That's more than any video on Romney's own YouTube channel.
Inside Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters over the past few days, the data pouring in was unmistakable. Aides scouring the results of focus groups and national polls found that undecided voters watching the presidential debate in Denver seemed startled when the Republican candidate portrayed all year by Democrats — the ultraconservative, unfeeling capitalist — did not materialize.Based on this data, Romney's campaign indicates it plans to sell an entirely new Mitt Romney:
The voters, they discovered, consistently reserved their highest marks for moments when Mr. Romney sounded bipartisan and moderate, two themes he has long played down on the campaign trail but seemed to take pains to showcase this week with centrist-sounding statements on taxes, abortion and immigration.
Behind the new efforts by the Romney campaign to soften his conservative edges and showcase his personal story was a realization by his political team — borne out by reactions to his performance at the debate — that with the economy showing improvement their best shot at victory is to aggressively defy the negative perceptions that have dogged him throughout the race.In a vacuum, this seems like a reasonably good idea, right? To beat President Obama, Romney needs to not only energize his base, but also to expand his coalition, and to expand his coalition, he needs to shed some of the right-wing baggage that he's been carrying since he decided to run for president in the mid-2000s.
In interviews, those advisers described a strategy to capitalize on Mr. Romney’s upswing in the final stretch by highlighting his record of bipartisanship, his time as governor of Massachusetts and history of personal generosity — relying on television advertising, appearances by high-profile supporters and speeches by the candidate himself.
This is exactly the gambit that Mitt Romney pursued during his debate with President Obama and it paid off. But the reason that it paid off is that for all intents and purposes, Romney's debate performance did take place in a vacuum. Romney ended up making a good impression because President Obama treated it more like a joint press conference than a debate, giving Romney the room he needed to start reinventing himself without needing to deal with a cross-examination.
The problem Romney has—thanks to his history of taking whatever position he thinks will help him win—is that cross-examining him over his latest reincarnation attempt isn't hard to do. I can't explain why President Obama didn't choose to conduct that cross-examination last week, but all indications are that if he had a chance to do things over, he'd do things differently. Fortunately for the president, he does have that chance, both in debates and on the campaign trail.
The Obama campaign's aggressive pushback against Romney's attempt to moderate his abortion position is a good example of this. On Tuesday, Romney said he didn't have a legislative agenda on restricting abortion—a statement completely at odds with everything he's been saying on the topic throughout the campaign. The Obama campaign pounced that night on his remark—and the right began to worry that Romney was shaking his Etch A Sketch. Within two hours, the campaign issued a clarifying statement. But the Obama campaign didn't stop there: they kept up the pressure on Romney to personally address the remarks, and by the end of the day, he had been forced to walk it back entirely. Meanwhile, President Obama went on ABC News to make the case that Romney's flip-flop-flip on abortion was emblematic of Romney's pattern of hiding positions that he's been running on for the past two years.
Keep in mind, Romney's attempt to move to the middle on abortion was eerily parallel to his attempt one week earlier to moderate his position on immigration. In that case, he had made a statement that sounded like he had endorsed Obama's DREAM Act executive order. That sounded like a turn to the middle, but his campaign quietly clarified that Romney was merely saying he would honor any visas issued during Obama's presidency—but that he would cancel the executive order once taking office. In other words, Romney hadn't changed his position. He was merely saying what was already obvious: he would honor visas that had already been granted.
The difference is that this time the Obama campaign fought back, and made an issue of Romney's prevarication. If they continue to aggressively hold Romney accountable in his attempts to retransform himself, we'll end up seeing a lot more days like yesterday—and a lot fewer like last Wednesday's debate.