The National Governors Association is about to kick off its annual meeting, giving reporters a prime opportunity to schmooze multiple govs in a presidential election year. And the way things tend to work in our election system these days, the outcome of the race could ultimately hang by the vote count in a single state.
The meeting, in Williamsburg, Va., is hosted by the commonwealth’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is often mentioned as a contender for the number two slot on the Republican presidential ticket.
Not surprisingly, governors on both sides of the aisle had no shortage of advice for their respective presidential candidates. Republicans, predictably, want Romney to fight back harder against the Obama campaign’s charges of dishonesty on Romney’s part regarding his tenure at Bain Capital. (Yesterday, I speculated as to why Romney wants people to believe he wasn’t running the show in November 1999 — when Bain invested in a medical waste firm that disposes of aborted fetuses.)
In today’s story on advice from GOP govs, Politico features an interview of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, fresh from his recall victory, who uses the opportunity to take a victory lap. From the article by Jonathan Martin and James Hohmann:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who last month fought back a recall effort, said the GOP nominee could take a lesson from that contest, one in which Democrats similarly launched a relentless series of attacks. Walker urged Romney to respond to Obama’s assault like he did against Democrat Tom Barrett, first portraying the president as desperate, then quickly laying out what his plans are on the economy and spending.
“It’s not something you just chat about amongst reporters on background, I think he needs to personally say it, I think it needs to be in ads,” said Walker, adding that Romney had been solid in his discussion of jobs but “should do a little bit more of that with the budget.”
The Badger State governor, a star now in conservative circles following his second victory in less than two years, recalled a successful event Romney recently held at a Wisconsin small business and said the candidate should dispense with the speeches and be more accessible.
“My advice to the campaign is he should do that all that time,” Walker said. “He should be out on that bus tour. He was comfortable. He was at ease. The small business people ate him up. They loved him. He didn’t just talk to them, photo op and move on, he incorporated that in his comments on the stump later. I’d get rid of that podium. I’d give him a mic and have him walk right out with people because I think he gets a bum rap from people in terms of his perception. I found him to be very comfortable with people and engaged. I’d put him on a bus, and I’d send him all over.”
Of course, Romney already has, in his camp, two guys who could claim credit for Walker’s triumph over the recall effort in Wisconsin: Tim Phillips, president of David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, which concocted much of the messaging used by Walker, and Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, which ran a voter-turnout operation that Reed claims put Walker over the top. (Reed also stands to profit from that effort: his non-profit Faith and Freedom Coalition contracted with his for-profit consulting firm, Century Strategies, to provide high-tech voter turnout services. Phillips co-founded Century Strategies with Reed.)
Meanwhile, Democratic governors interviewed by Politico‘s Edward-Isaac Dovere expressed concern that President Barack Obama isn’t talking enough about the stimulus package he signed, and the many advantages it conferred upon suffering states. Here‘s Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin:
“A lot of the innovation that we’re seeing in Vermont is the result of the stimulus package,” Shumlin said. “People recognize that we were down in the dumps, we were on our bellies, our economy was shrinking, and those public investments in infrastructure — roads, bridges and telecommunications and rail — have helped to save the little state of Vermont from a really desperate economic situation. There’s just no doubt about that.”
The Politico piece goes on to say it’s not just the blue states whose citizens recognize the benefits of the stimulus:
That feeling extends beyond the unassailable blue territory in the Green Mountains, [Kentucky Gov. Steve] Beshear said. The voters he talks to in Kentucky know and respect the stimulus, too.
“Most of the states, including Kentucky, would not be where they are today if we hadn’t received a lot of that money,” Beshear said.