Romney campaign re-tools message for final stretch
September 17th, 2012
10:14 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney campaign re-tools message for final stretch

Washington (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is launching a new effort this week to inject energy and fresh policy details into a campaign that Republicans have criticized as listless and light on substance.

Romney will deliver a series of high profile speeches in the coming weeks, including one at the Clinton Global Initiative next week in New York City, to flesh out more specifics on what, exactly, Romney would do differently from President Obama if he captures the White House in November.

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His first such speech will be Monday afternoon at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. The campaign said he plans to speak in greater detail about what sort of immigration plan he would implement as president.

The Romney campaign is also launching a new series of television ads Monday addressing Romney's "Plan For A Stronger Middle Class" that mark a departure from the gauzy but light-on-specifics ads the campaign ran in swing states after the GOP convention.

One ad, "The Romney Plan," shows Romney speaking in broad strokes about trade policy, a balanced budget and taxes.

A Romney campaign official acknowledged to CNN that Romney has not done enough to give voters a sense of what he would do if elected.

"Polling shows that voters recognize that Gov. Romney has a plan, but they want more details," said the official, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal campaign strategy. "Voters feel like they want to know more. It's not only true of Gov. Romney but also President Obama."

Romney has two major speeches being drafted for next week: One, at the Clinton Global Initiative, will illuminate fresh elements of Romney's foreign policy vision. Another, at NBC's "Education Nation" summit, will, naturally, focus on education policy.

Romney's running mate Paul Ryan will also take a more aggressive posture on the campaign trail, a source said. Ryan spent the latter part of last week sharply criticizing Obama on a range of issues, from the economy to his handling of the protests in the Middle East to his position on abortion.

That offensive will continue, explained the source, who said Ryan will be "message-focused" on the stump.

The new focus on policy detail comes amid reports of campaign infighting, with chief strategist Stuart Stevens bearing the brunt of the blame for a Republican convention that failed to deliver any serious momentum for Romney.

Campaign sources refused to characterize the new substance offensive as a strategy shift in the face of stagnant poll numbers, even though Republicans in Washington and elsewhere have said privately since the Democratic National Convention that Romney needs to shake up his message if he wants to win.

The Romney official said the latest campaign tweaks are routine at this stage in the race.

"We have got 50 days left and voters are starting to pay attention," the source said. "This is the time for us to clearly communicate what Gov. Romney will do to distinguish himself from President Obama."

Another Romney adviser embraced the challenge of being an underdog and said incumbents typically lead their challengers until the closing days of a campaign.

The adviser said the campaign made a calculated gamble to lay low during the Democratic Convention, even if it allowed President Obama to dominate that week's news cycle and secure a post-convention bump.

"We went dark over the convention and that saved us $20 million and we did it very deliberately knowing that when we came out of the convention we'd have less of a bump," the adviser said. "$20 million is $20 million, and you're competing against that other message. We are very disciplined about it. We would rather spend our $20 million now in an uncluttered environment."

Asked to describe the new tone of the Romney message, the adviser answered, "It's just a winning the election package."


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. John Blackadder

    Romney light on specifics?
    He's been running this campaign on sound bites. Mitt DOESN'T have a plan.

    September 17, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "Romney is like a Chinese product, great packaging on the outside and a useless piece of garbage on the inside."

    And likely containing more than a little poison.

    September 17, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. mws12345

    You really do have to re-tool a tool.

    September 17, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Mark of Tennessee

    Romney is a joke!! A bad JOKE!!!!

    September 17, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. REPUBLICAN ARE THE GREATEST

    By Rasmussen polls Mitt Romney is leading Barack Obama National and Swing States bt 47 to 45. Go Mitt Romney we can and will win this race.

    September 17, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Anti women's rights, anti immigration, anti medicare, anti social security, anti veterans benefits, anti environment, anti college students, anti worker, anti middle class, anti poor, anti education may be the way to go to excite the base; but being pro war, pro tax cuts for the wealthy, and for huge national debts only works for birthers.

    September 17, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Jack from Illinois

    Too little too late, and I'll give you five to one that his 'retooled' message directly contradicts positions he's on record as having taken and held within the past three months.

    I.e., it's a mulligan, an as-you-were, a free restart, a rewriting, and an etch-a-sketch moment, (again) of the candidate with no plans, no values, and no clue.

    If Americans are stupid enough to elect this guy and his stick-it-to-the-middle-class VP pal, we deserve them.

    September 17, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. keeth

    Shaking up that etch-a-sketch again!

    September 17, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. communicator1453

    The smell of desperation is setting in.

    September 17, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Prince Harry and William both voluntarily serve in the military, Romney's five(5) sons don't serve, is that because they are considered to be KINGS sitting on a royal throne.

