Here comes the “October Surprise.” The event that alters presidential elections.
Forget Greece leaving the Euro. That won’t happen until after the elections. Forget bombing Iran. That will be on hold. Same with Turkey or NATO invading Syria. All put in stall mode.
Each of these possibilities would cause too many unintended consequences—mostly negative. Thus, to be avoided at all costs.
However, after President Barack Obama’s poor debate performance against Governor Romney, even Democratic stalwarts admit it is time for some kind of game-changing event.
The momentum is with Romney. The trajectory is with Romney. And Americans love a come-from-behind race.
What to do?
First up, excuses. Call Romney a “liar,” “a serial liar,” etc. That failed. Most Americans believe all politicians are “liars.” Some just more artful than others.
The first $100 million in anti-Romney ads got wiped out with that one debate performance. Romney did not appear to be all those “bad-ad” things. He wasn’t a two-dimensional cutout that caused women and children to weep and “banksters” to cheer.
Instead, he came across as witty, humane, well-prepared and yes, very presidential. And the polls reflect it. Huge gains in swing states. Massive numbers in the “who won” polls immediately after. A CNN poll showed a whopping 67 percent to 25 percent Romney win.
A CBS instant poll gave Romney a 2 to 1 win over Obama among uncommitted voters.
Even more stunning, California watchers thought Romney bested Obama by a 48 percent to 34 percent margin, according to CBSlocal.com.
Even San Francisco voters gave Romney the edge!
The only thing superior to Romney’s actual performance was the brilliance of the timing. The debate debacle for Obama came before a three-day weekend (meaning the storyline of a deflated president will linger in the air for several news cycles).
The massive 60 million-plus audience won’t view an Obama-Romney rematch until Oct. 16. And voting has already started in many states with absentee and mail-in ballots. Thus, the damage could not have been inflicted at a more effective inflection point. Put simply, the knockout came in the 14th round of a heavyweight championship bout. Climbing off the canvas becomes far more difficult.
Next up, is the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Pinning the president’s hopes on a Joe Biden left hook is what counts as strategy this week. Again, barring a major misstep by the careful, but sometimes too energetic Ryan, this will not be the October surprise.
The real October surprise depends on Hillary Clinton or Ann Romney.
Stay with me here. Women will decide this election. Perhaps they already have. Perhaps not. In 2008, 10 million more women voted than men. The gender gap is wide, according to the National Journal.
Obama’s single greatest advantage, in raw numbers, has been women.
Then came Ann Romney. The Republican campaign’s secret weapon. She took on the Republicans in Michigan telling them to “wake up”—and salvaged her husband’s sagging primary campaign. She has taken massive, public blows, such as Hilary Rosen’s dig, “She’s never worked a day in her life,” and always responded with humor and class. And, she has talked movingly, in countless appearances, on topics dear to women: family, breast cancer, children, grandchildren, etc., without a hint of self-pity. And hammered home the “jobs, jobs, jobs” theme for all of those women who are facing their own income losses.
In short, Ann Romney has put a positive, feminine face on the GOP and done so with the grace and courage of an Acapulco cliff diver. She, more than anyone, has worked to close that gender gap by defending all women (stay-at-home moms, working women, caregivers sandwiched between generations in need, the elderly, sick, etc.), and by sharing her own debilitating, near-death experience with multiple sclerosis.
On Wednesday, Ann Romney will again get to display all those character strengths—in front of a huge television audience, when she co-hosts Good Morning America—a coup for ABC’s morning show.
Talk about timing. If the momentum from the presidential debate, the newfound enthusiasm among the base, a lackluster performance by Biden on Thursday, and the temperate good-humor and grace of Ann Romney keep the momentum going, there may need to be a 3 a.m. phone call to Hillary Clinton.
Don’t laugh. Who is the most admired woman in the U.S.? Hillary Clinton.
Who has been the Democratic party’s workhorse for decades? Hillary Clinton.
Who stood by her man and ensured his re-election in the midst of impeachment proceedings and the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Hillary Clinton.
Who, as Secretary of State has logged more miles, negotiated with more heads of state and delivered the most “loyal of loyals” performances? Hillary Clinton.
Who won the most Democratic votes in the 2008 Democratic primaries? Hillary Clinton.
And who, currently leads the president by almost 20 points in favorability ratings? Hillary Clinton.
Add to this, the millions of women still fuming over that pretzel palace Democratic primary vote result, (who would volunteer en masse, donate more money, plus re-energize the Democratic base), and you understand why Obama now, more than ever, needs Hillary Clinton on the ticket. Talk about changing the news cycle.
"How?," you may ask.
Think fast. If Biden tanks, the swing states move toward Romney; and the election looks to be a loss, Obama has two choices. More negative ads. (Hasn’t worked.) A stellar debate in round two and three. (May be too late.) Or a telephone-tree call to all the delegates from the Democratic convention to approve the switch to Hillary from Joe.
Reason: Biden’s health takes a turn.
Don’t think others aren’t thinking this. If Biden bombs, and Obama slumps (internal polls will show this way before the press gets it), the 3 a.m. call may come. No matter that the ballots have been printed. With a few shenanigans, the party can switch its VP.
Ultimately, the Electoral College is what matters. And those individuals will decide who is president and who is vice-president.
Look to the coming performances of Hillary Clinton and Ann Romney for the October surprise. They are both forces of nature this October. And both winners.
Lady Macbeth never had so good a part to play.