It is what Jews refer to as "chutzpah." Unfortunately, it might work. In a race against a president whose entire administration has been characterized by an effort to promote bipartisanship and who has embraced compromise at every opportunity, Mitt Romney included in his closing statement last night
America's going to come back. And for that to happen, we're going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We've got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back. And we'll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.
Romney had the last word last night, Obama's closing statement having preceded it. But the President had opportunities earlier to counter Romney's pretensions to bipartisanship, and whiffed.
The former governor tried it last night on education:
MR. ROMNEY: The first — the first — and we kept our schools number one in the nation. They're still number one today. And the principles that we've put in place — we also gave kids not just a graduation exam that — that determined whether they were up to the skills needed to — to be able to compete, but also, if they graduated in the top quarter of their class, they got a four-year tuition-free ride at any Massachusetts public institution of higher learning.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That happened — that happened before you came into office.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Governor —
MR. ROMNEY: That was actually mine, actually, Mr. President. You got that fact wrong.
The details of the program to which Romney referred appear are more complicated than he let on and the public school system in Massachusetts excelled well before Mitt became governor. But those are mere details relevant to the argument, and this is an election campaign. Obama got caught up in details when he should have said something akin to what Massachusetts Senator, former Democratic presidential nominee, and Obama debate prepper (you got a better word for it?) John Kerry noted on this morning's Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd. "In Massachusetts," the candidate who dominated George W. Bush in the debates of 2004 said, "people know him well. He's 20-25 points behind in his home state... People who know him the best like him the least."
Democrats were so fond of their state's governor, so impressed at his ability to reach across the partisan aisle, that Romney (facing near-certain defeat) decided not to run for re-election and instead focused on running for president. Obama might have mentioned that his opponent is not even contesting his home state and, as Kerry pointed out, it has been decades (56 years, to be precise) since a sitting or former governor lost the state he served as governor.
Massachusetts is a liberal and Democratic state. But the former governor is running behind the sitting president also in all its bordering states, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Barack Obama should have told Mitt Romney that all the states which best knew Mitt Romney are the most eager to vote against him.