In another bad sign for the Romney campaign, in recent weeks advisers have taken to anonymously attacking each other and leaking details of their strategy disputes. The latest campaign infighting dispatch focuses on how to handle President Obama’s shifting explanations for what happened in the Libya consulate attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. While some strategists argue that Romney should stick to his attack on the economy, one top adviser tells Politico that failing to take the opportunity to attack on foreign policy will be “one of these things that you and others who write the books are going to talk about.”
With both Republicans and Democrats questioning the president’s response, some in the Romney camp say that he should take this opportunity to “change the subject” of his campaign and depict Obama as a failure on domestic, economic, and foreign policy issues. “They’ll tell you that you’ve got to focus people on the fact that their economic prospects are not very good and all that,” said the top adviser. “Well, Romney’s been trying to do that now since he clinched the nomination at the end of April — and he’s failed. The president is better at deflecting attention from the bad news than Romney is at driving home the impact of the bad news on individual voters.”
Those who say Romney should stick to his economic message, including controversial top strategist Stuart Stevens, do have evidence to back up their position: Internal polls have found that voters aren’t particularly concerned about foreign policy.
It seems that Romney is siding with those who want to keep hammering Obama on the economy, though Politico reports that he’s planning to deliver a major foreign policy speech sometime after the debates. He’ll continue to mention Libya as part of his larger attack, but it’s unlikely that it will become the focus of his campaign. For Romney the upside to the news that Americans aren’t paying that much attention to the situation in Libya may be that they’ve forgotten his own flub in the hours after the attack, and he doesn’t need to remind them.