The mainstream media blitzed the Romney campaign with a slew of negative stories and polls today, some of which have been echoed and amplified by the conservative commentariat. Against that backdrop and calls over the past week for more policy specifics, the Romney campaign today hosted a media press conference to outline what it says will be the next phase of the campaign.
Senior campaign strategist Ed Gillespie led off citing statistics showing a deterioration of the economy under Obama’s watch: 46 million Americans now live in poverty, manufacturing has slowed, and gas prices remain high. Gillespie said that going forward, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will make a “strong push to outline the specifics of the Romney-Ryan plan to help the middle class.” Gillespie said that the plan includes reducing the federal workforce by 10% through attrition, tying federal pay to private sector levels of compensation, and consolidating federal agencies. When pressed for specifics on that last point, Gillespie allowed that the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the federal jobs training agency might fall under merger. He said that the campaign would propose more federal agency mergers later.
Gillespie also said that the campaign would continue to talk about the turmoil raging across the Middle East to highlight its differences with the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis.
Batting away some negative polls today, such as one from left-leaning Public Policy Polling showing an erosion of Romney’s position, Gillespie cited a Rasmussen poll the he said shows a 7-point in Romney’s favor, and a Gallup poll that shows a 4-point swing in his favor. Gillespie said that the polls show a dead heat everywhere.
So is today’s conference call and the new push to detail the candidate’s plans part of a retooling, a reset, or what? Gillespie says it’s just part of the natural progression of the campaign after both party conventions. Voters, says Gillespie, are just now locking in and looking for policy details to see how Romney’s ideas would make life better. The new policy push is not, then, any announcement of brand new policies, but an effort to provide more detail to policies that the campaign has already articulated. Citing high gas prices as a drag on the economy, for instance, Gillespie said that President Romney would approve the Keystone pipeline and lift the gulf oil drilling moratorium to move America toward the goal of energy independence by 2020.
An upbeat Gillespie said that “The more the [Romney] campaign emphasizes its differences with Obama, the better off it will be” with the voters.
More: The Romney campaign rolled out this new ad today to reinforce its more detail-oriented focus on the economy.