Election 2012: Romney Energy Policy Puts Messaging Focus Back on Economy

In every election, unexpected speed bumps appear that can throw a campaign’s game plan off course and become a distraction from the major points the candidates are trying to run on.

In the 2012 presidential election, the intended message for the Republicans has been the state of the economy. Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have made their plan to fix the budget and improve the country’s jobless rate the center of their attacks against President Obama.

So when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin created a firestorm with his "legitimate rape" comment, the discussion quickly shifted to rape, abortion and women's rights, while the economy, for a while, became an afterthought. Instead of facing questions about the economy and jobs, Romney and Ryan were left answering questions about Akin’s comments and having their record on the issue placed in the forefront.

The Romney campaign quickly distanced itself from Akin and his statements, denouncing the “legitimate rape” theory and calling for the congressman to drop out of the upcoming Senate race in November.

To calm the storm, Romney needed to come up with a plan to redirect the focus back to the economy.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, Romney began rolling out his new energy plan which has the goal of creating 3 million new jobs and achieving energy independence by the year 2020. According to the Associated Press, “the most significant aspects of Romney's plans hinge on opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including in the mid-Atlantic, where it is currently banned." Romney also wants to give states the power to produce energy on federal lands.

The timing of Romney’s announcement, in light of the recent controversy, was too perfect to have been coincidental. As a communications tactic, it did shift the focus of attention back to the economy for a while, but Akin continues to get a lot of play in the media. Any further moves by the campaign to bring the focus back to its core message will hit the same speed bump—until Akin pulls out of the race.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson