WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney, almost since the moment he announced for president, has oriented his campaign around a single issue: the economy, and President Obama’s handling of it. But with just 49 days to go in the presidential race, Romney’s campaign is attempting to broaden his approach.
Top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said on a conference call Monday it was time for “new emphasis and renewed emphasis” on Romney’s proposals. He cited energy independence by 2020, unrest in the Middle East, and cuts to the federal budget as items the campaign would be talking about in the coming weeks.
The expansion comes as the Romney campaign confronts the most challenging stretch it has faced so far, one that is testing aides’ loyalties, message discipline, and their ability to react to spontaneous events.
Recent polls have shown Obama leads Romney both nationally and in key swing states and voters now trust Obama as much as they do Romney in handling the economy. Top Romney campaign advisers concede that they have failed to showcase a clear message for why Romney should be elected, and have not communicated core positions in a way that resonates with the electorate.
“I’m not sure that voters really understand the differences between the plans that Romney has and Obama has,” Neil Newhouse, Romney’s chief pollster, said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “And I think that’s one thing we’re committed to trying to do moving forward is defining the differences between the two candidates on taxes.”
Romney plans to begin highlighting more specifics about his proposals, his advisers suggest, but it is unclear how much will be new and how much will be repackaged policies.
The first signs of the new plan came on Monday, when Romney released a pair of ads that attempted to offer more specifics than in the past, and when he spoke before the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.
But while the ads, and his speech, contained sharper language and utilized more numbers than usual, they didn’t include any fresh policy — and advisers said not to be on the lookout for any.
“We’re not rolling out new policy so much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here’s how we are going to get them done and these are the specifics,” Gillespie said.
Romney’s renewed effort came on the heels of a Politico story Sunday night detailing disarray in Romney’s campaign.
Much of the focus from internal sniping was directed at Stuart Stevens, a senior strategist who controls many of Romney’s ads and messaging.
“I’ve got a terrific campaign,” Romney said in an interview Monday with Spanish-language network Telemundo. “My senior campaign people work extraordinarily well together. I work well with them.”
He said there would be no changes to a campaign team that has contained the same core group since the outset.
On Wednesday Romney will be addressing a Univision forum where a large focus will be on immigration.
Next week, he will talk education during an NBC forum and discuss foreign policy at the Clinton Global Initiative. - MATT VISER
GOP foe gets intelligence briefing
LOS ANGELES — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has received his first regular intelligence briefing from the Obama administration during a stop in Los Angeles.
Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said the former Massachusetts governor met Monday with members of the intelligence community at a federal building.
Romney’s briefing lasted two hours.
The meetings are customary for major party candidates after their nominating conventions and require a security clearance.
The lack of intelligence briefings drew attention last week when Romney struggled to respond to a violent clash in Libya that left four Americans dead, including an ambassador. Before the deaths were confirmed, Romney mischaracterized the events in his initial statement and accused President Obama of a ‘‘disgraceful’’ handling of violence. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Another Akin makes another ‘rape’ remark
WASHINGTON — Open mouth, insert foot. You’d think by now that family members of Representative Todd Akin — the Missouri Republican who caused an uproar last month by suggesting that women usually couldn’t get pregnant by rape — would have learned to avoid rape metaphors. Not so.
Lulli Akin, wife of the US Senate candidate, has recently compared his abandonment by party bosses to rape.
In an interview with the National Journal, she first described the attempt by Republican Party leaders to get her husband to step down from the Senate race in Missouri as ‘‘tyranny, a top-down approach.’’
She went on to say, ‘‘Party bosses dictating who is allowed to advance through the party and make all the decisions — it’s just like 1776 in that way.’’ That, she pointed out, was when Colonists ‘‘rose up and said, ‘Not in my home, you don’t come and rape my daughters and my . . . wife.’ But that is where we are again.’’
Yes, back to rape.
It was Akin’s comments during an August TV interview about a woman’s ability ‘‘to shut down’’ to prevent pregnancy during a ‘‘legitimate rape’’ that caused the party leaders to reportedly try to elbow him out in the first place.
The congressman told a crowd in Nixa, Mo., last week that he had won a ‘‘legitimate race’’ in the primary and that his priority now is ‘‘to do the right thing.’’ - WASHINGTON POST