The Republican campaign released a pair of new ads on Monday, one an attack against the president — suddenly the front-runner in a race that's long been neck and neck — and another that focuses on the Romney's proposals to boost the middle class.
The positive ad provides some details about how Romney will keep his oft-stated promise to create 12 million jobs via increased trade, deficit reduction, tax reform and help for small businesses. That's despite reports from independent economic forecasters who predict the U.S. economy is on track to create that many jobs anyway by 2016, with or without Romney's help.
In a conference call with reporters, Ed Gillespie, a Romney campaign aide, said the Republican presidential ticket plans to zero in on the specifics of their policy proposals with less than two months until the presidential election.
No new policies are to be unveiled, he added.
Voters "are eager to hear more details about policies to turn our economy around," Gillespie said. "We're not rolling out new policy ... (but) reinforcing more specifics."
That's something the campaign should have been doing all along, according to many popular conservative pundits who have been griping loudly about the campaign's direction in recent weeks. Those commentators, including George Will and Laura Ingraham, argue the Nov. 6 vote should have been a "gimme election" for Romney given the tepid economic recovery.
The situation didn't appear to be improving on Monday for Romney, despite his campaign's stated intention to regroup.
Romney was forced to appear at a hastily called news conference on Monday night after the emergence of a video, taken secretly at a fundraising event earlier this year, showing him dismissing Obama supporters as people who "believe that they are victims," live off government handouts and "don't care for their lives."
"There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them," he said in the video, posted Monday on the left-wing Mother Jones magazine's website.
Romney didn't disavow the comments at the news conference, but conceded they were "not elegantly stated" and were "spoken off the cuff." But he added Obama's approach is "attractive to people who are not paying taxes."
It was yet more trouble for a campaign that is rife with infighting and finger-pointing, according to an explosive new Politico.com report.
The online news outlet's Sunday night expose heaped scorn on Romney's "leading staff scapegoat," longtime Republican operative Stuart Stevens, courtesy of several unnamed campaign aides, advisers and friends of the candidate.
They blamed the chief strategist for everything from Romney's Afghanistan-free convention speech to Clint Eastwood's bizarre prime-time address and the candidate's ham-fisted, late-night attack on the Obama administration as anti-American violence erupted in Libya, resulting in four deaths, including that of the U.S. ambassador.
The report also focused heavily on how Stevens scrapped Romney's convention speech — already hastily penned by a respected Republican wordsmith who wrote it without ever meeting Romney — in favour of one written by him and the candidate at the 11th hour.
"Romney associates are baffled that such a successful corporate leader has created a team with so few lines of authority or accountability," Politico reported.
The report stirred up speculation that Stevens was on the chopping block. Those rumours were quickly dispelled by the Romney campaign.
And Stevens himself was front and centre as Romney's new ads were unveiled, telling Politico that the spots aim to define the election as "status quo versus change" and present Romney as the man with ideas and specific proposals to jump-start the economy.
He denied the campaign infighting was anything unusual.
"Like all campaigns, we have good days and bad days. I'm happy to take responsibility for the bad days," Stevens said.
In an interview with ABC News, Stevens also defended Eastwood's appearance.
"Listen, I think Clint Eastwood ... having Eastwood on your side and what he said about the president is incredibly powerful," he said. "He came out and gave a strong stance, and I think it was great."
Stevens argued that the Romney campaign is in good shape, and that Obama's post-convention bounce in the polls is withering daily.
"The president had a terrible week last week," said Stevens, referring to the violence in the Middle East. "If anybody turned on the TV and feels better about the president after last week, I'd be surprised to hear it."
Yet Obama is now ahead of Romney in public opinion polls, not just nationally but also in several of the crucial battleground states that will decide the election — Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Florida among them.
The Obama campaign came out swinging Monday against Romney's attack ad against the president on Chinese trade.
The new ad accuses Obama of failing to get tough on Chinese trade practices — an argument that the Obama administration quickly moved to minimize by announcing its complaint to the World Trade Organization about China subsidizing its cars and Chinese-made auto parts for export.
"You can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs," Obama said during an event in Cincinnati, where he unveiled the complaint.
"You can talk a good game. But I like to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. And my experience has been waking up every single day doing everything I can to make sure that American workers get a fair shot in the global economy."
Jen Psaki, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, told reporters on Air Force One that Romney had "a special kind of chutzpah that he is going to criticize the president on an issue that he has been such a strong advocate and fighter for."
Romney, meantime, made a fresh appeal to Latino voters Monday, telling the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce he would work with both parties to address immigration and push economic policies to help small-business owners.
He accused Obama of "playing politics" by pursuing a temporary measure to exempt from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Romney says he will pursue "permanent immigration reform."
Obama has said he pursued the temporary measure because Republicans blocked legislation giving a pathway to citizenship to the young immigrants.
Romney trails Obama badly among Latinos, the fastest growing demographic in the United States.
A daily tracking poll by Latino Decisions suggests Hispanic women favour the president by a whopping 53 percentage points — 74 per cent for Obama compared to 21 per cent for Romney. The Republican fares only slightly better with Hispanic men, with 61 per cent telling pollsters they plan to vote for Obama compared to 32 per cent for Romney.Suggest a correction