Can Mitt Romney become the candidate of change?

Taking a page from President Obama's 2008 playbook, the GOP candidate promises "big change" if he's elected

Mitt Romney at an Iowa lectern outfitted with his new motto on Oct. 26.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency with a simple yet elegant message: "Change." Four years later, amidst a lackluster economic recovery, Obama is seeing that message used against him in the final days of the campaign. Mitt Romney has recently introduced a new theme to his stump speech: "Big change," an act of one-upmanship that may remind voters of Obama's tart accusation that Romney would "do the same things we do but say them louder." In rally after rally, Romney has repeated the phrase like a mantra, betting that weary voters are ready for something — and someone — different.

Is Romney a plausible change candidate? He is certainly promising a lot of change, vowing to "revamp the economy on a scale to meet" the country's great challenges, says Catalina Camia at USA Today. In his latest speech, he reiterated his dubious pledge to create 12 million jobs, while promising to "cut federal spending, keep taxes low, overhaul Medicare and Social Security, and curb rising health costs."

The Romney campaign also believes that Romney's focus on "big" issues will contrast sharply with Obama's relative small-bore strategy. "The president's campaign falls short of the magnitude of these times," Romney said in his latest speech. "He shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest — from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false."

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The Obama campaign obviously doesn't see it that way. "Romney has started promising 'big change,' but the only change Romney's offering is to take us back to the same failed policies that crashed our economy in the first place," said spokeswoman Lis Smith. Obama clearly hopes that voters see Romney's economic plan — a mix of new tax cuts and looser government regulations — as a generic Republican blueprint that didn't work well under George W. Bush.

Sources: ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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