The Obama campaign hopes to turn Mitt Romney into the John Kerry of 2012 by November. In the meantime, it's turning John Kerry into Mitt Romney, asking the senator to stand in for Romney during President Obama's debate prep. It's a sign that maybe the Obama campaign is taking the last 18 months of Romney/Kerry comparisons a little too literally. Kerry won't just say what the campaign thinks Romney will say in response to debate questions, he'll mimic Romney's speaking style and posture, too, the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson reports.
Kerry and Romney are both really rich. They both have really fancy vacation homes. They both tend to say the wrong thing about local sandwiches. You can see why the Obama campaign would be intrigued by the similarities between the guy who lost to a not-very-popular incumbent president in 2004 and the guy it hopes will lose to a not-very-popular incumbent president in 2012. In October, the New York Times reported the Obama campaign was studying how to portray Romney as a flip-flopper without core convictions, while Obama made tough-but-unpopular decisions to save the country from peril.
Obama is known for his skills at public speaking, but if the campaign is drawing lessons from the 2004 debates, they know there's not much to win by winning. In October 2004, Pew Research Center found that by a two-to-one margin, voters thought Kerry won the debates against Bush, but Bush held onto "a much stronger personal image than his Democratic challenger." Among the negative words viewers attached to Kerry were "arrogant," "wishy-washy," "indecisive," "flip-flop," "politician," and "untrustworthy." If you've watched any Obama attack ads recently, you're familiar with those themes. But while Kerry might be like Romney, Obama happens to be like Romney too. They're both described by reporters and associates as aloof, bad at making friends, arrogant.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.