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October 8th, 2012
03:32 PM ET

Letters to the President #1358: 'Surprise tactics?'

Reporter's Note: Each day I write a letter to President Obama. I have done this ever since he was inaugurated, and yet he does not seem troubled by it. That’s kind of odd, I think...

Dear Mr. President,

I was surprised to read that some of your campaign folks are implying that you were surprised when Mitt Romney tacked hard to the political middle during your debate last week. The suggestion seems to be that this is what resulted in your less than blazing performance; you were thrown off by him not standing more squarely on the right.

First: If that is the case, here is a hint. Any good general can tell you that the enemy rarely just stands in front of your cannons waiting for you to fire.

Second: Really? If it is true that you were surprised by Mr. Romney’s positioning, then I am I surprised as well.

Everyone one knows that this race is coming down to a fight for the middle. Sure, you and your opponent both need your bases to turn out in force, but without the middle, victory is probably impossible. So of course he is furiously driving stakes into the middle ground. And you can bet he will continue to do so, because after all, you are doing the same thing.

I’m not sure a room full of accountants could add up how many times you’ve said “middle class” in the past month. Your concern for their welfare shows up in every speech, every ad, and every interview with campaign surrogates. But here is the thing: You don’t own that concept. Your challenger has every right to claim that constituency for his own, even though your side accuses him of rank dishonesty for doing so.

Taking a tactic that is working for the other guy is one of the oldest tricks in the book. You’ve done it yourself. Back when you were battling Hillary Clinton it was wildly clear that your team was triangulating every issue she had working her way, and appropriating it for your own campaign. So if you’d do that to a fellow Democrat, how can you be surprised if a Republican does it to you?

On another note, did you see that my Saints finally won a game last night? Huzzah! And Drew Brees breaking the old passing record was just great.

Call if you can.

Regards,
Tom

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