Mitt Romney employing new strategies for 2012 election

Published: Saturday, March 5 2011 10:00 p.m. MST

Mitt Romney spent Saturday night in a small New Hampshire town demonstrating some of his central campaign strategies — several of which constitute significant departures from his campaign tactics during the 2008 campaign.

The New York Times was on hand to cover Romney's speech to approximately 300 people at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett.

STRATEGY 1: Emphasize his economic bona fides.

Mr. Romney makes the case, in private meetings with business owners and in appearances like a dinner speech here Saturday, that the halting economic recovery — even after solid job growth in February, the unemployment rate remains at 8.9 percent — provides a compelling rationale that he is the strongest candidate to create jobs and take on President Obama. (italics end)

STRATEGY 2: Attack President Obama, not fellow Republicans.

In the early maneuvering for the 2012 race, Mr. Romney has aimed his fire at Mr. Obama rather than any of his prospective Republican rivals, attacking the president as a weak leader who pursued a European-style big-government agenda for his first two years in office instead of focusing on jobs. "The president points out that he inherited an economic crisis," Mr. Romney (said). "He did, and he promptly made it worse." (italics end)

STRATEGY 3: Appear relaxed.

Mr. Romney is trying to present a more relaxed image to combat impressions that he is unapproachable and stiff. He has not been seen in a necktie for months — not in television appearances, meetings with donors or political dinners, including the one Saturday evening, where he was one of the few men wearing an open-collared shirt. (italics end)

STRATEGY 4: Keep it low-key.

To avoid the risk of overexposure and early scrutiny, he is operating in a cautious, low-key fashion, building allies among Republicans by doling out money to candidates from his political action committee and testing themes on donors and other supporters with limited news coverage. (italics end)

STRATEGY 5: Delay official declaration of his candidacy.

As he mingled with Republicans here, Mr. Romney offered no hints about when he intended to formally open his candidacy. Delaying an announcement, his aides believe, postpones a bull's eye that accompanies being perceived as a front-runner. Yet he has a fully formed campaign apparatus and national fund-raising network ready to fire up whenever he gives the signal. (italics end)

STRATEGY 6: Tell the obligatory Charlie Sheen joke.

He devoted only a few moments of his speech to health care and tried to lighten the mood, saying: "You may have noticed that the president and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts health care than 'Entertainment Tonight' spends talking about Charlie Sheen."(italics end)

Other media coverage of Romney's speech included:

USA Today: "Pushed by Obama and his rivals, Mitt Romney talks about that health care plan"

Politico: "Mitt Romney's prescription for 'Obamacare': Repeal it"

Boston Globe: "In N.H. visit, Romney takes Obama to task on economy"

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