Election 2012

Romney Should Focus on Gridlock: Fagen

Sara Taylor Fagen |Partner at DDC Advocacy and CNBC Contributor

Nearly every politician complains about gridlock in Washington. It’s a staple in all their speeches. 

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during a campaign event with Republican Governors at Basalt Public High School on August 2, 2012 in Basalt, Colorado.
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But, why isn’t Mitt Romney focusing on it as a campaign issue? I mean really focusing on it by putting it in his advertising or better yet, aggressively challenging President Barack Obama on the issue in Wednesday night's debate?  (Read More: First Debate: Risks Are High for Romney and Obama.)

Over the past four years, Washington has done nothing to improve the economy or unleash job creation. And, the grand bargain on debt reduction failed, in part, because the president never really engaged with members of his own party. And, that’s just what congressional Democrats say! If properly framed, partisan gridlock could be the Obama campaign’s Achilles heal.

What many Republican consultants will tell you is that “working across party lines” is a loser of an issue in a primary. That may be true, but it’s a big winner in a general election.  

One little reported piece of data in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday night was the fact that 52 percent of registered voters report that they think it’s better if the SAME party controls Congress and the presidency. Only 39 percent believe it’s better if DIFFERENT parties control Congress and the White House. (Read More: Obama Leading Romney Ahead of First Debate: Poll.) 

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Typically, you’d see a large advantage for those who want split-control of government. The last time it was even close was 1996, when voters were split on the issue.

Clearly voters are fed up with the lack of action coming out of Washington. And, Mitt Romney’s focus on ending gridlock may matter as much for congressional Republicans as it does for himself. 

To win over voters and, more importantly, to get our economy moving, the next president will have to break the partisan rancor gripping Washington.

Sara Taylor Fagen is a partner at DDC Advocacy and a former Political Director for President George W. Bush. She is also a CNBC contributor.