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Oodles of free advice for Mitt Romney as campaign seeks to right the ship

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 5:38 p.m. MST

Mitt Romney is not cuddly, but he certainly has a lot of people pulling for him simply by his choice of opponents this time around. Standing next to Newt Gingrich has a way of making you look sweet. Before and after Romney’s collapse in South Carolina last week, commentators, pundits and political operatives had loads of free advice for how to get things fixed. Here’s some of the more insightful, interesting and amusing suggestions.

At The Hill, http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/john-feehery/205921-advice-for-romney John Freehery offered a long list, urging Mitt to take a deep breath, ignore Newt, put your wife out front, bash China and tell a better story. For instance, he says, talk more about your father, “the man who should have been president.” Oh, and drop the business experience stuff: “Romney will not get elected because he has great business experience. Warren Buffett has been a pretty successful capitalist. So have Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg. That is not a sufficient reason to be president.”

Speaking of The Donald, some voices are calling for Romney to start acting like him. In South Carolina, former North Charleston http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/how-mitt-romney-can-turn-it-around.php Mayor Ken McClure, said Romney “needs to tell everybody he made a ton of money and he’s damn proud of it,” McClure said “You know he always fumbles around,” McClure adds, “I think he’s a little embarrassed about (the wealth) in front of a group of people.”

At National Review, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/289239/word-advice-charlotte-hays Charlotte Hayes was aghast when Romney criticized Gingrich for attacking the news media: “Note to Mitt advisers: Republicans hate the news media. Got it? And that goes double for debate moderators who try to entrap conservative candidates with trick questions.”

On CNN, GOP consultant Alex Castellanos urged Romney to own downsizing: “Next time somebody accuses him of closing down a steel mill he should say ‘Yeah, I'm that guy and you know what? I'd do it again. I'd hate to do it... I'd hate to do it, it would hurt, but somebody needs to go to Washington and I think I can replace most of these buildings in here with like three good web sites.’” To which http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/alex-castellanos-mitt-romney-should-brag-a Crooks and Liars responded, “Who hires this guy?”

http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Dwight-Eisenhower-s-Advice-To-Mitt-Romney Peter Robinson evoked the ghost of Dwight Eisenhower to remind Mitt that being smart and being right won’t get soldiers to follow you — or voters to vote for you. “A platoon leader," Eisenhower said, “doesn’t get his platoon to go that way by getting up and saying, ‘I am smarter, I am bigger, I am stronger, I am the leader.’ He gets men to go with him because they want to do it for him, because they believe in him.”

Conservative blogger Ace of Spades said that Newt was winning by tapping the unfocused anger of the base, which the blogger called “cheap date conservativism.” But unless Romney would rather be right than president, he needs to note what’s working: “And if Romney is half the businessman he's cracked up to be, he must realize the customer is always right.” In short, A of S argues that Romney needs to get behind the irrationality to address the legitimate fears driving the passion.

The common thread in much of this advice is this: own something, be bold, stop groveling, paint a vision and evoke the better angels of your electorate.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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