(Foto: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Mitt Romney’s campaign for president appears to have quietly abandoned its guiding assumption, that the election would center on the struggling economy, and has visibly begun to feel for a new message.
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.
“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.”
(...) Ryan himself has emerged as a central player in this calculation, making the case internally for a clearer conservative policy message. One high level Republican with ties to the campaign told BuzzFeed that Ryan was chaffing at Boston constraining him from talking about and defending his policy ideas from Democratic attacks. Ryan wanted to be "unleashed," the Republican said.
And Ryan’s latest campaign swing offers the clearest indication that he’s gotten his wish. On Friday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Ryan offered a new gambit on offense, attacking Obama on social issues and income inequality in one fell swoop.“’We’re all in this together’ – it has a nice ring,” Ryan said, quoting a frequent Obama line. “For everyone who loves this country, it is not only true but obvious,” he said. “Yet how hollow it sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born.”On Saturday at a rally at R.E. Olds Park Amphitheatre here, Ryan laid into the Federal Reserve for “undermining the credibility of our money” and “debasing our currency,” with the latest round of stimulative monetary policy.
(...) Romney aides say they plan no new major policy roll-outs before the debates. But they said they but intend to focus more on contrasts between Democratic plans and their existing policy positions.
Republicans assiduously avoided any sort of policy detail in their convention, keeping their focus directly on introducing Mitt Romney the man to America, and implicitly on the president’s economic failures. But already a press to talk specifics is apparent.
Romney devoted the weekend after the last jobs report to talking about religion in the public sphere, Ryan has brought abortion into the campaign. They have taken Obama to task for allegedly cutting more than $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. (The claim is complicated by Ryan's own support for the cuts in his budget, but that hasn't slowed a barrage of Republican attacks.) The ongoing protests in the Muslim world, and the murder of four U.S. diplomats, has led both Republicans to sharply criticize Obama’s foreign policy agenda.
And while Romney’s initial reaction may have been premature, aides insist that the lingering anti-American protests provide an opening for the GOP ticket to attack Obama and argue for a leading role for America in the world.