It is not just Right Turn and foreign-policy hawks who are dismayed by the Romney campaign’s approach to foreign policy. It is clear that third-party groups favor a more aggressive message as well.

American Crossroads is out with a boffo ad, a hard-hitting and effective indictment of the Obama foreign-policy record:

Of course, it could have included the White House’s effort to blame the deaths of four Americans on the anti-Muslim video. But that’s not necessarily a criticism of the ad. It just goes to show in how many ways the president is vulnerable to criticism on his handling of the incident, and of foreign policy more generally.

The Romney team is mistaken, however, if it thinks that third-party groups or free media can carry the burden on this. An issue won’t break through the media noise and move the needle this late in an election unless the candidate himself moves it front and center in debates, ads, interviews and speeches.

There is time to do it, and it need not detract from the economic message. In fact, President Obama’s lack of seriousness, failure to lead and preference for fluff over results are endemic in both the foreign-policy and domestic realms. But Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have to make that case. If they want to win, that is.