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Amazingly, Before He Died Ted Kennedy Tutored Democrats on How to Beat Romney

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 05:05 pm

According to Paul Begala, before he passed away in 2008, Ted Kennedy gave him a tutorial on how to defeat Mitt Romney. Obama and the Dems followed Kennedy’s advice, and won.

On the second page of a story for Newsweek, Paul Begala wrote about a tutorial Ted Kennedy gave him on how to beat Romney before he died,

Our goal was to take Romney’s greatest strength—his business record—and make it a weakness. We were given a road map by none other than the late, great Ted Kennedy. As the 2008 election was approaching, I paid the senator a visit. I thought Romney might be the GOP nominee, and Kennedy gave me a tutorial on how to beat him. Don’t underestimate Romney, Kennedy said. He’s smart and resourceful and will say anything, take any position. Kennedy recounted how his campaign team tracked down employees of companies that had been shut down after being bought by Bain Capital. Shamelessly copying Kennedy’s plan, we interviewed dozens of laid-off ­middle-class working people. Their stories were emblematic of the collapse of the middle class: factories closed, health benefits canceled, lives ruined.

My old friend, former Georgia governor and senator Zell Miller, taught me that “a hit dog barks,” but Romney remained silent. I am still amazed that Romney did not respond. He allowed our little, underfunded super PAC to define him as Gordon Gekko. Without his business record, Romney was left with nothing but his charm.

Begala used Kennedy’s tutorial in his work with the woefully underfunded Priorities USA super PAC, and their results this little group got may have cost Romney the election.

Priorities USA hit Romney all summer long with devastating ads that followed the Kennedy map of featuring workers who lost their jobs because Romney’s Bain took over their company.

An ad titled Heads or Tails typified this strategy:

Priorities USA also hit Romney on Bain, his tax returns and his plans for the middle class:

Heads or Tails was released in May when Mitt Romney had no money to reply. Mitt Romney was helpless, and Democrats defined him as a heartless job killer in swing state after swing state.

The impact was devastating on the Republican nominee. All summer long Priorities USA and the Obama campaign each followed Kennedy’s advice. By the time Romney got his act together, it was too late to push back effectively. Romney lost swing state after swing state in the summer before the election, and these ads were a main reason why.

Nearly four years after he passed away, Ted Kennedy helped engineer one last Democratic victory. Kennedy originated the road map for beating Romney in 1994, and much to the shock and dismay of Republicans the exact same strategy worked again in 2012.

Ted Kennedy passed on years before this election, but political genius lived on and played a critical role in reelecting Barack Obama in 2012.

Jason Easley

Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements. Awards and  Professional Memberships Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association

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