The Republican nominee-presumptive’s bus trip today through Tuesday through a bevy of battleground states is arguably the biggest event of the general election to date. There will be a lot of attention paid to the ostensible veepstakes auditions, but there is more to see here, under the watchful eye of one of the biggest media assemblages Romney has drawn so far.
First, can Team Romney produce visually and thematically compelling events? Bus trips lend themselves to such winning Kodak moments, but the campaign’s desire to keep spending down has kept to a minimum the number of memorable Romney events so far this cycle. Will the bus trip be different?
Second, watch the local coverage more than the national coverage. The semiotic power of a bus trip means that Romney is more likely to dominate local TV news than on a normal in-and-out state trip.
Third, my guess is that Romney will not try to drive a news-of-day message that deviates from “Obama is an economic failure.” Let’s see if he can pull that off, given the high-wire nature of bus trips and an already bored press pack.
Fourth, Ann Romney has done some events on her own lately that haven’t gotten much national coverage. When we last saw her front and center during the end of the nomination fight, she was clearly improving as a confident speaker and public validator of her husband. This is a good check-in to see just how powerful a stump performer she will be in the home stretch.
Finally, as has become pro forma, Democrats will bracket the heck out of every Romney stop along the way through the tour. Can the Republicans keep the focus in the local and national press on their candidate and his message and not let the media get all consumed with stunts, tweets, and a he said/he said carnival?