The reinvention of Mitt Romney

From the looks of it, the 2012 version of Romney will be somewhat different than the one that lost in 2008. In that campaign, Romney tacked hard to the right — where Romney and his strategists perceived an opening as the conservative alternative to front-runners John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.

In retrospect, Team Romney believes their strategy was in error, according to some who are familiar with the campaign’s post-election brainstorming. Although exit polls showed that he did well among the most ideological conservatives — particularly those most adamantly opposed to McCain’s immigration-reform stance — he was not able to win over religious Christian conservatives. That left him unable to make up for sacrificing the votes of relatively moderate primary-goers…

As a result, the new Romney is now de-emphasizing social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and illegal immigration. He has made no public comment, for instance, about last week’s announcement that top military leaders intend to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, has scrupulously avoided association with the Tea Party movement, and has refrained from backing conservatives that other presidential hopefuls have endorsed, such as Doug Hoffman in New York or Marco Rubio in Florida.

No Apology, and a series of planned speeches Romney will give during his book tour, will drive home that shift in emphasis. Advance word on the book, plus an audio excerpt released on the Web, make clear that it avoids those topics, and focuses on Romney’s vision of maintaining America’s fiscal and military superiority.

Interestingly, this latest incarnation is probably the closest we have seen to the “real” Mitt Romney — who close observers believe doesn’t care much about social issues, isn’t very ideological, and revels in applying management skills to large organizations to help them achieve their goals and functions.