Someone recently asked me what campaign advice I would give Mitt Romney if I were in his inner circle. Let me respond.
First, let me say that though I have been concerned that Romney has not been aggressive enough to date, we have begun to see a different side of him in the past few days. In response to Obama's indefensibly derogatory statements about business, Romney bolted out of his chair and delivered a spirited defense of entrepreneurship and the American spirit. It was an exceedingly welcome and gratifying development and one that I hope signals a new chapter in his unfolding campaign.
Perhaps Romney is more of a counterpuncher than a puncher, but I would respectfully urge him not to wait anymore for Obama to draw first blood. He needs to take the offense and keep Obama so busy defending his abysmal record on so many fronts that he doesn't have time to administer his ad hominem and disgraceful attacks on Romney's experience with Bain Capital, his alleged outsourcing or his rightly earned wealth -- not to mention spurious, despicable charges that he's a felon.
We finally saw a bit of fire in Romney's belly last week, and that will go a long way toward convincing voters that he is authentic and passionate, which will help energize the base.
Igniting the base is critical because this election is likely to be determined by voter intensity as much as it is by any other factor. The more passionately and earnestly Romney presents his message the likelier he is to inspire the base to donate to his campaign, to work the precincts and to show up and vote on Election Day.
Some have said he must stick to the issues and not make this personal against Obama. Well, perhaps that is so, but we shouldn't expect reciprocal respect from Team Obama, which has community organizing in its political DNA.
But though Romney shouldn't get gratuitously personal, he also ought not shy away from hitting Obama very hard on his record for fear it will be deemed to be a personal attack. John McCain made the mistake of soft-pedaling Obama's liberalism in 2008. Mitt must not repeat that mistake, and he must not cower in the face of false accusations that he is being personal or, worse, even racist. Let us not forget that intimidation and propaganda are the community organizers' primary currency.