The following is from the new ebook by Politico's Glenn Thrush, as flagged by his colleague Mike Allen over the weekend:
“One factor made the 2012 grind bearable and at times even fun for Obama: he began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor’s GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the main. That scorn stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn’t feel motivated to crush the opposition. Obama, a person close to him told me, didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most. At least Cantor stood for something, he’d say.
“When he talked about Romney, aides picked up a level of anger he never had for Clinton or McCain, even after Sarah Palin was picked as his running mate. ‘There was a baseline of respect for John McCain. The president always thought he was an honorable man and a war hero,’ said a longtime Obama adviser. ‘That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no goddamned war hero.’”
Interesting. Remember the narrative that has held that it was going to be tough for Obama this year because liberals just couldn't work up an intense enough dislike of Romney? "Oh, we know he's just pandering, he's not really that right wing." "He seems like he's probably not that bad." Etc.
Well, Thrush suggests that this was true even of Obama! But then, a little exposure to the guy, et voila. And Thrush makes the important point that this has happened with a lot of people, including in his own party, how the people he ran against developed "a genuine disdian" for him.
I think this is really going to be costly to him. As I've written, I already think it's costing him in terms of the veep search. Mike Huckabee would have been his best choice hands down. He'd energize the base, the media like him, and, despite his extreme views, just doesn't come off as scary or loony (if he were in the running for the veepstakes, he wouldn't be out there defending Chick-Fil-A; that's something a media personality who needs ratings does).
But Huckabee is an impossibility because he and Romney don't like each other. If you look at why, it's just petty little nonsense, stupid cracks Huckabee has made. But a real leader and, dare I say, a man who was secure in himself would've called Huckabee eight months ago and said look, I'm likely to be the nominee, and I may need you, let's patch this up. Kennedy-Johnson. Reagan-Bush Sr. Obama-H. Clinton (not as running mate, but it took the same sense of self-security to make her his top diplomat).
It's good to dislike the person you're running against, but someone in Chicago needs to be able to say to Potus that he is at his least appealing when it's obvious that he disdains someone. "You're likeable enough, Hillary." It'd take some doing to get average Americans to feel sorry for Romney, but it's not impossible.