In his victory speech in Florida on Tuesday night Mitt Romney gave us the clearest preview yet of his general election strategy. He displayed magnanimity toward Newt Gingrich -- without naming him of course -- and his other vanquished GOP opponents, and then proceeded to deliver his familiar broadside against Barack Obama in the usual over-the-top-way.
Romney's attack on Obama, familiar by now, was so extreme--he's weak, he's incompetent, he's a European socialist (though the Europeans are now pursuing a Romney-esque austeritiy more than socialism) -- that all it did was to make you wonder: Is he protesting too much? Is he worried? Everyone knows by now what Romney's biggest general-election challenge will be. This problem has been clearly and consistently articulated by his GOP primary opponents--and none better than the hapless Rick Santorum, who has argued that contrary to Romney's assertions the similarities between him and Barack Obama are so legion that voters will simply decide: why change?
Hence Romney began his remarks by asserting that he and Obama have "very different visions of government," and resorted to his usual slash-and-burn bromides, no matter how erroneous they have been shown to be. He declared that Obama wants to hand over health care to government bureaucrats, in contrast to Romney (even though the health care law creates private-sector exchanges). He said more jobs have been lost and more foreclosures have occurred under Obama than any other president, when it's clear that many of those were set in train under George W. Bush. And on and on.
All this works for the primaries, perhaps. But will it really fly in the general, when the Obama camp points out the obvious similarities between so many Romney and Obama policies, starting with Romneycare? Or will Romney come across once again, as he has so often in the past, as inauthentic?