Some people are shaking their heads, wondering why Bob Rae would make the economy the focal point of his leadership run. What can be served by highlighting an area, where the resume is dicey to say the least? Why draw attention to your weak point?
I actually think it's a pretty shrewd strategy, because it denotes a recognition of the primary challenge for Rae's bid. Rae's economic baggage isn't going to disappear, if he were to focus on other issues, play up his strengths. That approach isn't feasible in this particular climate, the economy is center-stage, Rae can't possibly skirt around it, so far better to embrace the issue as a key theme. Bob Rae makes the economy the focal point, or the economy itself makes it the focal point, better to voluntarily engage.
I have no commentary on whether Rae's strategy will work, any rational observer should have serious doubts. However, I'll give his team credit for correctly recognizing the challenge and embracing it. In this way, at least Rae can try to argue his case in a proactive way, rather than reacting to negative perceptions. If Rae wants to win over weary Liberals, particularly in Ontario, his is wise to address his legacy, he must allay some fears, he must give clear signals that he has a plan moving forward. Charisma and eloquence, stature and character, will only take Rae so far, there's an elephant in the room, foolish to pretend it isn't there.
Bob Rae essentially has to transform himself, he must add a new chapter to pad the past negatives. What might seem odd, is really the only course for Rae, like it or not, how people see him in relationship to the economy is a bottomline consideration. The gradient is steep, but at least Rae looks like he's ready to embark with the proper footwear. There is really no choice for Bob Rae, economy, economy, with an added dose of some economy. Everyday, everywhere, it's Rae's only choice, what that says about his chances, I'll leave for another day.