For undecided voters, the speeches could open a window into what kind of Republican Romney is and what kind of president he wants to be. For conservatives — some of whom are skeptical of Romney’s dedication to the cause, even if they now support him — the speeches may reveal whether he will stay true to the beliefs he laid out during the primaries or, to use a metaphor introduced by one of his advisers, shake things up like an Etch a Sketch.
If Romney’s goal during the primary season was to keep from being pinned down on too many policy specifics to preserve wiggle room for the general-election campaign, he largely succeeded.
Education, for instance, was a nonissue in the primaries, and Romney said little about the subject except to advocate for more school choice and oppose teachers unions. But he announced a slate of education policy advisers Tuesday, including former education secretary Rod Paige and other appointees from President George W. Bush’s administration, and he plans to deliver an education policy address Wednesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
On health care, Romney has pledged that, on his first day in office, he would begin repealing the law that he and other Republicans call “Obamacare,” but he has not fully detailed what he would seek to replace it with.
“Primaries are the season of sound bites and dramas large and small, but as we move toward the general election, it’s crucial for the presumptive nominee to put meat on the bones, to fill out the profile and give the voter a deeper understanding of what the campaign is about,” said Terry Holt, who was a top official in Bush’s campaigns.
Romney’s speeches come as Obama tries to define his Republican challenger in a negative light by highlighting job losses incurred under Romney’s watch as a founder of a corporate buyout firm, Bain Capital, and as Romney offers himself as a problem-solver with the business acumen necessary to jump-start the economy.
In each of his weekly addresses, Romney has tried to draw connections from the subject at hand to his core economic argument.
“It all intersects with the economy,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said. “Obviously Governor Romney has made it clear throughout this campaign that his focus is on jobs and the economy, and now that we’re in the general election, he can more clearly lay out the different aspects of the economy as far as what his vision is and how he would approach those issues should he be president.”