Mitt Romney unveiled a more aggressive message toward President Barack Obama this week—in hopes of countering Democratic attacks on his record at Bain Capital. But GOP strategist Karl Rove still doesn't think the presumptive GOP nominee has been "presidential" enough.
In a column published in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, the former Bush White House adviser echoes criticism lobbed over the weekend by Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel that Romney has been "whiny" in his response to the Bain attacks:
The Romney campaign's response—which included whiny demands that the president apologize for his attacks—has unsettled GOP activists, causing them to wonder how prepared Mr. Romney and his team are for the mudfest they've entered. The attacks have drawn attention to the Obama campaign's demands that Mr. Romney release more years of tax returns. And they've allowed Mr. Obama to avoid talking about the continually bad economic news—the lousy June jobs numbers, last Friday's drop in consumer confidence, Tuesday's drop in retail sales and more.
The danger for Mr. Romney is that if these charges go unrefuted, they could discourage swing voters from going for him this fall when they decide whom to support. Therefore, Mr. Romney should challenge Mr. Obama directly—as he did effectively on Tuesday and Wednesday—but in a way that makes the Republican bigger and more presidential than the incumbent.
This is his opportunity to remind voters—in a tone of disappointment and regret, not anger and malice—that Mr. Obama's negative attacks will not put anyone back to work, reduce our growing national debt, or get America moving in the right direction. The attacks are more than just "misleading, unfair and untrue." They are proof Mr. Obama isn't up to the job and no longer worthy of the nation's confidence.
The public advice comes just weeks after Rove was a featured speaker at a retreat for Romney and his top donors in Utah.