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Seven weeks before the election, campaign aides say Romney plans to release a new batch of TV ads, re-focus his campaign appearances on his five-point economic plan and make a series of speeches aimed at offering voters a more concrete outline of his plans for the country.
The shift comes as Republicans openly fret about the state of their nominee’s campaign and press Romney to give voters a clearer sense of how he would govern. It also comes as polls show Obama with an edge nationally and in key states, and amid reports of infighting at the Boston-based campaign.
The new ads will highlight Romney’s plan to create 12 million jobs, cut the deficit and allow the nation to become energy independent. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, will focus on the debt and deficit in a series of campaign appearances. It’s all aimed at giving voters a clearer picture of what Romney would do as president, advisers said.
With the new push, Romney is looking to put behind him a turbulent week that saw him stumbling to respond to an ongoing crisis in the Middle East. And he’s spent hours preparing for debates, mindful that they may be his last best hope of overtaking Obama.
Romney advisers spent the weekend in Boston hashing out a plan to right his struggling campaign. On Monday, top advisers planned to explain how the campaign would change tact as the candidate himself began a major push to Hispanic voters.
The new ads — one called “The Romney Plan,” the other attacking Obama as bad for middle-class families — show Romney doubling down on his core rationale for running: the notion that he can fix the nation’s dour economy given his decades of work in the private sector.
The push comes after a new poll by The New York Times and CBS News found that Romney had lost his longstanding edge to Obama on who voters say is most likely to restore the economy and create jobs.
The new strategy represents an attempt to change the dynamics of the race in the few weeks before the first debate on Oct. 3.
That was starting with a speech Monday to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, where Romney planned to outline his long-known specific plans for spending cuts, Medicaid and reducing the federal workforce.
The strategy shift comes as some Republicans worry Romney may be starting to let the campaign get away from him, while others push him to explain more clearly what he would do as president.
Republican concern that Romney’s campaign was making mistake after mistake was followed by reports of an organization in disarray. Trouble began with Clint Eastwood’s rambling conversation with a chair on the final night of the Republican convention, right before Romney’s keynote address omitted the war in Afghanistan or a thanks to the troops serving there.
The intervening weeks have been scattered. Romney ducked battleground states as he hunkered down in Vermont for debate preparation, then spent days defending his decision to omit war from the speech. Polls showed the Democratic convention gave Obama a boost.
Then violence erupted in Egypt and Libya, prompting Romney to put out a statement criticizing the Obama administration before it was known that an American ambassador had died in the attacks. Romney doubled down on his criticism in a press conference the next day.
That drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans alike. Several in his party, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, have urged Romney to give a major foreign affairs speech laying out his critique of Obama.
Romney’s team had planned to try to shift the tide by working harder and spending more on TV. The campaign released a flight of ads for different states during the week of the Democratic convention, but later replaced almost all of them with the same ad attacking Obama’s record on China. That was just last week; the new pair of ads comes Monday.
The new push follows a Sunday story on the Politico website detailing infighting among Romney’s senior staffers. Campaign advisers worked to downplay those tensions, and to insist the campaign is still on track.
“Obama’s entire foreign policy is in flames. The economy is terrible. Let’s get a little distance from the convention,” top strategist Stuart Stevens wrote in an email Sunday morning.
In Los Angeles, Romney was opening a fresh appeal to Latino voters on Monday, looking to narrow Obama’s advantage with them in key battleground states.
Thomas reported from Los Angeles.
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© 2012 The Associated Press