Andrew Romano

Stories by Andrew Romano

  • Obama's Logo Is Feeling Groovy

    During our conservation yesterday about the intricacies of Barack Obama's unprecedented branding effort,...
  • William F. Buckley, R.I.P.

    Say what you will about the divisive politics of the 1960s or the democratization of discourse in our Internet age, but this much is clear: when it comes to "pundits," they don't make 'em like they used to. Of course, Buckley, who was found dead yesterday at the age of 82 in the study of his Stamford, Conn. home, was slightly more than a pugilistic showman (or, for that matter, a pundit). For more, read Timothy Noah's nuanced take on the intellectual father of modern conservatism here; National Review, the journal he founded in 1955, has the view from the right.
  • Decoding the Debates

    Sick of hearing Chris Matthews bark about who won and who lost the Democratic debates? So are we. That's why NEWSWEEK's Katie Paul called up Allan Louden, a professor at Wake Forest, the head of the National Debate Tournament and the principle academic partner at Debatescoop.com. They got past political theater and faddish punditry to talk about how Clinton and Obama are actually performing as debaters--and how that's influencing the election. Excerpts:PAUL: What debate strategies was each candidate employing last night that maybe the average onlooker wouldn't catch?LOUDEN: You can see Obama’s legal training at work in the debates. Arguably, she has the same legal training, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. She’s probably more removed, since she was a lawyer longer ago. The common wisdom is that you never give ground in politics because it will come back to haunt you. You always deny or oppose something because giving ground is a sign of weakness. She tends to...
  • The Filter: 2.28.08

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.BLOOMBERG SAYS HE WON'T RUN BUT WILL BE ACTIVE(Diane Cardwell, New York Times)Bringing an end to a long flirtation with a bid for the White House, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has officially closed the door on a presidential candidacy this year. In an Op-Ed article published in Thursday’s New York Times, Mr....
  • 'Brand Obama,' in the Beginning

    Reader Phil James, a Barack Obama supporter, writes from Des Moines (wait, Iowa still exists?) with an anecdote that shows Obama's aggressive branding strategy in action: I knew there was something special to this campaign back in November prior to the Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Des Moines.  My wife and I were in the parade that followed the Obamas up to the front door of Vets Auditorium.  Before the parade began, we pushed to the front of the crowd with our twin baby boys on our shoulders.  Someone from the side of the crowd handed us two handmade signs to carry in the parade, and we were all set to march with these signs until a campaign staffer grabbed it from us and gave us a campaign issued sign instead.  This was complete message control at its finest. Point is, the Obama team has been on top of its branding from the start. Despite what some of the commenters have said, the seamlessness of the candidate's "corporate identity" does not automatically...
  • No Country for Old Friends

    Here's NEWSWEEK's Sarah Elkins with a dispatch from the Clinton caravan in Texas. DALLAS, Texas--Lloyd and Drenda Clemons have a knack for getting around Bill Clinton's...
  • Expertinent: Why the Obama "Brand" Is Working

    Let's be honest. Barack Obama is not on the verge of clinching the Democratic nomination because of his policy positions--whatever his most evangelical supporters might tell you. If policy was all that mattered this year, Hillary Clinton would've won five or six of the last 11 contests instead of losing them all. When it comes to specifics, there's simply not that much space between the candidates. Obama's success owes a lot, of course, to his message--the promise to pass Democratic policies by rallying a "coalition for change." But watching Obamamania over the past few weeks, I've become convinced that there's something more subtle at work, too. It's not just the message and the man and the speeches that are swaying Democratic voters--though they are. It's the way the campaign has folded the man and the message and the speeches into a systemic branding effort. Reinforced with a coherent, comprehensive program of fonts, logos, s...
  • Clinton Camp: Hillary's 'Going to the Convention'

    Here's NEWSWEEK's Suzanne Smalley with a dispatch from the spin room. CLEVELAND, Ohio—So much for feeling honored to share the stage with Barack Obama (as Hillary Clinton said almost sweetly at the University of Texas debate last Tuesday, a comment which many people saw as a valedictory signaling the end of her campaign). Last night, Hillary Clinton 5.0 was on stage at Cleveland State University, taking on Obama and NBC News moderators with equal venom. There were audible gasps in the campus's large ballroom, a.k.a. "press file center", when, seemingly out of nowhere, a furious Clinton snapped after NBC anchor Brian Williams cut off a 16-minute policy debate on health care by asking her about her positions on NAFTA. Clinton, who may have been frustrated that she couldn't land a decisive blow on health care—her pet issue and one on which her campaign believes she clearly bests Obama—complained that she always gets questioned first. That may be true, but...
  • The Filter: 2.27.08

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.COMBAT IN CLEVELAND: A Complicated Challenge on One Side; a Single Task on the Other (Nagourney, New York Times)In Crucial State, a Contentious Debate (Washington Post)Hillary Clinton Plays Victim Card (Simon, Politico)20th Debate: Reality Show or Spinoff? (Stanley, New York Times)Obama Tells Clinton: 'I Don't Whine' (Politico)No Pain, No Gain (Corn, Mother Jones)The Clang-Fest in Cleveland (Scheiber, New Republic) TEXAS TWO-STEP VOTE COULD TRIP UP CLINTON(June Kronholz, Wall Street Journal)How is this for irony: Sen. Hillary Clinton, the ultimate Democratic...
  • McCain's '100 Year' Conundrum

    Sure, the Straight Talk Express ain't what it used to be. But John McCain is still startlingly candid on occasion. Take today, for example. At an event in Rock River, Ohio, the Arizona senator told the crowd that to win the White House he must convince a war-weary country that U.S. policy in Iraq is succeeding--and if he can't, "then I lose. I lose." "I don't think there's any doubt that how [voters] judge Iraq will have a direct relation to their judgment of me," he added. McCain, of course, is right: his fate is tied to Mesopotamia. (If the president thing doesn't work out, Mac, perhaps you should consider a slot with the McLaughlin Group.) But it's not only--or even mostly--what happens on the ground in Baghdad that matters. In truth, McCain's White House chances may have more do with another candid admission, and how strongly it influences voters' judgment--not of Iraq, but of the candidate himself: "Make it 10...
  • Fear Not, Hillary. Stumper Readers to the Rescue!

