As Mitt Romney tries to repair the damage done by the primaries — with the lowest approval ratings of any party nominee in history, according to one poll — he is trying to walk a contradictory line of reassurance: letting conservatives know he won't sell them out and letting moderates know he wasn't that extreme guy they saw in the primaries. He may have more latitude than we think, given the conservatives disdain for President Obama, but it's still tricky.
That's why I am fascinated by Romney's own "open mike" moment at a Florida fundraiser. Part of me wonders whether it wasn't staged — I have a hard time thinking that after what happened to President Obama in Russia, Romney's team isn't hyper vigilant about preventing such moments. With the exception of what he said about possibly ending the property tax deduction, much of what he said actually appeals to both conservatives and moderates. He said he would treat the federal government the way he treated some of his private equity acquisitions: as an entity in need of reorganization, if not re-invention. He said he wasn't afraid to take on the wealthy when it comes to taxes, saying he might get rid of the tax deduction for the very wealthy on second-home mortgages. Generally, both conservatives and moderates want to re-think government on a massive scale, and moderates, anyway, want someone who is willing to consider new revenues on the wealthy to close the deficit.
Why would Romney take the indirect disclosure route? I'm not entirely certain, but a leak or supposed gaffe often gets more attention than a policy speech. We have a fascination with what's behind the curtain.