Advice for Mitt Romney: 'Go rogue' and 4 other strategies

In many GOP circles these days, everyone's a Romney critic. But that doesn't mean they don't have good ideas to help his flagging campaign

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney insisted Sunday that he's running a "very effective campaign" against Obama that "doesn't need a turnaround." Not many people seem to agree with him, least of all Republican critics, who've been watching his latest travails with anxiety. Here, a look at some of the unsolicited — and apparently unwanted — advice being dished out by Romney watchers:

1. "Go rogue"

This bit of gratuitous advice is from — who else?— 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. In a statement to The Weekly Standard, Palin said that "with so much at stake in this election, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan should 'go rogue' and not hold back from telling the American people the true state of our economy and national security." Being Republicans, they are at a natural disadvantage, she added, so "they need to continue to find ways to break through the filter of the liberal media to communicate their message of reform."

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2. Let Paul Ryan loose

"To some Republican kibitzers, 'going rogue' means unleashing Rep. Paul Ryan," the young Wisconsin budget expert who has brought his conservative fiscal blueprint as well as "some pizzazz to an otherwise staid ticket," says Brad Knickerbocker at The Christian Science Monitor. Among such critics is Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who says he was "enthused" when Romney picked Ryan "because I thought that was a signal that this guy was getting serious, he was getting bold." Team Romney needs to deploy Ryan more strategically, Walker urges, and also "have more of him rub off on Mitt, because I think Mitt thinks [the Ryan] way but he's gotta be able to articulate that." Of course, given that the AARP just booed Ryan over his controversial Medicare plan and Romney's support on the issue is plummeting, "unleashing Ryan may not be the answer," says Knickerbocker.

3. Show some passion

Columnist David Brooks has been one of Romney's more vocal conservative critics recently, and on Sunday he diagnosed Romney's problem as a decided lack of "passion for the stuff he is talking about." He's "a non-ideological person, running in an extremely ideological age, and he's faking it." That won't cut it, Gov. Walker told Fox News Sunday. The GOP ticket has the right ideas, now "I want to see fire in the belly," with Romney "lit up and ready to go," he says. "I think you've got to get off the heels and get out and charge forward."

4. Vow to stay in Afghanistan

Obama is on track to get the last U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2014, and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and other GOP hawks are urging Romney to set up a contrast by pledging to keep forces in the country longer. "It's about getting it right," Graham tells The Hill, and Romney should ask the generals if they think Obama's plan is dangerous. "And if [they] need to change the timetable in Afghanistan, that is what we will do." That's admirable, says Rick Moran at American Thinker, but "Romney won't take such an unpopular political position in the midst of a presidential campaign."

5. Be yourself, namely a businessman/leader

If Romney wants to save his White House bid, the first thing to do is "forget all the personality transplant stuff," says Ed Rollins in the New York Daily News. "You are a nice man," but you won't beat Obama in the charisma department. "Embrace who you are. America wants a leader," not a drinking buddy. Oh, and "get out of your jeans and in a suit. Presidents wear suits. CEOs wear suits." Right, go ahead and "be a PowerPoint guy," like you've been "for the last several decades," says Brooks. Make a sales pitch to America: "You don't have to love me but I'm going to do... things for you."

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

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