“Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has described his disparaging remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes as ‘not elegantly stated.’ Now he’s calling them ‘just completely wrong,’” AP’s Hunt writes.
Politico: “Inside the campaign: Reinventing Romney.” (How many times has a headline been written about Romney not just in the last six years, but also in the last six months or six weeks?)
From the story: “In the afterglow of the Denver duel, top campaign advisers said Thursday that the reinvention efforts will include forthcoming ads featuring clips from Romney’s much-praised debate performance, and the increased behind-the-scenes role of two close confidants — Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who played President Barack Obama in debate prep, and oldest son Tagg Romney, who has subtly taken a more active role in the selling of a more likable version of his dad.”
More: “Early this week, top Romney aides began contacting friendly pundits and political allies in Washington about a new umbrella message for the rest of the campaign: what the campaign is calling ‘the choice narrative,’ posing a contrast between Obama’s policies in the past four years and what Romney would do in the next four. The construct is an effort to continue undermining Obama while responding to voters who in campaign focus groups have said they would like to know more about Romney’s policies. The frame is designed to acknowledge that many swing voters still like Obama as an individual, and also is aimed at elevating Romney and telling his story, now that the campaign realizes it’s insufficient to be ‘not Obama.’ Romney used that message as an organizing principle for his answers, and aides said Paul Ryan will do the same at his debate with Vice President Joe Biden next week.”
National Journal: “Trying the capitalize on the momentum after the first presidential debate this week, the Romney campaign released three new television ads on Friday focused on the Republican nominee’s economic plans. The campaign’s first 30-second ad, ‘Facts Are Clear,’ attacks President Obama on the nation’s debt and on job creation.” More: The other two 30-second ads focus on specific states. ‘Ohio Jobs’ shows Romney talking directly to the camera in a warehouse, saying he will challenge China on U.S. manufacturing. And: “The final ad features former basketball player Greg Anthony, who says that after voting for Obama in 2008, he is switching his vote to Romney.”
“The solid verdict for Mitt Romney following the first presidential debate — on style points, at a minimum — has pushed the Obama campaign to rethink strategy and the Republican team to reload,” the Boston Globe writes, adding, “How this performance, the most widely viewed event of the campaign so far, affects the race will become apparent in coming days as new polls are released in the key swing states where the president has built a lead. Another milestone in the campaign will be the release Friday morning of updated monthly jobless figures. But the debate disparity between Obama and Romney has prompted immediate rethinking among the president’s advisers and a reenergized push to build on momentum among Republicans.”
More: “A CBS News poll of uncommitted voters, conducted before and after the 90-minute debate, indicated Romney had made great strides in critical areas in the first face-to-face debate. Before the debate, when asked whether Romney ‘cares about your needs and problems,’ 30 percent agreed and 63 percent disagreed. After, the numbers flipped, with 68 percent saying Romney cares and 36 percent saying he does not.”
“A reenergized Mitt Romney joined forces with Paul Ryan in the battleground state of Virginia on Thursday evening and said the previous night's debate enabled voters to‘listen to substance,’ even as the Obama campaign began aggressively questioning the details of several of Romney's assertions,” National Journal reports. “ ‘People got the chance … to cut through all the attacks and counterattacks and all of the theatrics associated with a campaign, and instead they were able to listen to substance,’ Romney said as the crowd of more than 5,000 in this rural town west of Charlottesville roared its approval.”
About that tax deduction limit proposal… “Pressed during Wednesday’s presidential debate to explain how he would pay for the huge income tax cut he has proposed, Mitt Romney said he would consider a cap on the amount of charitable donations, home mortgage interest, state and local tax payments, and other expenses taxpayers can claim on their returns,” the Globe writes, adding, “Tax analysts said it is difficult to evaluate the idea, since Romney has provided few details and has tossed out several dollar figures as a potential cap. But critics say such a cap could be problematic in two significant ways: It would increase the tax burden on many middle-class taxpayers and it would not make up for the roughly $5 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years that would be lost in Romney’s plan.”
The Wall Street Journal notes that historically challengers have had difficulty sustaining the momentum of a good first debate performance.
The Globe also notes that despite Romney’s claims of bipartisanship in Massachusetts, important context is lacking: “Romney’s work on health reform was more an exception than the rule during his four years on Beacon Hill. Many Democrats who served in the Legislature during that time have described Romney as disengaged, treating lawmakers as if they worked for him and sometimes not bothering to learn their names.”
(In fairness, that distance sounds similar to criticisms of President Obama with those on Capitol Hill.)
Speaking of numbers that don’t add up… “Mitt Romney’s Medicare plan won’t try to control costs by limiting the payments that future retirees would use to buy private health insurance, aides say, adding detail to a proposal from the GOP presidential nominee that has both intrigued and confused many Americans,” AP writes. “Reining in costs is vital to keeping Medicare affordable, and in their plans both President Barack Obama and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, set limits on the growth of future spending. Independent experts say they doubt that Romney’s Medicare plan can succeed without some kind of hard spending limit; Romney campaign officials say the savings will come through competition among health insurance plans. ‘It sounds like Romney is trying to have it both ways,’ said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group advocating to reduce government deficits. ‘It’s a really important point whether there will be a cap. It will help determine whether the health care savings he’s touting are credible.’”