The new Romney campaign ad in New Hampshire is just fine. It’s almost good. In Carter’s words, it’s “workman-like.”

After an election, every winning campaign is declared to have been brilliantly conceived and executed. It is said that we have witnessed true political genius. In the Romney campaign, we may be witnessing a truly well-designed and well-executed campaign. Too often, campaigns and pundits only want to tell you what the plan was after they know the outcome. In Romney’s case, he appears to have a plan designed to compensate for his own weaknesses, to highlight his strengths, and avoid distractions.   

His campaign has shown great discipline and sure-footedness. Romney has not been dealt a particularly strong hand. His challenges and negatives are well-documented, but he hasn’t overexposed himself and let those negatives drive his campaign. In other words, he has truly stayed “on message.”  This ad represents more of the same from the Romney campaign. 

Its quality is fine, it is tough on President Obama without being shrill, it sticks to an economic message that is Obama’s weak spot, and it doesn’t play to Romney’s stereotype of being too polished or looking too much like a game show host. The ad opens with grainy images of Obama, and it uses Obama’s own words to highlight his administration’s economic failures.  The images are fragmented and there is a cacophony that almost makes the President hard to hear. Then Romney clearly and succinctly appears on the screen with a strong voice and images that highlight manufacturing, and the ad closes with Romney standing in front of a banner that includes the phrase “Cut the Spending.” It touches all the right buttons and has all of the right images. 

Romney has resisted what almost every other campaign has done; his opponents have wandered into every issue in the headlines. He has resisted the clamor to participate in every media opportunity or topical headline that has come along, he hasn’t made many headlines of his own, and he hasn’t felt compelled to declare how he would vote on every piece of legislation in the past two years if he were a member of Congress. He has stuck to what appears to be a plan.

 It is yet to be seen whether or not he can capture and develop an emotional foothold in the party. He still lacks enthusiasm among the rank-and-file, and he has been unable to represent the frustration and anger that many Republicans and independents are feeling. But even that may be part of a plan, that Romney thinks that even the angry and frustrated want some relief, rather than someone who just joins in the angry malaise.