There’ve been indications lately that Mitt Romney’s campaign no longer believes it will be enough to depend on widespread economic anxiety for a November victory – that too many swing voters like Barack Obama too much and are too willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because of the catastrophe he inherited.
If this is the Romney team’s new thinking, the speech the GOP nominee delivered last night didn’t reflect it. It was perfectly scripted for a candidate who is confident that the basic dynamics of the race favor him and who sees boldness, specificity and unforced errors as his main obstacles on the road to the White House.
I’ve written before about Romney’s desire to function as a generic candidate, someone likable and competent enough to swing voters who are inclined to vote out President Obama and who lacks any sharp edges that might give them pause. His acceptance speech was as broad and formulaic as this strategy. As Jonathan Bernstein put it:
Everything in it was perfunctory: the biographical section (which was weirdly interrupted by a digression into Neil Armstrong and the space race and by a call-out to every elected Republican woman they could scrape up — the whole thing seemed to have a case of attention deficit disorder); the five-point economic program; the foreign policy section; the stirring rhetoric at the end; and, certainly, the delivery.
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