BOSTON – Mitt Romney, struggling to make up ground he’s lost to President Obama in the battleground states, has settled on a simple message for the closing five weeks of the campaign: We cannot afford four more years like the last four years.

But in a briefing call with reporters Monday morning, senior Romney advisers made clear the campaign’s message wouldn't be as simple as those 11 words. Indeed, it took several minutes for the advisers to tick through all the themes Romney intends to hammer as he makes a closing argument to voters.

The Republican nominee, his advisers said, will draw contrasts with Obama on debt and spending (“Are we going to make sure that our economy isn't saddled with debt?”), on taxes (“Are we going to encourage more growth?”), on creating jobs (“Instead of streamlining regulations, [Obama] created new ones”), on helping small businesses (“His policies left business owners dealing with more red tape”), on health care (“Obamacare is a massive one-size-fits-all mistake”), on energy (“The Keystone pipeline”) and on foreign policy (“Recent events have underscored President Obama’s policy of leading from behind”).


When a reporter asked whether Romney had a single clear, coherent message or a medley of micro-messages, the campaign advisers dismissed the premise of the question.

“We cannot afford four more years like the last four years,” said Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser overseeing the candidate’s message. “Whether it’s health care, energy, taxes and spending and debt, foreign policy, the message is we cannot afford four more years like the last four years.”

Kevin Madden, another senior adviser, told reporters Romney would deliver this message in Wednesday’s debate and at upcoming rallies, and that the campaign would amplify it in television ads and through surrogates and grassroots volunteers.

“This is a theme that we’re going to integrate across every aspect of our campaign,” Madden said.