On one hand, a new opponent -- and a new state -- might rightly call for a new message. Obviousy, the contrasts that work against Huckabee are different than the contrasts that might work against McCain. (The Romney campaign emailed this story around, so they must believe getting the message out that Mitt now stands for change benefits them...)
Romney's new and improved message -- as debuted last night in front of a packed house at a community center in Manchester -- is simple: "John McCain is a creature of Washington and I'm not."
"Washington is fundamentally, at its core, broken," said Romney -- repeating the word "broken" seconds later for emphasis. "Sending the same people back to Washington and just have them filling different chairs is not going to change Washington. You need someone who knows how to change things."The line drew steady -- and spontaneous -- applause, a good sign for Romney.
... But on the other hand, doesn't changing messages -- especially when done so blatantly -- seem to underscore the negative narrative people already have about Romney? The negative stereotype has been that he is running a negative campaign based on focus groups -- and telling people what they want to hear at that particular moment? It reminds me of how George W. Bush -- after losing in New Hampshire to the reformer John McCain -- suddenly became the "reformer with results."
It worked once. Will it work again?