Has President Obama turned Mitt Romney into John Kerry?

A wealthy, aloof Massachusetts millionaire faces off against a strong-on-national-security incumbent... Is this 2004 all over again?

Mitt Romney and John Kerry are both rich Massachusetts politicians with reputations for flip-flopping. But can Romney win the White House and succeed where Kerry failed?
(Image credit: David Calvert/Getty Images, Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The parallels between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the Democrats' 2004 standard-bearer, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), are pretty striking: Both men are multimillionaires who call Massachusetts home, have reputations as flip-floppers, vacation at inopportune times, and are widely perceived as stiff, not terribly personable, and a little out of touch. Here's another similarity: Both men faced incumbents with strong poll numbers on national security, an advantage that both George W. Bush and President Obama have pressed. Plus, by trying to define Romney by attacking his perceived strengths, Obama is borrowing pretty liberally from the Bush 2004 playbook. Is Obama trying to turn Romney into Kerry?

Romney's "Kerry-ization" is on: Not only is Romney "getting the full John Kerry treatment on national security," say Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at Politico, but some top Republicans are worried that Mitt's "ham-handed response to it" will cost him the election. Ironically, the attack on Romney as "wobbly and therefore untrustworthy on national security" was launched by Kerry himself at the Democratic convention last week. That's a little rich coming from "Democrats who accused Republicans of playing politics with war in past elections." But fair or not, as the GOP knows, looking weak on security "is a terrible place to be politically."

"The Kerry-ization of Mitt Romney"

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But unlike Bush, Obama isn't distorting his foe's record: Sure, it's like 2004 in that "the incumbent president has an advantage on 'national security' issues and the challenger is perceived as rich and out of touch," says Alex Pareene at Salon. But Bush's sliming of a decorated war hero "as feckless and unfit for command was based entirely on falsehoods," while Obama's mild critique that Romney's entire "foreign policy" amounts to "stop apologizing for America" and "let's start the Cold War again" happens to be "100 percent accurate." That's not "Kerry-izing."

"Oh no, the Democrats are 'Kerry-izing' Romney"

This is like 2004 — but not because of foreign policy: I "don't quite buy the comparison" between Obama-Romney and Bush-Kerry on national security, says Jon Fasman at The Economist. Despite his "clay feet on the subject," Romney has never "claimed national security as a core competency"; Kerry did. But the 2012 race does have a whiff of 2004 in that a "relatively unpopular and vulnerable incumbent" might well win because the base of the opposing party is "gripped by a visceral disdain for the president that voters at large simply did not share," and they "nominated a dreadful candidate" to beat him.

"Restricting the franchise"

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