Romney’s focus on the middle class will carry into the convention at the end of this month. The national spotlight will shine brighter in Tampa than at any other moment in Romney’s campaign, and his supporters are betting that many voters will form their impressions of him then.
“To borrow a phrase, the convention has the potential to be an ‘Etch a Sketch moment,’ ” said Mark McKinnon, a longtime Republican image-maker who advised the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain. “Conventions often wipe the slate clean. A crucial bloc of undecided voters, though there aren’t many this year, will just start paying attention when the convention starts.”
Romney’s advisers are putting the finishing touches on plans to reintroduce the candidate to the nation. They have filmed new videos with Romney and his family at his lakefront vacation home in Wolfeboro, N.H., and are devising a prominent role onstage for Ann Romney and their extended family.
“Americans are going to get a real close look at Governor Romney, his wife, Ann, and the entire family,” senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters here Friday. “I think that they’re going to be impressed by the fact that this is a family that shares their values. He shares their values of hard work, of patriotism, of sacrificing so that the next generation has it better than the current one.”
For Romney, a big moment couldn’t come soon enough. Weeks of pummeling by Democratic ads depicting Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat and possible tax evader appear to have taken a toll.
Three national polls released over the past two days show Obama widening his lead over Romney to as much as nine points. The surveys of registered voters, all conducted between Aug. 2 and Aug. 8, also show Romney’s unfavorable ratings rising. Two of the polls show his support among independents slipping.
A Fox News poll found the largest deficit, with Romney trailing by nine points — 49 percent to 40 percent — the widest gap Fox has reported all year.
A senior Romney adviser played down the new polls at a news briefing Friday morning at Boston headquarters, saying that they must be midsummer flukes because there had been no “precipitating event” to move the numbers so much.
The adviser pointed to the latest Gallup tracking polls, which have the two candidates in a dead heat, as well as to Rasmussen, an automated poll that usually leans Republican and shows Romney ahead of Obama.
Bill Turque and Rosalind S. Helderman in Washington contributed to this report.