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Is Team Romney being vague on purpose?

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (file)
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (file)Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Is Team Romney's vague messaging on the Romney-Ryan budget plan due to Romney campaign incompetence or intentional lack of specificity?

Let's start with the incompetence argument. Mitt Romney tapped adviser Beth Myers to lead his VP search on April 16. Romney announced his pick on August 11. That means the Romney campaign had at least 117 days to define their messaging on potential VP outcomes. Seems like plenty of time to get it right.

And yet the Romney campaign flubbed the messaging, with more time to prepare, on an equally predictable event: the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act federal mandate. Following the ruling, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told MSNBC...

"The governor... disagrees with the Court's ruling that the mandate was a tax."

...before Mitt Romney said two days later on CBS News...

"The majority of the court said it's a tax and therefore it is a tax."

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Affordable Care Act case on November 14, 2011. Their ruling arrived on June 28, 2012. That means the Romney campaign had at least 227 days to define their messaging on potential SCOTUS outcomes. Seems like plenty of time to get it right, and yet they got it wrong.

As far as the 'intentional lack of specificity' argument, consider this quote from a Romney advisor in Politico today...

"The nature of running a presidential campaign is that you’re communicating direction to the American people... Campaigns that are about specifics, particularly in today’s environment, get tripped up."

And Romney said this to the Weekly Standard in April...

“One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education... So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”

The guy likes his vagueness. So, vague messaging on the Romney-Ryan plan — intentional, or incompetence, or a little of both?

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