Byron York

And on that same day, there was Romney, addressing supporters in Golden, Colo., in front of a giant banner that said ROMNEY PLAN. In his remarks, Romney criticized Obama; nothing wrong with that. But he laid out his larger purpose at the very beginning. "Today, I come to talk about making things better," Romney said, laying out his plan. "If we do those five things, those simple five things ... you're going to see this economy come roaring back."

"This is the path to more jobs and more take-home pay and a brighter future for you and your kids," Romney added. "And I know that because I've seen it."

Romney was clear, sharp and focused. If he stays that way, he'll likely quiet some of his GOP critics, at least for a while.

But not forever, because there's something else about the Romney campaign that will likely keep Republicans nervous all the way until Election Day. Romney aides believe strongly that this race will play out like the 1980 campaign, in which President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan for much of the race until Reagan broke through just before the election.

That would fill many Republicans with anxiety and prompt them to offer Romney frantic advice through much of the fall. For example, recently a senior Republican lawmaker noted the Romney campaign's determination to stick to its long-term plan by asking: "Is it discipline, or is it stupidity?"

We won't know the answer to that until November. But even as he sticks to his basic strategy, Romney is still working to craft an appeal that will touch those millions of discouraged voters who don't believe things will improve. He appears to be making progress with plenty of advice from his own side.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner