Romney Campaign 'Bracketing' Aims To 'Step On President's Message'

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) – Hearing the term "bracketing" tossed about these days? Sounds like something you do when you're picking a college basketball winner in March. But this has more to do with Mitt Romney's strategy for November.

Take what's happening this week. President Obama has a campaign trip to Ohio. So what does the Romney campaign do? They set up a bunch of interviews for Romney with Ohio radio stations in the hours before the president's speech. Then Romney goes to Ohio the next day to give the response to Obama.

Team Romney sees this as "bracketing" the president, challenging Obama both before and after his speech with the GOP contender's own messaging.

"We're stepping on the president's message," a Romney campaign official put it bluntly.

As Philip Rucker with the Washington Post reports, Team Romney hopes its "bracketing" strategy will "force the president on the defensive."

The Romney campaign cooked up another way to steal some of Obama's Ohio thunder, announcing on Tuesday a big, splashy speech to vie for some of the media attention the president is due to receive in the crucial battleground state.

Romney's speech in the swing state of North Carolina is being billed as a "prebuttal" to the president's address to the Democratic convention in Charlotte. The site of Romney's event? On a roof with a view of Charlotte's football stadium where Obama gives his speech later this summer.

"We're going to be waging a very vigorous campaign to highlight the clear and sharp contrast between Gov. Romney's understanding of the economy, his pro-jobs policy and this president's three failed years in office," said spokesman Ryan Williams on a campaign conference call. "We're going to pose the question to voters 'are you better off now than when Obama took office,' and for the vast majority of Americans that's not the case."

In the hours before Romney's event in Charlotte, his campaign released a web video highlighting then-Sen. Obama's speech at the 2008 convention in Denver where he said his measure of success would be the number of jobs he would create as president. The video notes North Carolina's high unemployment rate of nearly 10%.

It's just one more move to "step" on the president's message – sort of a bracket within the bracket.

"President Obama is a big target when it comes to his record," Romney told the Laura Ingraham radio show. Look for Team Romney to try to capture that target with "bracketing" all year long.

The Obama campaign hardly sounds impressed by the Romney "bracketing" strategy.

"As Mitt Romney heads to Charlotte to 'prebut' the President's convention speech–over 4 months in advance–the American people are right to collectively yawn over what promises to be another address heavy on hype and light on anything of substance," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in an email to reporters.

– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

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