Is Romney too focused on the economy?

Even so, Reagan’s campaign wasn’t singularly focused on Carter’s economic record. Reagan extensively blasted Carter on foreign policy (including the Iran hostage crisis and alleged weakness against the Soviets in Afghanistan and elsewhere). He depicted the President as wimpy in general, proclaiming that “There is a leadership crisis in America.” And he peddled a vigorous anti-Washington message (“Get the government off our backs”) that fired up both Goldwater conservatives and blue-collar Democrats…

It’s obviously ominous for Obama that both those incumbents lost. But it’s possible that that Romney is doing him a favor with his light touch on issues other than the economy. Yes, Romney has hammered at Obama’s foreign policy on fronts like China and Iran, and has promised to slash government spending through something like the Ryan Plan. But even some conservatives agree that those positions feel like footnotes to Romney’s core message, an almost prosecutorial indictment of Obama’s economic performance.

And then there is the likeability factor. Americans continue to give Obama high personal approval ratings, even as they doubt his job performance. Voters still seem to be figuring Romney out, in part because the Republican has been reluctant to open up about his family, faith and personality; it’s almost as though the Romney campaign believes that the candidate himself is a potential distraction from the winning issue of the economy. Some campaign pros predict a close race that could be decided when massive audiences tune into the three scheduled presidential debates in October. How Romney rises to that test personally could be as important as the message he delivers. Republicans may think this election should be almost exclusively about the economy. But recent history shows that it’s rarely quite so simple.