In response to Mitt Romney’s announcement that he will not seek reelection, Deval Patrick has, to my ears at least, sharpened his rhetoric in two ways: (1) to link Kerry Healey with Mitt Romney at every possible opportunity (my quick perusal of old Patrick press releases showed an almost exclusive focus on Romney and hardly any mention of Healey, except in discussing her husband’s company’s sleazy tax break); and (2) to be more aggressive in playing up the differences between himself and Tom Reilly (moments ago I wondered aloud whether this might happen). From the press release just received at BMG central (emphasis added by me):
* * *
We all know that in so many ways the leadership from the Romney-Healey Administration is bad. But we can’t just replace bad leadership with ordinary leadership. I want to offer creative leadership and vision. And with leadership experience not just in government, but in business, community work, and not-for-profits, I believe I have unique skills to offer at a unique moment in our history.
This is good strategy, IMHO. I respect the impulse to run positive campaigns, and to use only aspirational language, and all that. But the Dems tried that at the 2004 convention, and it was a total, utter, unmitigated catastrophe. You’ve got to explain to voters why you’re different from – and, frankly, better than – the other guy.
Everyone wants more and better jobs, a clean environment, good schools, more health care, etc. To win an election, you have to convince the voters that you’re the best candidate in the field to deliver those goals – and not just because you want them the most, but because you are the most likely to achieve them. I don’t mean mudslinging and stupid negative campaigning. I mean serious, issue-focused, substantive, vigorous debate between the candidates.
Today’s news about Romney is excellent not only because it removes him from the electoral calculus. It’s excellent because it brings the 2006 election into much sharper focus, which means both the public and the candidates will be thinking harder about it than they were before. Patrick’s press release today concludes by saying “I am looking forward to the race.” So am I.