No matter what campaign tactic Mitt Romney chooses, it's the wrong one. A July 12 New York Times headline reads: "Romney Faces Calls to Deliver Counterpunch." Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Parker began their front-page "campaign memo" relaying concerns from the GOP that he is not counterattacking Obama:
Mitt Romney and his team of advisers built a reputation during the Republican primaries as tough street fighters skilled in the tactics of political warfare. They quietly took pride in tearing apart Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and the rest of their rivals.
The aggressive posture ultimately became one of Mr. Romney’s selling points, particularly among conservative voters who were searching for the candidate tenacious enough to take out President Obama in the general election.
But now, even with polls suggesting he is battling Mr. Obama to a draw at this stage of the race, Mr. Romney finds himself confronting concern that he is not nimble and aggressive enough to withstand the Democratic assault against him.
That has stirred worries among some Republicans that Mr. Romney is allowing himself to be defined by the Obama forces and that he lacks the kind of powerful counterpunch the base of the Republican Party is craving.
Compare that to the Times' s April 26 headline: "Allies Urge Romney to Shift to Positive Campaign." Michael Barbaro wrote:
Republicans have a message for Mitt Romney: it’s time to go positive.
Prominent party leaders, unsettled by the frequently combative tone of Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign, are pressing the presumptive Republican nominee to leaven his harsh criticism of President Obama with an optimistic conservative vision that can inspire the party faithful, appeal to swing voters and set out a governing agenda should he win in November.
Their worry: that the angry tenor of the Republican primary season could carry over into the general election, leaving Mr. Romney trapped in a punch-counterpunch campaign that would limit his ability to define fundamental differences with the Democrats. In interviews, these Republicans said that Mr. Romney must focus more on what he is for, not just what he is against.