Romney and — particularly — his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, have spent a week road-testing alternatives, going positive and going negative, swinging at the president on everything from faith to foreign policy. The new efforts mark a shift from a summer of fruitless discipline and a convention in which attempts to present a friendly, moderate tone trumped any policy substance. And campaign planners said their moves mark a new campaign consensus.The Romney campaign presented Mitt Romney's business experience as his main calling card for the presidency. But the Obama campaign took that head on, launching a late spring offensive that has pushed Mitt Romney's experience in business off the national discussion. He barely even brings it up on the stump these days as the Obama campaign turned his central strength into a stunning weakness. Now polls are reporting that voters rank President Obama and Mitt Romney even on the economy, while giving Obama large advantages on everything else.
“No one in Boston thinks this can only be about the economy anymore,” one top aide said last week. “The economy narrows the gap and puts us in contention, but we have to bring more to the table.”
The core factor in the search for a new message, aides say privately, was the August jobs report. The anemic job growth was widely viewed as bad news for Obama even as the unemployment rate dropped due to people leaving the workforce. But the national shrug confirmed Romney campaign concerns that the most visible economic indicator would remain muddled through Election Day.
President Obama has taken away Mitt Romney’s longstanding advantage as the candidate voters say is most likely to restore the economy and create jobs, according to the latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News, which found a modest sense of optimism among Americans that White House policies are working.You can give Bill Clinton the credit for that. His masterful defense of the Obama economic program was a huge boon, as voters view President Clinton's economic credentials with trust and credibility. The Romney campaign also made the tremendous blunder of elevating President Clinton's credibility by praising him, leaving them no room to dispute anything Clinton said. A HUGE error in tactical political judgment and stunning for a modern presidential campaign.
BuzzFeed also notes that the leadership inside the campaign for righting ship is not coming from the top of the ticket, but from Paul Ryan:
The call revealed some of the Romney-Ryan ticket’s thinking. First, it plainly understands the need to go around and over the heads of the mainstream media and to buck up the base. Second, it doesn't buy the liberal spin that it’s running a referendum election; Ryan has always argued for and talked about two visions and giving the voters a clear choice.This would be an even more catastrophic blunder than selecting Mitt Romney as a presidential nominee. Ryan doesn't realize that his ideas are about as popular as ebola. But more to the point, if they are trying to buck up the Republican base in September of a presidential election, they've already lost. If they put the Ryan plan up for a national vote in November with Mitt Romney as its avatar, modern conservatism will be in for sound rejection that will be impossible to spin.
Finally, this news illuminates the sheer lack of depth inside the Romney campaign's strategic planning, tactical acumen and internal controls. I don't have any links, but I'm willing to bet that Boston is right now a cesspool of finger pointing, ass covering, backstabbing and infighting. The responsibility for which, inevitably, must land in the hands of the nominee himself. If he can't effectively run his own campaign for president, he certainly isn't qualified to be the president.
Update: Politico is reporting the Romney campaign is in disarray as predicted in this post. Hilarity:
As mishaps have piled up, Stevens has taken the brunt of the blame for an unwieldy campaign structure that, as the joke goes among frustrated Republicans, badly needs a consultant from Bain & Co. to straighten it out.