When Mitt Romney takes the stage on Wednesday he will be facing President Obama for the first debate of the 2012 presidential election. However, Obama will only be a subordinate target in the encounter. The real audience Romney will be addressing is the club of wealthy donors who have been propping up his campaign.
The real reason that this first debate has taken on such importance is that Romney needs an unambiguous victory in order to keep contributions flowing into his coffers. A loss, or even a draw, will result in donors fleeing his campaign in the crucial final weeks.
This analysis is not the product of Obama partisans seeking to stir panic within the Romney camp. It was published by conservative pundit Charlie Gasparino on the Fox Business Channel’s web site:
Romney Losing Donors to GOP House, Senate Candidates
The Romney campaign is experiencing what some officials believe could be the beginning of a mass exodus of big money donors diverting their cash away from the Republican presidential hopeful and toward Republican candidates for the House and Senate races more likely to win in November, the FOX Business Network has learned.
Romney’s political neck will be on the line Wednesday. If he fails to throw a knockout punch, folks like Sheldon Adelson and Karl Rove will abandon him. The RNC will will have to concentrate on the real prospect of losing control of the House and reducing their numbers in the Senate. And as Romney’s electoral odds decline, even other Republican candidates will seek to distance themselves from the stench of a loser.
The problem for Romney is that if he attempts to strike a more aggressive posture, as many GOP strategists are advising, he is likely to come off as mean-spirited and even less likeable than he currently is. But if he doesn’t show his teeth during the debate he will appear weak and lose anyway. It’s a built in formula for failure, and no matter how the Romney spinmeisters twirl the post-debate PR, the public will see through it.