Politico details a big shift in the Mitt Romney campaign -- one that emphasizes Romney's big picture vision and personal story instead of simply offering a credible alternative to Barack Obama with staid, "generic" talking points.
For months, Ann Romney and her eldest son, Tagg, were dutifully supportive of the political professionals running Mitt Romney’s campaign. All the while, their private frustration was mounting.
Shortly before the final debate, it finally boiled over.
What followed was a family intervention. The candidate’s family prevailed on Mitt Romney, and the campaign operation, to shake things up dramatically, according to campaign insiders. The family pushed for a new message, putting an emphasis on a softer and more moderate image for the GOP nominee — a “let Mitt be Mitt” approach they believed more accurately reflected the looser, generous and more approachable man they knew.
Chief strategist Stuart Stevens — whom the family held responsible for allowing Romney’s personal side to be obscured by an anti-Obama economic message — has seen his once wide-ranging portfolio “fenced in” to mainly the debates, and the television advertising that is his primary expertise, according to campaign officials. Tagg Romney, channeling his mother’s wishes, is taking a much more active role in how the campaign is run.
a. The move is oh-so-smart for Romney's campaign.
For months, his low favorability rating has bedeviled him and, more than anything else, kept him from the Oval Office. Not Obama's approval rating, which is perilously low for an incumbent, not Obama's vision, which is strangely limited, not any exogenous factor.
Instead of showing what he'd do as president, Romney has simply focused on what Obama has done.
But that's not enough. Bashing Obama continually has diminishing returns, and there are plenty of talk show hosts who can do that better than Romney. Applying for an AM radio gig isn't the way you become president.
b. Is it too late?
There are two more debates, hundreds of millions of ads, and a pool of undecided and "lean" voters who haven't been sold on either candidate. At some point, they'll make up their minds, and the fact they haven't tossed their vote to Obama yet means they're open to Romney's closing argument. And it looks like it's gotten that much stronger.
c. Can a zebra changes its stripes?
Throughout both the GOP primary and general election, Romney has excelled at bouncing back from a deficit but struggled in a tied race or one where he leads. He tends to, well, not-lead in those situations, and he tends to get safe, which is the riskiest "course" he can take (I use the word "course" as a nod to Romney -- it is, as junkies certainly know, his favorite word).
But this is a crucible in the campaign, a chance to be Two-Drink Mitt -- buzzed up enough to get people buzzing about him, sober enough to dismantle Obama in debates.