Moderate Mitt returns!

You could conceivably build a majority coalition around this framework, winning over more working-class women and some Hispanic voters. The crucial test will be whether Romney can develop, brand and sell this approach over the campaign’s final month.

Most important, Romney did something no other mainstream Republican has had the guts to do. Either out of conviction or political desperation, he broke with Tea Party orthodoxy and began to redefine the Republican identity. And, having taken this step, he’s broken the spell. Conservatives loved it! They loved that it was effective, and it was effective because Romney could more authentically be the man who (I think) he truly is.

Now it’s the Obama campaign that has problems to solve. Politically, the president will have to go back to portraying Romney as a flip-flopper instead of an ideologue. Substantively, Obama will have to kindle new passion. So far, he’s seemed driven by the negative passion of stopping Republican extremism. He’ll have to develop a positive passion for something he actually wants to do.

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