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. kayla

    this campaign is like a chicken without head

    September 20, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. cali girl

    Right. Robmey said in his video he would do NOTHING for the economy. Not a bill of legislation. NO money for business to hire. Just sit back and wait of the economy to magically get better. That works so well in 2005 to 2008 didn't it?

    September 20, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    ****************
    Charlie Sheen fan? Is this what you call "winning"? He has kept a light campaign schedule, refuses to explain himself...please. He's losing and we are watching he and Ryan do just that.

    September 20, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Marty, FL

    Oh brother, Romney just tried to 'retool' on Monday right before divisively deriding half of America.

    Romney should really recalibrate and release his tax returns.

    September 20, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. 1crusader

    What someone says or does in settings outside of formal speeches and debates is more telling than the moments that they're officially "on".That video of Romney said it all..He and the people that he was talking to in that room are plutocrats who think that people not in their tax bracket are losers, and right now Romney, the forever flip-flopper, is trying to rehabilitate himself.It's all empty words.He has had years to make the case for why he should be president, and if he hasn't done it by now, and he hasn't, nothing that he says in a well-drafted speech , nor good debate performance matters.

    September 20, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Romney: real and messes up on the campaign trail
    not a salesman"

    Mittens' entire career was spent as a salesman. What freekin planet are you on?

    September 20, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. Michael

    Mitt the flipper-flopper-jumper-getting the thumper! This man is a con man, truth is nonsensical, obsolete, not needed, indefensible, old fashion, nostalgic and incredibly useless in his mind, business, politics and the GOP! IF AMERICA LET THE MEDIA MAKE THIS A CLOSE ELECTION SO THIS PRETENDER GET IN, HIS ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEMS WILL BE NUCLEAR WAR WITH, IRAN, N. KOREA, RUSSIA, CHINA AND PAKISTAN! THIS WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE ISRAEL DICTATED AND ROBME AGREED IN A SECRET MEETING! AMERICA SHOULD NOT TRUST THIS WAR MONGER OR HIS PARTY!

    September 20, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Ron

    I'm still not following Romney's so-called "economic message." It seems to me that his entire message is that some other candidate from the 2008 presidential election could have cleaned up Bushes mess faster. That's it, that's your message Mitt? That is a rather spurious assumption if you ask me.

    And since Romney has been running for president virtually non-stop since 2006, one should really think he would have it down by now. I mean, how much more "on-the-job" running for president does one really need?

    September 20, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. adgnyc

    Romney better for the economy? Maybe for the 1%, but not the rest of us.

    September 20, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. spinGolly

    Once again, The Rombot is flailing. Now, he is rolling out the word “redistribution”. He knows he needs 60% of the white vote to win and he thinks this is his best strategy to get there. When he says “redistribution” he does not mean taking money from those with higher income to fund defense or infrastructure. He does not even mean taking peoples income to pay for social security, medicare or some other type of government service. Redistribution is a code word to white voters that means taking your money and giving it to immigrants and black people or, as Santorium put it, “blah people”. He’s going straight for 60% of the white vote by appealing to the worst part of human nature—racism. It’s utterly disgusting!

    September 20, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. ghostriter

    Howard, you mock Obama's story of growing up poor. Mitt's dad was far from middle class. Are we to believe that Mitt had it bad as Ann said? I believe using an ironing board as a table?

    I'll believe Romney when you believe Obama.

    September 20, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. v_mag

    Rob-money needs to crack open the old Swiss bank account and try to bribe some people. That's about his only hope at this point, and the Extreme Court has made it practically legal anyway, so why not? He's saved so much in recent years by bailing on his taxes, so we know he's got enough to just hand out money to people in "swing states". He can give new meaning to all those old Eastwood flicks: Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More. He needs to recalibrate, or recalculate, the amount he can afford to give people to vote for him.

    September 20, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Larry L

    By "recallibrate" Romney means "shake the Etch-A-Sketch" and do some flip-flopping! Why not just show Americans your tax returns and we'll decide how you manage money? Everybody now assumes you got caught breaking the law and your sleazy lawyers plea-bargined the fine. Is that why you're hiding the information?

    September 20, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. ghostriter

    Mitt's economic plan?

    You'll have to pass it to see what's in it.

    September 20, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. Alex

    Myviews – I don't agree with you

    1. Not paying taxes even equal to the middle class pays and still wants more Tax cuts for himself – and cries that 47% don't pay taxes. How can we trust him – when he cannot share his tax returns – This means there is something to hide. He want to call 47% as suckers – But I think he is a even bigger sucker by keeping money in Swiss account and also in Cyaman islands.

