Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is reshaping his message from an all-economic pitch to an all-out challenge to what he argues is a failed status quo, taking a risk with barely 50 days to go in the campaign.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie will have an elevated role in shaping the campaign message for the GOP nominee and will focus it more tightly on a broader change-versus-status-quo strategy.
“The timing is right at this moment to reinforce the specifics, more specifics about the Romney plan for a stronger middle class,” Gillespie told reporters during a conference call Monday.
The point, Romney aides said, is that if voters find all aspects of the status quo, including economic and foreign policy, acceptable, they should vote to re-elect President Barack Obama. But if they are fed up with what Romney argues is failure across the board by Obama, they will turn to Romney.
With the campaign momentum currently on Obama’s side, Romney sought Monday to explain to voters more clearly what he would do as president, as he looked to right his struggling campaign and ease worries in Republican circles about its state seven weeks before Election Day.
As the outward strategy changes, the Romney campaign also has launched a quiet outreach effort designed to stem dissension among the Washington Republicans who have been more and more vocal in their criticism of the nominee’s campaign.
Key Romney aides have been tasked with leading the effort, which also includes discussions with Washington consultants tied to outside groups that have poured tens of millions of dollars into the presidential contest so far. Those groups, which are keenly aware of the perceived problems inside Romney’s camp, are weighing how to balance limited resources between the presidential campaign and congressional races in the coming weeks.
Romney was using his own campaign dollars to launch new television ads highlighting his plans as he prepared to address a Hispanic business group in Los Angeles.
“My plan is to help the middle class,” the Republican nominee says in a new TV ad in which he promises to cut the deficit, balance the budget, reduce spending and help small business. “We’ll add 12 million new jobs in four years.”
It was one of two new commercials he was launching in the most competitive states — the other assails Obama as bad for middle-class families — while also re-focusing his campaign appearances on his previously released five-point economic plan and starting a new effort to try to narrow Obama’s advantage with Hispanic voters.
In addition, Romney was preparing to make a series of speeches aimed at offering voters a more concrete outline of his plans for the country and he’s spending a significant amount of time preparing for next months’ series of debates, mindful that the face-to-face meetings may be his last best hope of overtaking Obama.
The emphasis on Romney’s plans for the future comes after a week in which Republican veterans of presidential campaigns publicly implored the GOP nominee to give voters a clearer sense of how he would govern, saying that simply castigating Obama wouldn’t be enough to win. The new effort also follows a series of polls that show Obama with an edge nationally and in key states, and amid reports of infighting at Romney’s Boston-based campaign.
With griping in GOP circles mounting, Romney and his advisers spent the weekend in Boston hashing out a plan to try to shift the dynamics of the race before the first debate on Oct. 3.