Mitt Romney on Tuesday nightPolitico's Reid Epstein explores how Mitt Romney transformed himself into the candidate who once tempered his criticism of President Obama by saying he was a nice guy to the candidate who now accuses President Obama of running a "campaign of hate."
For months, Romney held back on Obama, GOP strategist Rick Wilson said, because his team was holding out hope that it could reach independent and moderate voters. But Obama?s attacks on Romney?s Bain Capital career ? and Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter?s assertion that Romney may have committed a felony ? ended his inhibitions.Let's be a little careful here about putting on rose-colored glasses when considering Romney's campaign before this week. Ever since he launched the campaign, Mitt Romney has made the case that President Obama doesn't really understand what it means to be an American. Yes, he's said the president is a nice guy; but he's also accused him of trying to transform America into a foreign nation. And Romney was every bit as nasty to Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum as he is now to Barack Obama.
?When the Bain ads started to hit, it hurt him; being a successful business guy is at the core of what Mitt Romney is all about,? Wilson said. ?Mitt Romney was saying Barack Obama is a nice guy because his consultants were telling him to lie.? [...]
Obama?s July ad featuring Romney?s off-key signing of ?America the Beautiful? struck a nerve, but the last straw for them was an ad last week produced by the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action that implied Romney?s Bain Capital was responsible for the death of a laid-off steelworker?s wife, a Romney aide said.
That said, Romney is no longer trying to put a smiley face on his attacks. And one reason for that appears to be the fact that his political base loves the red meat:
On Sunday night, Romney received a rousing ovation in Wisconsin after he ad-libbed a line urging Obama to ?take your campaign out of the gutter.? It was clear, a Romney adviser said, that Romney?s crowds want harsher rhetoric about the president.If that's true?that Mitt Romney is actually basing his campaign strategy on how a Republican crowd reacted to one line at one event?then he's gone more unhinged than we can even imagine. Because if that's really the case, if that crowd is who he's using as his focus group, he's stone cold nuts.
?The reaction they got Sunday night really drove the change in tone,? the adviser said. ?I really think he?s kind of angry about how he?s been portrayed. I think ?Obama?s a nice guy? may not be a position he holds anymore.?