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Charlie Cook thinks Romney is blowing it

“If I were a Republican, I would be very concerned” about Romney’s passivity while Team Obama defines him, Cook says.

In his weekly “Off to the Races” column, Charlie Cook is puzzled by Team Romney’s passivity while Team Obama defines him as a walking Swiss bank account. Writes Cook:

“The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

“The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs.

“The election is still more than three months away, and yet it has a different feel than it did just a month ago. Just as some Democrats in mid-June were starting to sound as if they were giving Obama up for dead, Republicans are now despairing. We have to remind ourselves that this election still has a long way to go. Each side will have up and down weeks, and there will be many twists and turns along the campaign trail—and that isn’t even allowing for some big, unexpected, Black Swan event that could always happen.

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“But, if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.”