So why is he having so much trouble making the sale with the Republican electorate?
Many of his allies and supporters are increasingly worried that the problem is Romney himself.
Until now, Romney and his well-financed allies have been able to dispatch any opponent who presents a threat by drowning the potential usurper with negative advertising.
But the fact that a new one emerges each time he vanquishes another betrays the existence of a deeper discontent with Romney himself.
“To be elected president, you have to do more than tear down your opponents,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former Romney supporter who on Friday defected to the camp of former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, the latest to emerge as an alternative to Romney.
“You have to give the American people a reason to vote for you — a reason to hope — a reason to believe that under your leadership, America will be better,” DeWine added. “Rick Santorum has done that. Sadly, Governor Romney has not.”
As Romney has adjusted tactically to a primary battle that is turning out to be tougher than he bargained for, some of his backers now say they fear that Romney is reinforcing the doubts that voters already have about him.
Businessman Peter Thomas, for instance, showed up at a Romney appearance near Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday, but admitted he is now leaning more toward Santorum.
“He’s more blue collar, his story,” Thomas said of Santorum. “He’s a straight shooter. He says what he means. He won’t drift in the wind.”
Repairing a candidate’s message can be as mystical an art as fixing a golfer’s swing. Especially in Romney’s case, where there are many diagnoses of what, precisely, is wrong.
“The worst thing is fake passion, where they take the same script and tell him to yell louder,” said Mike Murphy, who is Romney’s former political consultant and who remains in touch with the candidate.
One fundraiser, who did not want to be identified publicly criticizing a candidate in whom he invested, said Romney’s difficulty is connecting with people. Another one said it is inconsistency. Still another, incoherence.
There are those who think he should stick more to talking about the economy, and those who think he needs to broaden his emphasis to other issues, such as school vouchers, that motivate social conservatives.
An adviser, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he wished Romney would become more inspirational and less technocratic.
“Romney’s candidacy remains short on aspiration,” columnist Michael Gerson, who was former president George W. Bush’s chief speechwriter, wrote in Friday’s Washington Post. “His public appeal, at this point, is a combination of emphasizing his business experience, criticizing [President] Obama’s record and reassuring conservatives. This is a campaign — but not a cause.”