This may not come naturally to Romney, but we know he can do it. Recall that during the GOP primaries Romney initially followed a strategy of staying above the fray. Instead of trying to win, he waited for his opponents to lose. Romney focused on his business experience, while Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain imploded in sequential fashion.
But then in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich refused to follow suit. Like Obama today, he ran ads showing laid-off workers blasting Romney for cutting deals that cost them their jobs. Like Obama today, he demanded Romney release his tax returns and demanded to know what he was hiding. Romney absorbed blow after blow and failed to fight back — and as a result suffered a devastating defeat in the Palmetto state.
It was only when Romney realized his White House chances were fading that he finally took the mitts off and went on the offensive against Gingrich. He branded Gingrich an “influence peddler” who spent “15 years in Washington on K Street” advising clients like the discredited mortgage giant Freddie Mac. He declared Gingrich “erratic” and questioned his competence for the Oval Office. He defined Gingrich as a “failed leader” who resigned his speakership “in disgrace.” It worked. Romney won decisively in Florida, and went on the secure the GOP nomination — in large part because Republican voters finally saw a candidate who was willing to fight and who they believed could go toe-to-toe with Obama in the fall.