The way to defeat Barack Obama is tied to South Dakota’s epic 2004 Senate race.
At least that’s the take of a Washington Post blogger. Chris Cillizza writes that Mitt Romney faces a problem this fall: People like Obama. Some people who disagree with his policies like him personally. So how does the presumed GOP candidate counter that?
Crillizza suggests looking at how John Thune defeated Tom Daschle in the most expensive, high-profile Senate race in South Dakota history:
“Thune and his campaign didn’t try to make the race about personalities. Instead of arguing that Daschle was a bad guy, Thune made the case that Daschle was a good guy with the wrong priorities for the state,” Cillizza wrote. “That, at the end of the day, everyone liked Daschle but that Daschle had lost touch with the perspective of average South Dakotans.”
If that was the reason, it worked. Thune defeated Daschle as South Dakota voters tossed aside the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, and a man who had served the state for 26 years.
Obama has a much shorter history with American voters. But Thune was a strong, talented campaigner fresh off a razor-thin loss to Tim Johnson in 2002. Voters knew and liked him. Romney hasn’t shown great style so far, fumbling and stumbling often.
Romney, whom Thune has endorsed and campaigned for, may follow the South Dakota Republican’s approach. If he does, will what worked in South Dakota be effective nationally?
And isn’t it amazing how that eight-year-old Senate race has lingered on the state and national scene?