    September 17, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Chuck

    Why? We already know he's a tool...

    September 17, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Terry

    I guess the Koch bros and his other billionaire backers have told him what they need him to say, which means more flipfloppong lies and half truths. He has no plan to articulate except the one his puppet masters give him. He has no soul, no ideas and no convictions, We don't need him leading us backwards!!

    September 17, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. Sniffit

    They're pretty much hoping that, if they do release more details and specifics for once, they have waited long enough for nobody to be able to do a study analyzing what the effect of those details/specifics would be. This is what I expect as an example of "details": He'll come out claiming that he's going to do X, Y and Z in terms of closing tax loopholes and deductions, and then say that because of X, Y and Z, his tax plan won't cause middle-class taxes to go up by an average of $2,000 per year as the Tax Policy Center already showed...and his hope is that noboy can do anything to disprove it because it's too late for a full blown study. His campaign realized that it's now less than 2 months to the election, so they can start making brand new baseless and substanceless claims and promises that nobody will have time to analyze for their truthfulness and accuracy. Get ready to be buried under a mountain of lies.

    September 17, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. BADGUY

    I think Romney's ALREADY lost the election. The only REAL question left: Who will have control of the House and Senate>

    September 17, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Roscoe Chait

    It must be very time consuming to fashion lies so they sound like the truth. Maybe they should hire a mystery or science fiction writer to work on Romney's program.

    September 17, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. rob

    I can understand why Gov. Romney is retooling his message. The underlying theme of this election has never been: "It's about the economy, stupid!" This election is about those that the economic recovery has left behind. And, it's clear from the polls that those who have been left behind do not have any confidence in Gov. Romney, with his Tea Party political platform and agenda, to lend a helping hand to those folks. Mr. Romney can retool all he wants. When President Obama is addressing the nation in his 2nd presidential inaugural speech next January, he can give a "shout out" to the Tea Party and thank them for his 2nd term.

    September 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. proud canadian

    Romney lost the election because the GOP primaries had weak candidates who he blew with negative adds.He lost trust of most people who believe he is hiding something in his tax returns and finally picking a white male VP was not bold.He should have gone for Rubio instead.Another wrong assumptions even from pundits is that the issue will be the economy.No the issue is trust and Romney/GOP are not aligned to the middle class.Finally blaming Obama is not a strategy.

    September 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Too litttle, too late. A sign of desperation this late into the capaign. Romney should begin by releasing his tax returns.

    September 17, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. reginaldb6

    The GREAT FLIP FLOPPER AT IT AGAIN, Romney we will look at your campaign fairly if YOU RELEASE YOUR TAXES!!

    September 17, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. qwedie

    My new message is that I will say anything to get elected no matter what! No I really mean it this time!

    September 17, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. troy

    Why hasn't Romney told America what his plans are before? The answer is very simple.

    Romney is in a pickle. There is no plausible way he can explain his economic plan without admitting that it will hurt the middle class and favor the rich. This is why he never brought it up before. He didn't detail it before the convention, during it, or after it simply because he knew it would make him look bad. Now, in desperation as he continues to slide in the polls, Romney knows he has nothing left. Look for President Obama to pounce on Romney's economic plan "details" and destroy him during the debates.

    This just may turn out to be an Obama landslide after all.

    September 17, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. BuschCehney

    What a joke RoMoney is! He is just a well-Oiled Windvane. Every day it is a new twist and turn. How can such a Flip-Plop person rule a country like US?

    September 17, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. The Realist

    Retool?

    More like a retread.

    Mitt Romney is, unfortunately, clueless and gullible.

    His policy will be a tired repeat of the Bush-era neocon agenda.

    Remember, war is good for business ... their business.

    September 17, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Mike Texoma

    My pastor says to me that he cannot believe I can say Obama and God in the same breath in good conscience. I say we are not voting for a new protestant pope. We are voting for a president for 325 milion people. He cannot be Saint Paul, and still represent them. My pastor protests that Obama stands for abortion on demand. I tell himn, no, Obama stands for a woman's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She does not forfeit those rights because she has a uterus. Neither does Obama deny the idea that an unborn fetus can have constitutional rights incoonsisent with the mmother's. Rather, Obama favors reasonable limits or restrictions on the availability of abortion that strike a balance between them. That is not easy to do, I tell him. Nor will he favor a freshly fertilized egg over that woman's reproductive health. My pastor just throws up his hands.

    My pastor, and many, many others, do not seem to worry much about the economic health of America, or of our social safety net, or of the warlike inclinations of his political bedfellows.

    September 17, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. SoSad

    "Romney hits reset on campaign as he trails Obama" – USA Today – 9/17/12

    September 17, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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