Mitt Romney's adviser, Eric Fehnrstrom, tells McKay Coppins that, despite his candidate's weekend foray into the culture wars, it's still all about the economy in Romneyland.
In the past 72 hours, Romney has endorsed the controversial conservative Iowa Congressman Steve King, appeared onstage with televangelist Pat Robertson, debuted a revamped stump speech with warnings of encroaching secularism at its center, and devoted substantial time to a hot dog-heavy photo-op at a NASCAR race.
The weekend also featured several statements from the Obama campaign accusing Romney of joining the ranks of the GOP's socially "extreme" foot soldiers — a narrative senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom strongly rejected.
"President Obama is desperate to run a 'change the subject' campaign," Fehrnstrom told BuzzFeed.
"The subject has been the economy, is the economy, and will be the economy. Mitt Romney doesn't want to change the subject, he wants to change the economy and that's what he's going to do as president."
1. Romney's weekend seemed more like base-jazzing than anything else. This wasn't indicative of a campaign shift; it was just an example of knowing your audience -- something Democrats are quite good at, as well.
After all, the Democratic convention featured was one giant indulgence of culture war issues aimed at jazzing the base during hours when activists were watching, and only briefly shifting focus during primetime hours.
If Romney had appeared with Pat Robertson in an affluent suburb like Bucks County, Pennsylvania, well, then you might have a sign of a substantial shift.
2. Romney's campaign is, in fact, struggling right now, but the weekend was just smart politics. This will be a base election year, and you need to energize the workhorses who'll show up to phone bank for free on weekends.
So I wouldn't take this as a sign that Romney's abandoning his message. He's just tailoring it where smart politics suggests tailoring.