Salena Zito

Romney needs to find his inner Harry Truman for this. Rather than acting like a folksy fighter, though, he should tap into his chief-executive-officer persona -- with Americans as the shareholders he now will fight for, to "protect the bottom line" and "return the country to prosperity," both themes he already has embraced.

While Romney can never be a beer-drinking buddy, he can be the boss who has your back.

"It has been my experience that you don't have to be liked to lead but you do need to demonstrate you're not afraid to get down in the trenches and fight for me," said Curt Nichols, a Baylor University political science professor.

"People will get excited and follow."

Gen. George Patton, for example, made an art of appearing as aristocratic and eccentric as possible to his men, who nevertheless followed him enthusiastically because he was a fighter and a winner.

Art Sherwood was moved by Romney's speech on utilizing energy resources buried in Pennsylvania's northern and western corners. "For the first time in my lifetime this area is prosperous, and I am 73 years old," said the retired physician and lifelong resident of this town named for the Indians who once hunted and fished here.

In Pennsylvania, Romney has the perfect opportunity to be a fighter for energy opportunities. Embracing exceptionalism, he can tap into America's inventor and explorer traditions by pushing to use some of the money generated by coal, oil and natural gas to help finance research into new energy sources.

"That is one thing about Romney," said Sherwood. "You know he is the guy who has the country's back."


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.