When Romney picked Paul Ryan last weekend, the message was that the campaign was now going to rise above the petty and personal that had dominated the summer, and instead be about ideological choices, the size of government, the direction of the country, big priorities ... Right?
Not so much.
On the trail in Iowa, President Obama elevated the debate. If by elevating you mean mocking Romney's, er, lofty decision to strap the family dog on the roof of the car over 20 years ago.
"Governor Romney even explained his energy policy," said Obama. "He said you can't drive a car with a windmill on it. That's what he said about wind power, you can't drive a car with a windmill on it. I mean, maybe he's tried it. He's put other things on the roof."
At a rally in Virginia, Joe Biden, ahem, rose to the occasion as well, by describing Romney's decision to repeal Obama administration financial reforms.
"He said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y'all back in chains," the vice president told the crowd.
Obama and Biden were about as subtle as a pitcher throwing a fast ball under the batter's chin
So, why the brush back by Team Obama?
They've got Romney on the ropes - his negative ratings are up and his polling numbers in some key battleground states are down. They can't afford to let him get off the mat.
How does Romney respond? With a white board - laying out in painstaking detail the difference between his Medicare plan and the president's
That's a swing and a miss -- we know how well that approach worked out for Ross Perot.
Team Romney may need to transform Paul Ryan from budget nerd to street fighter.
At least we know he's got the muscle to do it.