There was a time when the major parties would lay low during the other side’s political conventions, giving them their moment and expecting the same in return. Such gentlemen’s agreements are long past now.
They don’t even bother to hide it. On Sunday, Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and representative of Florida’s 20th congressional district, gave reporters a tour of her party’s “war room” to counter the Republican message from their Tampa political convention.
“I love every bit of it,” Wasserman-Schultz told the Tampa Bay Times, when asked about her role as chief buzz-killer. “It’s going to be crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The war room was supposed to be bolstered by Vice President Joe Biden, who was set to appear in Florida during this week’s convention. Hurricane Isaac forced the White House to scuttle plans to fly him in on Monday.
Prior to the cancellation though, Obama campaign officials were openly touting it as an effort to disrupt the GOP’s message. Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Biden was “going to the belly of the beast.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus used the opportunity to get snarky with Wasserman-Schultz, tweeting Sunday: “Interesting contrast, @DWStweets [her Twitter handle] thought politicking in Tampa was more important than hurricane prep in her district.” (Later that day, Wasserman-Schultz did cancel a planned press conference to head to her home district.)
That’s not all. President Obama may not be in Florida, but he will be making a series of campaign stops to battleground states throughout the coming week. These include Ames, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colorado, on Tuesday, and Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday. That last appearance is timed to coincide with Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech accepting his party’s vice presidential nomination.
To top it all off, First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on Late Night with David Letterman on Wednesday as well.
The calculated strategy behind all of this is to keep the focus on Mitt Romney’s negatives and not give his campaign the chance to change the subject to the economy – or any other subject, for that matter.
Part of the frustration Republicans feel is that the Democrats’ media blitzes have been fairly successful. “I do think the president’s campaign of personal vilification and demonization probably draws some people away from me,” Mitt Romney told USA Today on Sunday.
It’s not like Republicans have not played the same game, though. In 2008, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was dispatched to the Democratic convention in Denver to counter their message. The GOP will likely have some type of a presence in Charlotte, N.C., next week during the Democrats’ convention too.
Unfortunately for the GOP, their best tool for stepping on the Democrats’ message won’t come until the first Monday of September, when the next unemployment report comes out. The jobless rate is expected to remain above 8 percent. We will know for certain after the Democratic convention is over.