At the beginning of this roller-coaster week on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney's team was sending signals that the campaign was about to undergo a re-tooling of sorts.
The plan called for a multi-state advertising blitz, a series of speeches by Romney clearly laying out his economic plans, a message to voters that included more specifics about how, if elected, he would carry out his proposals, among other things. The strategy was essentially: "More Mitt."
Then, the leaked fundraising video happened, followed by the campaign's incremental response, followed by a raft of criticism among members of Romney's own party and conservatives not only unhappy with Romney's candid remarks on the hidden-camera tape but also with the direction of his campaign.
Today marks the beginning of Romney's re-reset. Again, the strategy is "More Mitt." Senior Romney advisers passed along the rough game plan for the coming weeks to ABC's Jonathan Karl:
–DON'T PANIC: Romney himself sets the tone for the campaign and, as one adviser told Karl, "He never gets too high; he never gets too low." Romney has seen worse: he faced near-death experiences at least twice during the primary (the South Carolina loss, the losses, on the same day, to Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado).
–THE MESSAGE: The campaign is promising a "sharper message" in its upcoming advertising blitz. The message will be economy/jobs, of course, and it will be tailored to each state, each media market. In other words, it will hammer Obama on military cuts in Virginia, coal and manufacturing in Ohio, etc.
–THE SCHEDULE: Expect Romney to have "a very intense schedule" in the coming weeks — packed with events in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and other key states. This may seem like the obvious thing to do, but Romney lately has had a strangely light public schedule recently, with many more closed fundraisers in red states than campaign rallies in battleground states. At one recent Texas fundraiser, Karl notes, a donor told Romney, "I am happy to write a check, but why are you here? Shouldn't you be in Ohio?"
–THE DEBATES: More than anything, they are counting on a strong performance in the debates, especially the first on Oct. 3 in Denver, to pull them ahead of Obama.
The Romney campaign this morning announced a stepped-up pace in the battleground states. Next week, we'll see Romney and running mate Paul Ryan back on the hustings. This time the duo will take part in a three-day "Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" bus tour across Ohio. Ryan is set to campaign in Lima and Cincinnati while Romney will travel to Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo.