WASHINGTON—President Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, scheduled a morning press conference at the Massachusetts State House. One of Obama’s top surrogates, Governor Deval Patrick, agreed to appear on CNN and MSNBC. And the president’s campaign committee released a documentary-style video that attempts to put Mitt Romney’s four-year term as the state’s governor in the harshest light possible.
Massachusetts, at least for today, will be ground zero for the Democrats’ presidential campaign.
Romney is scheduled to be across the country, as the Republican presidential nominee receives the endorsement of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during an appearance outside San Francisco.
The Obama campaign’s new four-minute video puts visuals to a five-page memorandum that Axelrod sent to reporters on Wednesday.
It argued that Romney never fulfilled the campaign promises he made to Massachusetts voters in 2002—and he would similarly deceive a national electorate.
The video, with dark music, shows testimonials from seven state lawmakers and mayors, all of them Democrats—although not identified as such—and some of them longtime Romney critics.
“Mitt Romney was not an effective leader in Massachusetts, and the proof is in the pudding,” says former North Adams Mayor John Barrett. He once got into a tussle with Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom, spurred by a war of words over Romney’s cuts to local aid to cities and towns.
“I had worked only under Republican governors,” says Representative Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat. “There was really not much working with Mitt Romney.”
Kaufman told The New York Times earlier this year that he had a suspicion that Romney didn’t even know his name while he served as governor. “Hello, senator,” the representative recounted Romney once saying to him.
Meanwhile, Melrose Mayor Rob Dolan says flatly in the video: “He didn’t deliver.”
The video includes a number of charts about Romney’s record, which splash across the screen between scenes of a Red Line subway train crossing the Charles River, or a Duck Boat floating by.
Images of rusted infrastructure and litter in the street gutter are interspersed with the commentary.
Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, responded Wednesday to word of Obama’s new campaign by calling it “desperate” and an attempt to divert attention from the national economy.
“If President Obama had even half the job creation record of Mitt Romney, then he would be running on it,” she said.
The Globe reported this morning that the strategy marks a shift for Obama, who has spent several weeks aggressively criticizing Romney’s experience running the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital.
It also echoes previous presidential candidates’ campaigns to lambaste foes on their home court, most notably Vice President George H.W. Bush’s use of a chartered boat to link the fetid Boston Harbor to his 1988 rival, then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.
In 2000, Al Gore went to Texas to draw attention to the problems of then-Governor George W. Bush’s home state. Four years later, Bush came to Boston to raise money and, his aides noted, he was in “walking distance” to the Beacon Hill home of Democratic nominee John Kerry.Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.