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Romney, Finding His Inner Christie Romney, Finding His Inner Christie Romney, Finding His Inner Christie Romney, Finding His Inner...

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Romney, Finding His Inner Christie

August 13, 2012

Watching Mitt Romney on the campaign trail this weekend after he tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate, it was hard not to be struck by how significantly the candidate's message and delivery improved.   Romney was newly energized, almost sounding like an evangelist preacher as he preached the merits of capitalism and the free market.   His rhetoric was sharp and specific as he contrasted his policy vision with that of President Obama's.  With Ryan, he looked confident in his sit-down interview with CBS' Bob Schieffer.  It was as if the ghost of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entered the cautious, often-awkward pol's body, to great effect.   (Indeed, like Christie, he even challenged a heckler at last night's event in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.)

This is the type of change that's very tough to measure in even the best polls and focus groups.  Romney overruled his top consultants in picking Ryan; they wanted him to go with a more cautious choice, like Tim Pawlenty.  But Romney clearly felt a kinship with the younger Ryan, and the chemistry was undeniable on their first couple of days on the campaign trail.  Romney felt unshackled, and felt free to play to his biggest political asset -- a fiscal conservatism that's been the one consistent hallmark of his career, from working at Bain Capital to the Salt Lake City Olympics to his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.

This carries risk, of course.  Romney's hallmark of his campaign so far has been his cautiousness.  Will undecided voters embrace the new unplugged Romney, or find it inauthentic?  And by branding the ticket as two bold truthtellers, the campaign is inviting close scrutiny of Ryan's entitlement proposals, which could overshadow the campaign's preferred broader narrative, of promising economic growth through fiscal reforms.

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