As his first televised debate against Barack Obama approaches, Mitt Romney has intensified his preparation for this crucial date in light of the November 6 presidential election while the heads of the Republican Party's conservative wing call on him to beef up his campaign.
The Democratic president and his Republican rival will find themselves next Wednesday [October 3] in Colorado for the first of three presidential campaign debates.
If he had curbed his series of gaffes and faux pas which have increased his distance behind Barack Obama in the polls, Mitt Romney must find a way to turn around the campaign dynamic in his favor in a very short timeframe — after the Denver debate, there remain just five weeks for him to convince voters.
His campaign team, for its part, strives to reassure the Republican Party which worries about the turn of events. Campaign director Matt Rhoades was in Washington this week where, according to Republican sources, he met some of the most senior members of the Grand Old Party to expose them to the strategies that Romney is about to use in the home stretch.
The Republican Party is having difficulty bouncing back from a delicate end of summer, from the Tampa convention in Florida — disturbed by Hurricane Isaac — to the release of the "47 percent video," a secret recording in which Romney declares Barack Obama's voters to be people who are dependent on federal aid and who don't pay taxes on their income.
"Romney is lucky to be where he is given that we had two terrible weeks on defense and not talking about jobs," noted an adviser to the Republican candidate.
The former Massachusetts governor's difficulties have sown doubt among party conservatives, who have never appreciated his candidature since his debut in the primaries. Romney was depicted disparagingly as a "moderate from Massachusetts."
These last months the Republican candidate had succeeded in controlling them. Now some of them no longer hesitate to publicly express their feelings and call it a slip of the tongue. Charles Krauthammer, a conservative editor, wrote as such in Wednesday's Washington Post that Romney must take risks, proceed to the offensive and "play big."
Rather than talking about foreign aid reform, as he did at a conference organized this week by Bill Clinton alongside the UN General Assembly, [Krauthammer] regretted, the Republican candidate should have launched an attack on Barack Obama and reproached him for leaving the Arab Spring open to a new wave of anti-Americanism in the Middle East.
"For six months, he’s been matching Obama small ball for small ball. A hit-and-run critique here, a slogan-of-the-week there. His only momentum came when he chose Paul Ryan and seemed ready to engage on the big stuff: Medicare, entitlements, tax reform, national solvency, a restructured welfare state. Yet he has since retreated to the small and safe,” deplored Charles Krauthammer.
Mitt's wife Ann called on Republicans to hold their tongue. "Everyone has an opinion …We're trying everything we can. We know it's difficult out there on the campaign trail. And folks should know that Mitt is — he's putting every ounce of energy into it," she told Fox News.
"They Don't Stop Harassing Me"
Five days before the Denver debate, Mitt Romney received some good news Friday, the last results dating from the Reuters/Ipsos daily poll indicating that he had reduced his trail behind Obama by five points — 47 percent versus 42 percent — as opposed to seven points the day before.
Even if they emphasize the talents of the incumbent president's opposition, his strategies weigh heavily on next Wednesday's confrontation, since this first debate will be centered around economic problems, [which are] Romney's main campaign theme.
To coach their candidate, they have given Rob Portman, a Republican senator from Ohio, the task of playing Barack Obama's role. The former American commerce representative named by George Bush, well-versed in commercial negotiations, fulfilled his role with passion, striving to throw Romney off so as to better prepare him.
Over the course of these rehearsals, the Republican candidate has prepared himself to respond to Obama's eventual attacks on his personal wealth. "He keeps on beating me up, and I just go away shaking my head," Romney joked this week in Ohio.