Romney campaign aims to recalibrate around economic message
September 20th, 2012
04:12 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney campaign aims to recalibrate around economic message

Washington (CNN) – In response to sagging battleground polls and criticism from some Republican party insiders, the Romney campaign – as part of its recalibration – intends to get more specific with its economic message, trying to reach out to the increasing number of voters who believe Mitt Romney doesn't understand their problems.

In interviews with senior Romney advisers and outsiders close to the campaign, the emerging strategy appears to boil down to a simple point: "We need to reassure Americans that Romney can fix things, and he (President Obama) can't," says one campaign insider. "Voters already believe Romney has a better chance of fixing the economy. We have to tell them just how it will be better for them."

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In other words, says this source, "personalize" the economic message. And also Team Romney will try to clarify it – especially in the wake of Romney's secretly recorded comments at a May fund-raiser about how 47% of the country is "dependent" on the government, describing those people as seeing themselves as "victims." On Wednesday, for instance, the GOP nominee went out of his way to tell a Univision audience that "my campaign is about the 100% in America" – the campaign's latest attempt at damage control.

According to one source, the campaign "has not ruled out" a formal domestic policy speech before the debates or the possibility of more television ads with the candidate speaking directly to the camera. It's clear the campaign understands its two key deficits: first, that Romney has all but lost his dominance on the economic management issue. And that the 3-1 disadvantage on the question of "which candidate connects well with ordinary Americans" is unsustainable if the GOP candidate is to win.

While the campaign denies Romney has been mostly MIA on the stump, officials do admit they have spent a significant amount of time fund-raising.

As Romney intensifies his campaign schedule in the coming days, senior advisers say the candidate will be back on his message of job creation. But he will also be more specific about energy (pushing for the Keystone pipeline, proposing more domestic oil production.) On health care, Romney will continue to press his case that the administration's health care overhaul will cost people more money either by seeing their premiums increase or having to pay penalties if they don't get insurance once the law takes effect.

There is a real sense – from those inside and Republicans outside the campaign- that waiting for Romney to rescue himself at the first debate, set for Oct. 3rd, is a bad idea. "The campaign is being framed between now and that debate," says one Romney adviser. Says another GOP strategist, not affiliated with the campaign, "they need to sharpen their message" and "they need to offer more details…they are losing the daily war."

In other words, says a different source close to the campaign, "there is an understanding that we have to shape our environment as much as react to it."

One problem for the Romney campaign itself is that voter optimism about the future appears to be on the upswing. In a CNN/ORC poll earlier this month, 67% percent said they thought economic conditions in the country would be good a year from now while last October 39% responded that way.

As for the mood inside the Romney campaign, sources say there's no widespread sense of gloom. "Nobody around here is hanging their heads," says one adviser. "We are determined, and think we can win this thing. There is no change in attitude."

In fact, another Romney adviser makes the case that Obama's post-convention lead of seven points has disappeared and points to the latest Gallup daily tracking poll which has the race dead even at 47%-47%.

When asked about the decline in Romney numbers in key battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida and Virginia, these aides make the case that the numbers are in flux and close enough to turn around, particularly as the candidate gets more specific about how, as one adviser puts it, "Americans will be better off for the next four years under a President Romney."

And the Romney campaign now believes it cannot wait to make that case in the first debate on October 3.

CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this story.


Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    Geesh! How many Etch-A-Sketch moments can you have in just 2 weeks? Give it up Willard. Your goose is cooked.

    September 20, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. TheVoice2

    He only cares about 52% of Americans. He will repeal the Dream Act. Repeal HCR. More tax cuts for the rich. Offshore bank accounts. Won't disclose full tax returns. Deregulate Wall Street. Privatize Medicare and SS. Go to war with Russia, China, and Iran. MORE tax cuts for the rich. And no JOBS PLAN!

    This guy is already a disgrace!

    September 20, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. Deb in MT

    shake shake shake that Etch-a-Sketch, Mittens!

    September 20, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. Save the Rich, Vote GOP

    "Voters already believe Romney has a better chance of fixing the economy. We have to tell them just how it will be better for them."

    Um, no. I do not believe Romney has a better chance of fixing the economy, and I am a voter. That being said, I am not part of the 1% that he intends to help, so that my be the reason I do not believe he has a better chance of improving the economy. Now, if I made a million plus, that opinion would surely change as I would see a big payday coming from the middle class.

    September 20, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. smh1999

    Obama so out of touch he couldn't tell Letterman what the national debt is!

    September 20, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    I never saw a politician go from saying he's for the 47% of a Country to saying he was for 100% of the Country so fast. Does he think we're so stupid that we can't remember he was seen on TV saying 47% on Monday & started saying 100% on Thursday ?

    September 20, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    So are we to forget the repubs got us into this? Bailed and then refused to help? Sorry Willard blame Mitch Mcconnel and Boehner.

    September 20, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    You can't fix something when you don't understand the people that make it work, or worse, write them off. Mitt's done.

    September 20, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. w l jones

    To little to late try build a new house with old rusted nails.

    September 20, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. John

    The Romney campaign has the solution. Cut taxes on millionaires and cut benefits to the poor to pay for the tax cuts for the rich. They call it RomneyHood.

    September 20, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. FrankinSD

    Romney's going to have trouble recalibrating his economic message as long as people are wondering whether he, himself, is part of the 47% who don't pay Federal income taxes. He implied as much when he said in one of the GOP debates that if one of his opponents was successful in eliminating the capital gains tax his marginal rate would be less than 1%. If that's true (and you never know with Romney) then he probably has paid no income tax in some years (capital gains taxes, like payroll taxes, being a different creature).

    September 20, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Patriot Awesome

    Could someone explain exactly why I shouldn't think that Romney is a Plutocrat?

    September 20, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. LegalizeReason

    Specifics? We received all the specifics we needed when he chose Mr. Ryan as his running mate. Two delusional "self-made" men looking down their noses at the vast majority of Americans. Send a message: Throw out all Republican members of Congress in November (except moderates if you can find any).

    September 20, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    The economy is where Democrats lose the White House and The Senate. Fortunately, this is also the greatest issue with American voters. Romney/ Ryan 2012 knows how to win. We are watching them do just that.

    September 20, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "One problem for the Romney campaign itself is that voter optimism about the future appears to be on the upswing. "

    Enter demagoguery, stage right.

    September 20, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. ST

    Why not bring "W" and explain they way Dems brought Bill Clinton? Romney campaign are starting to engage themselves in a panicking mood! Be calm and lose like gentlemen.

    September 20, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    More Etch-A-Sketch from the guy whose entire private career was spent playing Hungry Hungry Hippos. Nom nom nom nom nom all your monies are belong to meeeeeeee.......

    September 20, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. myviewis

    Here's my comparison of the 2 men:

    Obama – beautiful salesman
    intoxicating
    makes you want more of him
    cool & hip
    great salesman: he can convince a woman that he feels their pain in childbearing and woman will buy that he
    feels her pain when he has never carried a baby nor delivered a baby
    doesn't get things done
    doesn't fix anything
    wastes a lot of time
    has no working experience in the real world
    has figured out how to roll people and buy himself time

    Romney: real and messes up on the campaign trail
    not a salesman
    hard working buisnessman
    loves to work and fix what is wrong
    not fake

    September 20, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. Vic of New York

    ...You mean how it will be better for the 53% – Right? Because everyone else is a moocher....

    September 20, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Sorensen

    They have now "recalibrated" old Romney 200 times. When does it dawn on that bunch of naive "advisors" that they
    have been screwed up for a long time and there is no way out. Are they all ex-employees of Bain? Who is ever going
    to hire Bain for strategic advice after the former CEO has been totally humiliated?

    September 20, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. luke,az

    Gov. Romney is not presidential material. He continually flip flops on every issue. Romney/Ryan,the Vulture/Voucher guys would take us back to the policies of George Bush. By the way Gov. Romney, SHOW US YOUR TAXES !!!

    September 20, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Laverne

    Yeah, that was before voters heard the real truth and the lies Romney and the repubs having been pushing for months has ran out of time. You can't lie but so long before it catches up to you! The avalanche is just beginning to fall, all the hateful, deceitful things the repubs and all their filthy rich buddies have been plotting is coming to the light!

    September 20, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Emma in Baltimore

    Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake ...
    Just can seem to get the right picture on the Etch-A-Sketch.

    September 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Howard

    At the Democratic convention, Michelle told the fabricated dishonest story of how poor Barack grew up in such poverty. The only thing missing was violins. Now, we know that it was all B.S.. In reality, Barack attended an expensive upscale school in Indonesia ... his grandmother was a vice president of a bank in Hawaii, where he attended an expensive upscale school ... and after that he lived in the expensive upscale part of Chicago, while working and visiting the poor sections, as a community organizer. All this fabricated dishonest B.S. ... and, you gullible Obama stooges embrace it, and blindly defend your 'Dear Leader' ... Obama is a liar, who is destroying America. You Obama stooges, love Obama more than you love America. America is more important than Obama. Obama is expendable and replaceable ... America is not. Save America ... Dump the liar and thief in November !!!

    September 20, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Thomas

    OK , sounds great !

    Let me help with some catchy slogans for the new Romney campaign's recalibrated economic message .

    Change , it's what goes into a dollar 2012

    Yes I can , maybe 2012

    Romney / Ryan 100% made in America 2012

    Trust Me Please 2012

    Please Trust Me 2012

    I can make us all money 2012

    You too can have a car elevator 2012

    Have Jet Will Travel , I too am Unemployed 2012

    Please trust me PLEASE 2012 !

    My Father told me I need to be rich before I run for president , " I"M RITCH " 2012 !

    My Gift to the Romney Campaign , free of charge !

    September 20, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
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