“Mitt Romney effectively assumed the helm of the Republican Party on Tuesday after five primary victories across the Northeast solidified his stature as the presidential nominee-in-waiting who is trying to unite conservatives and persuade independent voters that President Obama does not deserve a second term…
“The Romney campaign is aggressively looking into all aspects of the Obama administration, with a plan to present the president as a nice and likable but unsuited to solving the country’s economic challenges. Aides said they intended to keep the conversation focused on Mr. Obama’s record in the White House and not his personal biography.
“‘There is a pretty broad view that President Obama is a good family man and decent guy, but may be in over his head,’ said Mr. Gillespie, a former counselor to George W. Bush, who was brought into the Romney campaign this month. He said the argument against re-election would be built around the suggestion that Mr. Obama ‘has not displayed strong leadership, but failed leadership and weak leadership.'”
“The bad news for Obama four years later is that the first weeks of the general-election campaign have demonstrated that Mitt Romney and his top staff are not going to play by the same rules as the McCain campaign…
“Many conservative bloggers and reporters believe that mainstream publications and networks ignore stories that make the president or his allies look bad. One of the few surefire ways to force the media to cover a story they would prefer to ignore is to have the Republican presidential candidate talk about it. In 2008, McCain’s refusal to do so was particularly hobbling, but the Romney campaign is, so far at least, proving more willing to highlight those controversial topics or ones best handled with a bit of laughter — and utilizing the later hours of the campaign news cycle to do it…
“The Romney campaign is approaching the coming weeks with a strategy of ‘bracketing’ — doing events before and after key Obama campaign stops, making Obama’s message for that event implausible, refuted, and silly by the time he delivers his remarks. Before an Obama stop, Romney will do interviews with local radio stations. Last week Romney went to Charlotte, N.C., to give a ‘pre-buttal’ to Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in September. Romney was supposed to speak on a rooftop with a view of the convention site, the Bank of America football stadium; bad weather forced his team indoors, and Romney spoke with a the city skyline behind him.”
“On Romney’s speech Tuesday night, Santorum said he struck the right tone. ‘I think he painted a strong picture. It’s one that’s a clear contrast to what this president’s brought this country,’ he said. Despite having once been his opponent, Santorum said the goal is to defeat President Obama, and he would support that. ‘This is about making sure we have the right person in the presidency, in the House and the Senate,’ Santorum said. ‘I believe he’s the better — obviously I believed I was the better choice. But I’m not in the race anymore.’
“Morgan observed, ‘Unless I’m mishearing things, you just endorsed Mitt Romney’ — a charge Santorum jumped around, saying he’ll be meeting with Romney soon, and then we’ll see.”
“If Romney wins the election, it’s almost a sure bet that Republicans win control of both the House and the Senate. And that matters. Right now, the GOP’s agenda is the Ryan budget, and that’s entirely fiscal: It’s a premium support plan for Medicare, and tax cuts, and deep cuts to Medicaid, food stamps and other domestic programs. All that can be passed through budget reconciliation — which is to say, all that can be made immune to the filibuster.
“So if Romney wins and the Republicans take control, they could accomplish quite a lot on party-line votes, even if their majorities are slim, and Democrats are opposed. Indeed, Romney could end up being a fairly transformational president for conservatives so long as he’s paired with a Republican Congress.”
“Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?
“Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?
“If the answer were ‘yes’ to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy …and we’re not stupid.
“People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country.”