    Last Friday, I told the good readers of Stumper to imagine they were political consultants newly drafted by Hillary Clinton to pilot her comeback. "The advice came fast and furious (rest assured, it's no different at Clinton HQ in Arlington). Over the weekend, I sifted through more than four dozen smart, substantive suggestions, and here's the most interesting stuff I found:1) Be a Mother: This was by far the most common response, and I agree that Clinton would be well served by "being herself" as much as possible. Neither I--nor the commenters--think this means something as simple as "showing her softer side." Instead, Clinton should strive to recapture the tone and style she displayed to great effect at the end of last Thursday's debate in Austin: supportive and compassionate, yet steely. The commenters called it maternal, and I think they're right. "The problem with Ms. Clinton's Campaign was that as soon as she found her...
  • How Stumper Would Save the Clinton Campaign

    Easy. Replace Bill Clinton with Tina Fey.(I'll post the best of your campaign strategies in just a few.)  Damn you, NBC-Universal. Or should I say "Sheinhardt Wig Company." No more Fey on the YouTube, so try this link for your fix. 
  • The Filter: 2.25.08

    A round-up of this morning's must-read stories.THE NEWSWEEK ROSTERWITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE...(Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff)McCain's denial that he had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist was firm, but it invited a game of catch me if you can.HILLARY SHOULD GET OUT NOW(Jonathan Alter)Clinton has only one shot—for Obama to trip up so badly that he disqualifies himself.HAND-TIED BY THE TIMES(Howard Fineman)In running for president, John McCain loses his voice.HOW THEY HAVE LOST(Jonathan Darman)In defeat, the Clintons are remarkably adept at picking up the pieces.OBAMA: GOOD FOR THE JEWS?(Michael Hirsh and Dan Ephron)Hillary Clinton's surrogates are questioning Obama's commitment to U.S.-Israel relations. THE BEST OF THE REST: SOMBER CLINTON SOLDIERS ON AS HORIZON DARKENS(Patrick Healy, New York Times)To her longtime friends, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton...
  • The Stumper Superdelegate Watch, Part I of ???

    From the AP: The Democratic superdelegates are starting to follow the voters — straight to Barack Obama. In just the past two weeks, more than two dozen of them have climbed...
  • Strong Signs in the Lone Star State for Obama

    If Hillary Clinton wants to kickstart a comeback, she needs to win Texas on March 4. But don't take it from me. Just ask her most devoted surrogate--some guy named Bill Clinton. "If she wins Texas and Ohio, I think she will be the nominee," the former prez told a crowd in Beaumont on Wednesday. "If you...
  • The Return of Ralph

     In presidential politics, John McCain is (or was, as recently as last November) what one would call an "underdog." Mike Huckabee might fairly be labeled a "long shot." Ron Paul? A beloved, well-funded impossibility. And then there's Ralph Nader. If you haven't checked up on the anti-corporate crusader since, say, 2004, you might be surprised to learn that, on Jan. 30, he went to the trouble of launching a presidential exploratory committee. That's right--"presidential." As in, the United States of America. And now, according to an email sent this morning to supporters (hat tip to Ben Smith) it's looking like Nader has convinced himself that the third time's the charm. As you know, we've been exploring the possibilities in recent weeks. And here's one question that keeps coming up: What's been pulled off the table by the corporatized political machines in this momentous election year? Answer: Cutting the huge,...
  • Pop Quiz, Hotshot: How Would You Save the Clinton Campaign?

    In last night's pre-debate huffing and puffing, every pundit agreed: Hillary Clinton needs to change the course of the Democratic contest. But no one knew how, exactly. By evening's end, it was clear that Clinton herself was divided, veering from comity to canned critiques to compassion--and doing nothing to knock Obama off his stride.What would you do differently? Imagine. You’re a political consultant, drafted this week by Clinton’s campaign to help pilot her comeback. Your candidate has lost the last 11 primaries by sizable margins. And the demographic groups who once flocked to your side—women, voters with incomes below $50,000, Latinos—have begun straying into your rival’s camp. The veterans in your candidates inner circle are at odds—some feel salvation lies in going negative, while others fear that a scorched-earth strategy would divide the party and do lasting damage to her legacy. So, newcomer, what’s the game plan? How should Clinton spend the next two weeks, in...
  • The Filter: 2.22.08

    A round-up of this morning's must read stories. DEBATE TAKES ON CONTENTIOUS AIR(Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny, New York Times)Mr. Obama, buoyed by 11 straight victories in the most recent...
  • Stumper Liveblogs the Democratic Debate! Now!

    The headline pretty much says it all. When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face off tonight in Austin, I'll be here at Newsweek.com covering every little glare, gaffe and gotcha moment in breathless, blinkless liveblog fashion. The best part? You can join in.  Thanks to good folks at CoveritLive, you can send me your comments, reactions and analysis as the action unfolds--and I'll incorporate the smartest, funniest stuff into my coverage. Got a question? I'll try to answer it. Want to play pundit? Be my guest. Go here to chime in now.Thanks for reading,Andrew