Top Romney advisers believe this “new base” of Romney voters, mostly women but also some right-leaning GOP men, want three things from a GOP standard-bearer:
1. Zero talk of hot wars in Iran and Syria and a measured plan to move out of Afghanistan—one that doesn’t cede the country in toto to the Taliban.
2. Bipartisanship. It was no accident Romney invoked it in his closing statement and earlier discussions of economic growth and domestic policy. Romney’s pacifism in the face of Obama’s attacks—“wrong and reckless” ideas, Bush-Cheney redux, “horses and bayonets”—was designed to demonstrate a bipartisan turning of the cheek. Though still critical of Obama, Romney was nevertheless strategically soothing in backing—generally—Obama policy on Syria, Iran, drone strikes, and the U.S.-supported disposing of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
3. Tie economic growth to national security. New Romney voters fear the Greece pit of debt, austerity, political chaos, and misery, and want someone who sounds like he has a plan to avoid it. Romney’s “new base” doesn’t consider this extraneous to the foreign-policy conversation and Romney advisers believe there was more to gain there than, say, on Libya—an issue Romney simply jettisoned.