The next day, Romney unveiled his first Spanish-language TV advertisement in South Florida. It’s an uplifting, even gauzy spot narrated by his Spanish-speaking son, Craig. The title: “Nosotros,” or “Us.” The message: In Mitt Romney’s America, anything is possible.
And, as in every other Romney ad, it ended with a black-and-white still photograph of Mitt and Ann holding hands on a windswept farm. Again, steadiness and warmth.
These are the ways, overt and subtle, that Romney is sharpening his brand. The Republican presidential front-runner’s immediate objective is to polish off his rivals by winning the next two primaries — Saturday in South Carolina and Jan. 31 in Florida. But with the race quickly moving beyond the early states, Romney also is trying to market himself to millions of voters in all the other states who are tuning in and forming their first impressions.
“As the megaphone gets bigger, you want to just continue that message that you’ve been building upon,” Romney adviser Russ Schriefer said. “This is ultimately going to be a contest between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama — the choice between what Mitt Romney will be talking and campaigning about and what Barack Obama has been doing, and competing visions for America.”
To many voters, Romney is an enigmatic candidate, and the battle to brand him is underway in South Carolina. The consequences are likely to ripple across the country and, if he becomes the nominee, set the terms for the general-election fight with Obama.
Some of the other Republican candidates are trying to create a devastating portrait of Romney. They are attacking his work founding and running Bain Capital, a venture-capital and corporate-buyout firm, by accusing him of prioritizing profits over workers. Supporters of former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) are airing a caustic documentary, “The King of Bain,” which depicts Romney as a greedy Wall Street raider who traveled the country slashing jobs, pocketing millions and having his shoes polished on airport tarmacs.
Romney’s campaign is trying to paint a dramatically different portrait — one of a caring family man with a deep and abiding faith in God and in America’s founding principles. The former Massachusetts governor presents himself as a conservative businessman who created thousands of jobs and repaired broken institutions, and as a stable and moral leader whom voters can trust at the tiller.