Mitt Romney is human, after all.
Employing what must be the most potent "humanization" tactic available, the Romney campaign released a bundle of medical records last week, confirming the candidate's status as not only a man, but a "vigorous" one with a resting heart rate (40 beats per minute) many of his fellow humans would envy.
Making the public certain of Romney's carbon-based existence had been of particular concern to partisans ahead of the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., last month. It wasn't enough, they said, for the candidate to bank on a popular rejection of the Obama economic record; he needed to make a psychic connection with other American humans.
But first impressions – many of them authored by the Obama campaign's relentless criticism of Romney's Bain Capital days and a trying GOP primary race – can be hard to shake. Republicans left Tampa talking as much about Clint Eastwood's interrogation of an invisible man as Romney's appearance as an empathetic one. Poll numbers released the following week only underlined their anxiety.
So the campaign responded, eventually, with the promise of another "reset," this time pledging to deliver more detailed policy proposals and "More Mitt."
"We need to lay out the vision and lay out the specifics as we are doing, but more clearly and more consistently on a daily basis," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Ed Gillespie, a former RNC leader, made a similar point six days earlier, telling reporters on a conference call, "There are a lot of Americans out there who are just now really starting to lock in and starting to look for more information and new information, and now is the time for us to provide that for them."
Hours later, secretly recorded video of the candidate's controversial remarks to fundraisers in Florida began to flood the internet. The resulting clean-up effort wiped out another precious "news cycle."
Today, with just 42 days until voters go to polls, the "reset" is back on.
"I'm going to make sure that people understand that this is a different direction for the nation," Romney told ABC News.
If voters want "real and positive change," he said, "that's what I represent."
This latest recalibration is more in line with that the campaign promised in early August, when after months of deliberation Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to be his running mate.
With Ryan – celebrated in conservative circles for his "Roadmap" for reforming the welfare state – on board, the Republican ticket was openly girding itself for what promised, surely, to be three months of real talk about "big ideas" and an honest "conversation" about the candidates' fundamentally different paths forward.
But just three days later, Romney, responding to what he perceived to be unfair attacks on Ryan's record, launched a memorable verbal assault on the president's "intellectually exhausted" campaign, one now dedicated, he said, to "diversions and distractions, to demagoguing and defaming others.
"It's an old game in politics; what's different this year is that the president is taking things to a new low."
Three months, it turned out, had been an optimistic figure.