Romney brushed aside questions about the state of his campaign in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Asked by anchor Scott Pelley how he planned to turn around his campaign, Romney responded: “Well, it doesn’t need a turnaround. We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent president [of] the United States.”
But the sensibility in Boston is also decidedly realistic. Some Romney advisers acknowledge that the burden is on the candidate and those around him to quiet doubters inside their own party and elsewhere, and to demonstrate that they have a compelling message, along with a strategy and the discipline to execute it.
The coming week will test whether Romney’s campaign can do something they’ve struggled with for many weeks, which is to deliver a coherent and sustained message across every possible platform — in their paid advertising, in what the candidate and his running mate, Paul Ryan, say on the campaign trail, in the digital world that now helps shape the conversation, and through the many surrogates used to spread and amplify that message.
Then comes the next test, which is the first of the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Advisers to both candidates see the Oct. 3 debate in Denver as the best opportunity for Romney to force a shift in the campaign’s dynamic, which has been running against the GOP nominee for the past three weeks.
Romney advisers now interpret the state of the race from two somewhat contradictory perspectives. On the one hand, they see national tracking polls that a week ago showed Obama in the lead immediately after his convention but that tightened dramatically after that. Other national polls give Obama a lead.
The other view of the race comes from recent polls in the battleground states that consistently show Romney running behind. Especially troubling are Obama’s narrow leads in Ohio, Florida and Virginia, all vital to Romney’s chances of winning. If presidential campaigns are really a series of state-by-state contests, Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes is far more problematic than Obama’s at this moment.
But Romney advisers see a rush to judgment about the state of the campaign by pundits and commentators, and they dismiss suggestions that the campaign has taken a decisive turn. That view is shared in Chicago among Obama’s top advisers, who believe they are in a stronger position than Romney but who expect the race to be close and hard-fought until November.