Romney Team Ponders How to Rise Above the Fray

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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BOSTON -- Mitt Romney sought to reassure contributors, supporters and party leaders on Wednesday that his bid for the Republican presidential nomination remained on track, convening a daylong strategy session at his campaign headquarters here to recalibrate and elevate his candidacy above the tedium of fighting for delegates.

Mr. Romney, aides say, has become too mired in the nuts and bolts of how to win the nomination rather than offering an inspiring argument for why he should. Trying to gain the upper hand and assert himself as the likely nominee, he is set to focus on his economic plan, spend more time with American workers and try to unite Republicans around defeating President Obama.

A day after the Super Tuesday contests added six more states to his winning record, including a narrow Ohio victory that spared him an even tougher round of second-guessing, Mr. Romney huddled with his advisers to address the deficiencies that have become clear during two months of rigorous campaigning. There were no immediate recriminations, aides said, but widespread agreement that he and his campaign must improve their performance.

"We're in a new phase of the campaign," said Matt Rhoades, the campaign manager. "We'll start to more aggressively highlight Governor Romney's plan to turn around the economy. We'll use speeches and more media hits to drive the jobs message against President Obama and his failures."

While Mr. Romney had hoped that a strong enough finish on Super Tuesday could persuade his Republican rivals to reconsider their candidacies, his aides acknowledged that the competition with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich could now last until June. His campaign held a briefing here on Wednesday, where advisers argued that Mr. Romney's lead in the delegate count has become nearly insurmountable, even if his opponents would not acknowledge that.

The aggressive posture comes as the Romney campaign braces for a challenging stretch of primaries and caucuses in the South and Midwest over the next two weeks, where voters in Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri will make their presidential preferences known. Aides were trying to pre-empt a narrative from hardening that Mr. Romney was struggling to connect with working-class and lower-income voters.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:09:36

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