With just 50 days until the presidential election, the Romney team says it plans to reorient the campaign toward communicating more policy details regarding tax policy, energy policy, and foreign policy.
“We do think the timing is right to reinforce more specifics about the Romney plan for a stronger middle class,” said Romney adviser Ed Gillespie on a conference call with reporters Monday morning. Voters can expect, he said, more specifics on how Romney’s plans to expand domestic energy production and crack down on unfair trade policies from China will help the middle class.
“What we have found is that people want to hear a little bit more of that,” Gillespie said. “Not just to say that we have a plan, but here’s what’s in that plan. And so we think there’s a demand out there for that.”
Gillespie also said the argument will expand beyond the economy.
“Now, while we’re talking about this over the next few weeks, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan are also going to continue to discuss the developments in the Middle East and the need for strong leadership both at home and abroad,” he said. “Economic and foreign policy are both very important in this presidential campaign.”
Asked if Romney would be making a more ideological case for his candidacy or if the campaign would continue to be a question of Barack Obama’s competence, Gillespie said the two messages aren’t mutually exclusive. He hinted that the plan is to contrast more specifically not only the policy differences between the two candidates but also their respective leadership qualities.
“There’s also, I think legitimate concerns about leadership and the lack of leadership [from Obama],” Gillespie said. “We’ve seen that over the past week relative to people’s concerns about America’s leadership role in the Middle East. We’ve seen it in the Bob Woodward came out with, which is that the president did not display strong leadership from the White House in dealing with our fiscal crisis and the so-called fiscal cliff. So we think that both the leadership traits and the policy approach are important and we’ll be emphasizing both of those things.”
Gillespie said the new strategy will be deployed in speeches, events, background papers, campaign surrogate appearances, and in paid advertisements. This refocus will be seen, he said, in Romney's Monday address to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Gillespie also pointed to the campaign’s latest ads, which focus on the debt racked up under Obama and offers more details on Romney’s “plan for a stronger middle class.”
The tone and content of those ads echo the sort of speech Romney gave last week in Virginia, which offered a few policy specifics and kept the economic argument at the forefront.
But as CNN's Peter Hamby reported, the Romney campaign has plans to talk about other issues in some upcoming, high-profile speeches:
Romney has two major speeches being drafted for next week: One, at the Clinton Global Initiative, will illuminate fresh elements of Romney's foreign policy vision. Another, at NBC's "Education Nation" summit, will, naturally, focus on education policy.