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Romney‚??s strategy goes beyond economy


February 16. 2013 3:28PM


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DES MOINES, Iowa — For months, Mitt Romney has had one main focus — bludgeoning President Barack Obama on the economy.


Now, the Republican presidential candidate has started poking at Obama from all sides as he looks to gain ground. In recent days, Romney has criticized Obama in TV ads and speeches on topics that include farm policy, transparency, military voting rights, welfare reform and religious freedom.


"Who shares your values?" a new Romney ad asks — and suggests that Obama doesn't.


Republicans have spent weeks complaining both publicly and privately that Romney's economy-only focus wouldn't be enough to overtake Obama and that the certain GOP nominee needed to broaden his criticism.


Specifically, these Republicans have been pressing Romney to go after Obama in areas that resonate with party loyalists as the close contest approaches its final push — the sprint from the Republican National Convention later this month to the election in November.


"I understand the economy is the top issue, but you don't want to be so maniacally focused that you ignore everything else," said Keith Appell, a Republican consultant who advises conservative groups. "There's always a risk of becoming too focused — a horse with blinders — and not seeing some of the other things around you. Campaigns need focus. But there's something to be said for peripheral vision when you're trying to hold a coalition together."


The GOP, composed of advocates for smaller government, anti-tax activists, social conservatives and religious voters, long has been skeptical of the former Massachusetts governor and has reluctantly embraced him.


But, Republicans say, the candidate needs to ensure that these core Republicans work on his behalf in the campaign's homestretch, knocking on doors and making phone calls to get backers to turn out at the polls.


Romney, it seems, is heeding the advice, blasting Obama on issues that are certain to excite the party's conservative base.


Romney advisers, for their part, say all the issues Romney has been raising lately have aspects that appeal to middle-class voters and buttress the campaign's central pitch on the economy.


"That focus on the middle class has been here since the beginning," says Romney adviser Kevin Madden. Still, he acknowledges: "At this point in the campaign, we are sharpening it."


Romney also is trying to push past a foreign trip that was riddled with missteps and a long stretch of the campaign in which he was under withering, sustained criticism from Obama.




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