BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller and McKay Coppins note that with less than two months left, Mitt Romney is struggling to decide whether Barack Obama is the warden from Shawshank Redepmtion or simply Barney Fife.
Over the past few months, Romney has bounced back and forth haphazardly between the two characterizations of the president, depending on Boston's strategy of the moment — it's been constantly in flux lately — and the room the candidate is speaking to.
Now, with their pick of two unflattering statement by the president — a 14-year-old clip of Obama revealing he supports "redistribution" of wealth, or his recent concession that he can't "change Washington" from inside — Boston has a clearer choice than ever. Each of those Obama "gaffes" is tied to a strategy for the Romney campaign.
Which will they pursue?
I think Romney can thread the needle and run with something like respectful disappointment over Obama's redistributive ideology.
This tact paints Obama as an inept ideologue whose intentions are different from yours -- not out of spite, but out of political perspective. Remember, according to at least one poll, more Americans think Obama's views are extreme than Romnney's, and that's one of the reasons the redistributive angle could work. It reinforces perceptions, which is an easier thing to do than creating new perceptions.
And remember how effective this Americans For Prosperity spot was in focus groups? It stressed disappointment with results.