of change that promises a better future, one shaped by men and women pursuing their dreams in their own unique ways.

This election is a choice between the status quo — going forward with the same policies of the last four years — or instead, choosing real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past.

If you are ready for that kind of change, if you want this to be a turning point in America’s course, join Paul Ryan and me, get your family and friends to join us, and vote now for the kind of leadership that these times demand.

This is a smart move by Romney. Obama’s 2008 branding was so effective that you can barely listen to the word “change” in a political speech without thinking back to it. Romney’s reminding voters of Obama’s failed promises without explicitly attacking him.

It also puts Obama in an awkward position. If he criticizes Romney for stealing the “change” theme, he risks calling more attention to his stark deviation from the 2008 campaign. If he ignores it, then it will look like he ceded the mantle to Romney.

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