After a difficult week that sparked a wave of Republican hand-wringing, Mitt Romney’s campaign team fought back on Monday against a report of disarray in his inner circle and promised to retool his message with more specifics of his policies.
Senior adviser Ed Gillespie struck an optimistic tone despite the Republican worries, saying President Barack Obama’s post-convention bounce in polls had faded and the race for the White House had tightened again ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
The campaign dismissed a Politico report on Sunday night that portrayed a chaotic Romney inner circle led by chief strategist Stuart Stevens, who it described as “the leading staff scapegoat.”
A senior Romney adviser described it as “a silly process story.” But the report raised fresh questions about Romney’s management of a gaffe-plagued campaign that has missed opportunities to take advantage of a struggling economic recovery and lingering high unemployment.
The questions are particularly pertinent for Romney, the former head of a private equity firm who has made his managerial and economic experience the centerpiece of his campaign to boot Obama from the White House.
Most polls have shown Obama taking a solid lead in the race against Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, but Gillespie focused on Monday on a Rasmussen tracking poll showing Romney moving back into a slight lead.
“The post-convention bounce has faded already and is fading for the president,” Gillespie told reporters. “If you look at polling for Romney swing states around the country we’re looking at a dead heat virtually everywhere in the target states.”
Gillespie also said Romney would begin to be more specific about his policies, although he denied it was in direct response to conservative criticism last week that he had not directly engaged Obama in a battle over specific ideas.
“We do think the timing is right at this point to reinforce more specifics about the Romney plan for a strong middle class,” Gillespie said, describing the shift as a “natural progression” as voters pay more attention to the race.
“They’re eager to hear more details about policies to turn our economy around and create 12 million jobs in his first term,” he said.