A recent Fox News story reports that Romney and Ryan are both beginning to emphasize a bipartisan message rather than sharpen the contrasts between Obama's manifest failures and their plan for America. They must not follow this suicidal path.
Now is not the time for them to go all John McCain on us and downplay what Obama has done or to apologize for their own winning message. In the campaign's homestretch, they must bring more passion and urgency. It's not enough to calmly assure the American people that they'll do better. They must convince them they believe with every fiber of their beings that the nation, as we know it, would not survive four more years of Obama's assault -- that unless Obama is defeated, their children will not enjoy the same America they have enjoyed.
Their message should be: Sure, President Obama inherited a tough economy. But enough already. He knew and stated how bad it was, and he promised that if we implemented his agenda, the economy and debt would vastly improve. He implemented his agenda, yet the economy is still doing terribly, and the debt is dramatically worse. He still refuses to accept responsibility for his failures. He has no new ideas and offers the same failed policies and promises nothing but prolonged malaise if he's re-elected. Under a second Obama term, we'd experience catastrophic financial collapse.
Romney/Ryan rejects the defeatist idea that economic malaise is inevitable. Historically, the worse the recession the stronger the recovery, except with Obama, who has given us the worst recovery in 50 years. Romney/Ryan would implement tax and entitlement reform that would spur economic growth and greatly reduce our deficits and debt.
The shorter version should be: Obama is bearish on America. Under Obama, we'd fail. Romney is bullish on America. Under Romney, we'd get America back.
Millions of Americans abhor what Obama has been doing to the nation they love. Many didn't pay enough attention when he promised to fundamentally transform the nation, but they're paying attention now, and they're horrified and outraged. Most assumed he meant he would advance policies to turn the economy around. They never imagined he would turn the American dream on its head, from "if you work hard in America, you can make something of yourself and succeed" to "the system is rigged such that those who have succeeded haven't earned it ('you didn't build that') and will be forced to give more to others."
Obama is obliterating the promise of equal opportunity for all, exploiting class, racial, gender and ethnic divisions, destroying our domestic energy industry, demonizing business, smothering the private sector, shoving Obamacare down our throats, giving us double-digit actual unemployment, bankrupting the nation and pushing America toward decline.
Romney must make Obama own his failures. For starters, Romney must unpack this horror picture known as the most recent jobs report. Though the nominal unemployment rate went "down" to 8.1 percent, when you factor in those who've quit looking for a job, actual unemployment exceeds 11 percent.
As Mortimer Zuckerman wrote in The Wall Street Journal, 8 million people are no longer counted as unemployed, because they are no longer looking for a job. The economy only added 96,000 jobs last month; the monthly average for 2012 had been 139,000. A staggering 5.2 million have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. Though our population has grown by 31 million since April 2000, we now have fewer people working. Our employment numbers are way worse off than they were when the recession began at the end of 2007.
In addition, millions more are on food stamps and Social Security disability, and millions fewer are paying any federal income taxes in Obama's America.
Obama, in consciously choosing to adopt the Jimmy Carter vision of malaise and resigning himself to America's inevitable decline, has thrown Romney a high-hanging curveball, and Romney must oblige him and knock it out of the park, with an abundant dose of optimistic, winning Reagan conservatism.
Experts are saying that Romney must give more specifics about how he would turn the economy around. Yes, he and Ryan have detailed plans and must communicate them. But it is equally important that they present their competing vision. They must underscore their pride in America and their commitment to the American idea and American exceptionalism. They can and will turn things around. Our best days are still ahead.
Above all, Romney/Ryan must not sell the American people short and assume they can't handle the truth. Hit them between the eyes with it and they'll return you a decisive victory.