    2. Does he even understand how the economy works!! The rich are there because of middle and poor class people who are working in the rich people's factories and businesses. Not only middle and poor are workers but they are also the customer. Even Henry Ford understood that and that the reason he increased the salary of his workers

    3. Poor and Middle class people are paying there dues taxes in terms of sales tax, property taxes and so on. Actually, the people who spend all there money are actually paying much higher taxes then Rich who are not spending but keeping money in the banks!! Do you know why? – very simple every good they buy has hidden tax as part of the cost of the good. Listen to Republicans talk about healthcare – By business having to provide healthcare – cost of goods will increase (Healthcare is nothing but tax – as already said by Supreme court). So the taxes business pay or the employees pay directly or indirectly part of the cost of the goods. If he doesn't understand that then there is a bigger problem.

    September 20, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    Willard go to your planet of kolob. You are the biggest flip flopper in American history. I guess this fits to your cult of mormonism. Just disappear and concede now.

    September 20, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. lolo

    Too late Romneyhood. He talks out of the side of his mouth, therefore he is a big liar. America cannot believe one word coming out of your mouth. He was so comfortable with his rich buddies at the dinner, that he forgot to keep lying. When you lie so much the truth eventually comes out. The GOP plans are coming out slowly, but surely. Romney is nothing but a businessman period. If it is not about money, he does not care. Yet his sheep expect the rest of us to vote for this clown. The only way he will win is that they steal it like they did Al Gore. People go vote and do not take anything for granted. The rest of the GOP/Tea party are next. Come November we will get rid of the obstructionist and put real politicians in office who want to work for America and not for party. Vote Democrat across the board unless there are true GOP'ers who want to help this country. To think this idiot thinks the middle class starts at $200,000.00. Give me a break. Now about those taxes? Romneyhood is part of the 47% who don't pay taxes and depend on government handouts.Romneyhood is nothing but al ying hypocrit. I guess the GOP picked him so that they do not have to worry about him trying for president ever again Who would have thought that Bishop Romney was such a big liar. The way he brags about being a Mormon Christian, the LDS better look more into his background, because he has been lying all of his life, this did not start because he is running for president I assure you.

    September 20, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Joyce

    The problem with Romney is he got caught with his pants down and now he is trying to pull them up. Just like President Bush didn't care about the people in New Orleans, Mitt Romney doesn't care about the middle class or the poor. Mitt Romney is a puppet. He is only looking out for his rich donors and everyone knows that. I don't understand how people can still want to vote for him. This man sent jobs overseas. This man makes sure that the stockholders make money not you and I. This man is not for womens rights. If you listen to the full tape a women that speaks her mind is wrong. This man wants to take us back to the Bush era, which put us in the mess that we are in today. This man wants to go to war, how will that be paid for? I just don't get it.

    September 20, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Thomas

    @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

    --–

    And he loves all the tress the same size , and what about the lakes !

    September 20, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    My state and several others start voting about the time of the 1st debate or sooner.

    I've heard more lies from Ryan/Romney than I ever intended to listen to. Now they're going to be telling us a whole new batch of lies???? (That's what re-tooling or etch-a-sketch is). NO thanks.

    Obama/Biden 2012 for sanity and a stable hand moving forward.

    September 20, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. GI Joe

    Hey Romney - for $25,000 I'll SAY I voted for you. ha ha ha ha ha haha

    September 20, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Wilson

    I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. We, here in America need to learn from that.

    September 20, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. GOP is Dead

    Independent voters are different from the Republican's radical, ill-informed, bigoted, and hateful base. They don't simply repeat what they hear on Fox News. They expect answers to their questions rather than just a list of sound bites approved by some focus group of political weasels. That's why Romney's campaign is going down the toilet!

    September 20, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Sorry Trees .

    Myviewis , Salesman Vs Businessmen ?

    September 20, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. Four and The Door

    cali girl
    Right. Robmey said in his video he would do NOTHING for the economy. Not a bill of legislation. NO money for business to hire. Just sit back and wait of the economy to magically get better. That works so well in 2005 to 2008 didn't it?
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________
    That's it, Cali Girl. You lose your job as Romney/ Ryan 2012 spokesperson. You didn't even mention the 12 million jobs are energy independence once. Did you miss these points somewhere?? And throwing money around like Obama has tried for 3 1/2 years doesn't do much, does it? At least not for middle class Americans. 8.3%, baby! Remember that number. It will explain one big reason why the Obama family moves to Chicago in January.

    September 20, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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