Via Greg Hengler, here’s O “kidding” with Ed Henry by implying that he’s a hack whose network is already in the tank for the likely nominee. Is that why Henry brought Romney up in his question — as a free plug at Obama’s expense for the guy who polls best against him head to head? Or is it maybe because Obama and his team are themselves already gratuitously injecting Romney into their political messaging and planning to start campaigning against him months before the first votes in Iowa are cast?

Mitt Romney hasn’t won anything yet, but President Barack Obama’s campaign team is confident enough that Romney is the probable — if not the presumptive — Republican nominee that they have begun aiming their fire almost exclusively at him…

“The other Republicans have sucked so bad we didn’t have any choice” but begin to target Romney months before the Iowa caucuses, said a top Obama ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity…

[T]he Obama campaign, stocked with 2008 veterans, thinks Obama’s standing in the polls is too low to allow Romney free reign to trash Obama without direct pushback. Moreover, they are thrilled to jump back in the middle of a campaign and eager to go on the attack after years on defense in the besieged West Wing.

But most importantly, targeting Romney gives Obama what he’s lacked since dispatching John McCain 23 months ago: A living, breathing, deeply flawed Republican foil who liberates the president from running only on the the hope-and-change expectations of 2008, now frayed after three difficult years.

There’s why he snapped at Henry, of course. If his job approval was at 55/40, you could shoot “Mitt Romney says” spitballs at him all day and he’d simply smile magnanimously and thank Mitt once again for his inspiration on ObamaCare. At 40/53, you get this — a sort of peevish humor. If his numbers slide any further, that last shred of mirth will disintegrate and he’ll be in full “let me be clear” glower mode. In fact, you could probably plot his mood at the mention of Romney’s name against his polling on a graph and produce a straight line. Something for Nate Silver to try whenever he has some downtime, maybe.

Two clips, one the exchange with Henry and the other, via Mediaite, of Henry’s reaction after the presser.