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A Memo on Romney's TV Ads

12:00 AM, Sep 19, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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On Monday, the Romney campaign trumpeted a plan to change the campaign's direction and "reinforce more specifics" on policy. THE WEEKLY STANDARD has obtained a copy of a memo from GOP political veteran David Smick, addressed to the Romney campaign, with advice on how to "revamp" the television ad strategy. Read the memo below:

Mitt Romney

To:                  Romney Campaign

From:              David Smick

Subject:           Time to Revamp the Ads

There is a dulling similarity to all the political ads on the domestic economy flooding the airwaves. This is true for both candidates. Why not try something completely different – maybe even a bit nerdy. You might punch through with the relatively small number of undecided voters who are quickly becoming numb to the traditional paid media blitz.

At minimum you need to test some television and/or U-Tube spots in which Governor Romney and possibly Paul Ryan conduct a series of tutorials about the nation’s economic problems and how things can actually be fixed. Note: These should be atypical of traditional political advertising – almost corny with charts and graphics a la the early days of Reagan  (remember the successful Oval Office Star Wars graphics and Reagan’s budget and tax charts). Think the weird but compelling image of Ross Perot on TV for an hour in 1992 with charts and simple explanations of the debt problem.

My point is that Romney and Ryan continually use phrases such as “debt as a percentage of GDP.” Most folks don’t know what this means so the idea needs to be explained. The message should be clear from this new tutorial effort that Mitt Romney has answers. He’s ready to go.

Here’s an example, though there obviously would need to be editing for length.

SPOT NUMBER 1. THE DEBT PAC-MAN

ROMNEY: Ever notice that Barack Obama doesn’t talk about America’s $16 trillion debt problem [introduce graph of a small PAC-MAN moving to the right while munching up every object in its way as it slowly grows in size. The PAC-MAN is labeled “government.”].

That’s because he spent far too much on a lot of failed programs [Solyndra sign].

But that’s not all. Americans are getting older. The baby boomers are retiring. Government retirement programs are being overwhelmed [PAC-MAN becomes even larger as it munches on]. ObamaCare doesn’t help because it raids $716 billion from one of those programs – Medicare [PAC-MAN abruptly jumps to an even larger size]. Meanwhile, the budget monster grows. It’s now bigger than our entire economy.

Even Democratic budget experts [image of Alice Rivlin testifying] say America’s entitlement PAC-MAN could soon gobble up most of the federal budget. That means not enough money for education, social programs for the poor, and national defense [PAC-MAN now staring straight at the camera as it continues aggressive munching, like it’s about to attack the viewer]. History shows that when great nations become weak and vulnerable, the cause is always massive debt.

Barack Obama’s bipartisan commission offered a solution [PAC-MAN begins to drop in size]. Incredibly, the President walked away. He said the problem’s politically too tough.

He’s wrong. Together we can fix this. But the longer we wait, the bigger the problem [PAC-MAN now back to being huge, chomping away at a map of the United States].

SPOT NUMBER 2.     ENERGY AND WAGES

ROMNEY: Ever wonder why for decades wages and salaries keep falling behind? You work harder but take home less. One reason is the cost of energy. Since the Arab oil embargoes in the 1970s [vertical bar chart showing the price of oil going up while wages are slowly going down], energy prices have steadily jumped while take-home pay for working families has stagnated [oil sheiks celebrating].

Today bipartisan experts agree something amazing is afoot – newly found natural gas fields and new oil drilling technologies mean America could be an energy exporter within five years. We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We’ve got coal. With cheaper energy, wages could rise again [vertical bar graph in reverse showing energy prices going down with wages going up].

Yet Barack Obama is trying to kill these energy breakthroughs. He killed the Keystone XL pipeline with Canada. His EPA wants to outlaw these new revolutionary technologies [vertical bar graph with wages going down again as energy prices go up]. He suggests failed taxpayer subsidized solar panel companies and windmills are the way to go [sign of Solyndra].

This is a critical moment. We can become an energy exporter [show Arab sheiks no longer laughing]. Wages and salaries can rise again [cheering crowds]. This is big. We can do this!

Other spots should address: (1) How jobs are created. Explain the 80 Percent Rule: Roughly 80 percent of new jobs come from young, small businesses; more than 80 percent of those jobs come after a firm goes public; but since Obama was elected, the number of firms going public has dropped by more than 80 percent. One big reason: It now costs $1-3 million in legal fees to go public as a result of Washington’s new regulations. Why are there so few new jobs? How many small businesses do you know have millions sitting around simply to pay lawyers?; and

(2) Using John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as examples, argue that despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, reform of the tax code creating lower tax rates can dramatically raise growth rates and the level of job creation.

A third example is Bill Clinton. He cut the capital gains tax rate 30 percent in the 1990s and agreed to Republican budgets to control spending (the Romney and last Clinton budgets are the same in size as a percentage of GDP). Job creation and economic growth soared.

Give a historical context to Romney’s agenda. Explain that what Mitt Romney is proposing is a version of the successful growth policies of Kennedy, Reagan and, yes, Clinton. Those policies worked then; they’ll work now.

Final point: Romney talks of debt as burdening the future of our “children’s children.” The truth is people are pretty selfish. What they really care about is themselves. You might, therefore, explain the exploding debt problem using the analogy of cigarette smoking. You know it’s bad for your health. It’ll kill you. There are no bad symptoms yet, and you enjoy the short-term pleasure of the smoke. But unless you stop, catastrophe lies ahead.

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