Slate’s ultra-liberal John Dickerson thinks so:
If the president makes many more gaffes, Romney will never need to take any risks of his own.
On June 8, 2012, President Obama declared “The private sector is doing just fine”—and the Chaos Muppets were released. Every Republican official and piece of the GOP firmament issued a press release saying this proved the president was out of touch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked if the president was living on another planet, Speaker John Boehner and Eric Cantor held a special press conference, Chris Christie was undone, and of course Mitt Romney had a say. GOP Archers for Less Regulation may have even sent out a Tweet.
The political fallout was predictable in a campaign where each side rolls out emergency fainting couches and commits synchronized jaw-dropping at the latest perceived outrage. Barack Obama is never allowed to say the economy is “doing just fine,” just as sure as Mitt Romney is never allowed to say he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” Democrats clobbered Romney for his remark back in February. Now it was time for Republicans to make the president suffer. Some were even paying Obama back for his attacks on John McCain in the last campaign for a similar remark about the economy’s fundamentals. (The RNC video making use of Obama’s remark is almost identical to the 2008 Obama ad about McCain.).
Will this election be a choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or a referendum on Barack Obama’s handing of the economy? President Obama would like it to be a choice, but he is stuck with the reality that it’s likely to be a referendum.