“Jeb Bush, whose endorsement of Mitt Romney helped secure the candidate as the all-but-certain GOP nominee, said an interview Romney should avoid the urge to wage a negative campaign. The popular former Florida governor also offered up his pick for Romney’s running mate, and said he’d consider a spot on the GOP ticket if asked.

“‘I think Mitt needs to stay above the fray a bit, and to offer a hopeful message that can lift people’s spirits up,’ Bush said in an interview this week with the conservative website Newsmax…

“‘I don’t think we need to demonize the president,’ Bush said. ‘I know a lot of people when my brother was president spent a lot of energy trying to demonize a good honorable man.'”

***

“A candidate falls into the Twitter Trap when he allocates substantial time, energy, and resources to chasing the news cycle and scoring points with reporters and pundits. This sort of strategy may keep staff busy and amused, but it is not the way to victory. Romney must avoid playing at Obama’s level. He must project an image appropriate to the office of the presidency while attacking endlessly the incumbent’s record on the economy, the debt, and health care. He must strike a drastic contrast with the president, who is going to run this campaign small and petty because he has no other options…

“When David Axelrod mentions the dog, remind the country that this is the worst recovery in history. When David Plouffe mentions the rich, let Americans know that everyone’s taxes should be low, that everyone’s taxes are scheduled to spike on Jan. 1, that Obamacare includes numerous taxes on every American, and that the middle class has fared the worst in the Obama economy. When Debbie Wasserman Schultz sneers that Republicans are coming after women, stress the importance of a culture of life and Obamacare’s threat to religious liberty. Ask every audience Reagan’s question: ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ Unless the audience is filled with TARP recipients and government workers, the answer will be no.

“The deeper into the year we get, the more desperate Obama is likely to become. There will be incendiary rhetoric. The smears will be over the top. The hits will be exaggerated; some may draw blood. The Twitter Trap will beckon. But Romney can’t succumb. He can’t flinch.”

***

“There is a reflexive desire among a certain species of moderate Republicans to be perceived as ‘civil’ by liberal opponents who believe that the mere existence of free-market, limited-government conservatism is an indecent affront to humankind. All aboard the U.S.S. Lost Cause…

“Romney’s smarter-than-thou strategists explain that he can’t scare off independents and Democrats with straight talk about Obama’s thuggery. But he’s turning off the conservative base, on whom his hold is tenuous. More importantly, Romney’s McCain-lite impersonation is also writing off independents and Democrats who’ve come to realize what the myriad targets of White House bullying have learned the hard way over the past four years: Barack Obama is not a ‘nice guy.’…

“There is nothing hateful about exposing Team Obama’s hardball tactics and government witch-hunts against taxpayers, businesses and political opponents.

“There is nothing unbecoming or un-presidential about questioning the Obama administration’s Chicago gangster treatment of dissidents, whistleblowers and watchdogs.”

***

“Welcome to the Obama campaign, version 2.0. If, as Mario Cuomo once said, you campaign in poetry and govern in prose, then running for reelection may be something akin to grunting at regular intervals. In 2008, Obamaland prided itself on rejecting such brass-knuckle politicking, much of it perfected by Bill Clinton. ‘We don’t do war rooms,’ was a Team Obama mantra, as one veteran of the campaign and the administration recalls. These days, by contrast, there are dozens of operatives raring to pounce on the slightest Republican misstep…

“Far from a badge of dishonor, though, the new ruthlessness is actually a sign of maturity. ‘It’s not like Bill Clinton created a war room because he had the personality for a war room,’ says the Obama administration veteran. ‘He did it because that’s what you have to do today to respond to the crazy shit that comes your way.’ What Obama and his team have accepted is that, while there’s a lot to be said for changing politics and elevating the discourse, your most important job as president is to defend your priorities. And the way to do that is to win…

“Some of the anxiety centers around Cutter, who oversees the daily combat operation in Chicago and is legendary in Democratic circles for her Dresden-esque tactics. Whereas the communications apparatus for the Romney campaign, like Obama’s in 2008, must simultaneously sell policies, craft speeches, and win each news cycle, Cutter has the advantage of commanding a deep bench of operatives whose only focus is the latter. ‘The point is, that’s all they’re doing,’ says the strategist close to the White House, noting that the West Wing shoulders the rest of the workload.”

***

“After months of depicting Mr. Romney as the ultimate squishy, double-talking, no-core soul, Team Obama is shifting gears. Senior administration officials, along with Democratic and campaign officials, all say their strategy now will be to tell the world that Mr. Romney has a core after all — and it’s deep red…

“David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, said in a telephone interview, ‘Whether it’s tax policy, whether it’s his approach to abortion, gay rights, immigration, he’s the most conservative nominee that they’ve had going back to Goldwater.’ He added that ‘one of the key issues in the campaign is to make sure people know that.'”

***

“‘As soon as he put the dog on the roof of the car, I bailed,’ she said. ‘I don’t understand what that man was thinking. I can’t get my head around it!'”

“Virtually everyone interviewed gave Obama a pass on the dog meat, calling it a cultural difference. That included Ron Friedman, a Romney supporter from Gurnee, Ill., proud owner of a Pomeranian shih tzu.

“‘He was a young kid,’ said Friedman, who works in the health care industry. ‘It was the practice in that country. I won’t make this an issue when it’s not.’…

“Friedman added that he thinks the whole Seamus affair is a ‘cynical ploy’ — as is the dog-meat issue. He wants to see more substance. ‘Is this the worst they have on Romney? At least attack him on the issues!‘”

***

Via Gallup.