Fighting Work in Progress

image: Cupcakes with the name of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are seen at a campaign event at American Containers before the start of the Women for Mitt kick-off of a "Stronger Middle Class" Bus Tour of South Florida in Miami on Sept. 17, 2012.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
Cupcakes with the name of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are seen at a campaign event at American Containers before the start of the Women for Mitt kick-off of a "Stronger Middle Class" Bus Tour of South Florida in Miami on Sept. 17, 2012.

11:45 a.m. E.T.

On technical competence, the Romney campaign is handling its (latest) “relaunch” pretty well so far.

First off, a well-executed “turn the page” gambit involves implicitly acknowledging the campaign was on the wrong track, without admitting too much and thereby counterproductively driving more “campaign in disarray” stories. The idea is to suggest a purposeful, clear-eyed change of course, rather than a half-cocked, panicky swerve. Boston seems to have hit their mark on this pretty well, with their targeted backgrounding to selected press types, taking advantage of the fact that this is a group always eager for a new story line.

Second, the campaign has put Romney himself at the center of the comeback narrative, rather than arguments about process, money, etc. This is essential for a number of reasons, including the Republican’s deficits compared with President Obama on a range of traits in the minds of voters. The project of making Romney an acceptable (or, even, desirable) alternative to the well-liked incumbent was, to state the obvious, not completed in Tampa.

Third, from the looks of and reports about Romney’s Wednesday night Miami rally, he’s sounding a bit more fired up and ready to go than usual. If you think about recent presidential campaign comebacks, the perception and reality of the candidate “fighting” back is almost always at the center of the narrative. Think, among many other examples, Kerry 2004 against Dean, Gore 2000 against both Bradley and Bush, Bill Clinton always, Bush 2000 against McCain, McCain 2008 against the GOP field. Of course, not all those comebacks led to ultimate victory.

The “new” Romney and Romney-Ryan campaign still face a lot of challenges, to be sure. Bad poll numbers continue, per usual, to drive much of the coverage. If the polls don’t turn after a Twitter-generation decent interval, there will be more bad stories about the failure of Romney’s latest reinvention. Boston hasn’t really addressed, let alone solved, the policy-specificity-is-a-character-issue puzzle. Romney has to pour more of himself into the race while also being prepared to debate Obama. Chicago is still the 24/7 negative killing machine it has been all cycle. And the Gang of 500 remains at best skeptical of, and often hostile to, Romney and his chances — a sentiment that is released on a hair trigger.

Related Topics: Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, 2012 Elections, Analysis, Democratic Party, News, Republican Party, The Page

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