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The strategy of Romney from Iowa onward so effectively mocked by Pete isn’t going to cut it. Romney is campaigning as if the election is his to lose, but in fact no study backs him up on that.

The election has to be a referendum on the incumbent for Romney to have a real chance: Obama has to be attacked directly and ruthessly on specific policy failings, and real alternatives that aren’t too scary and sound really smart have to be put forward. Jindal could help out on that front if he’s, as Pete says, giving the freedom to say real policy stuff.

So I’m more optimistic than in 2006, because Obama’s record really is pretty bad. But that fact needs to be sold to swing voters, along with the confidence that the alternative really is more competent. If Romney doesn’t CHANGE, he won’t win. And that’s why the cautious choices of Portmand and Pawlenty would signal that he’s not about doing what it takes to take out a formidable campaigner that lots of people kind of like despite it all. If you think Obama ain’t cagey, you haven’t noticed how he’s bought Bill Clinton off and gotten him on message concerning Romney the really rich business guy.

On Palin: I saw the choice as evidence that McCain really wanted to win. It, in fact, was. But the shameful way his guys mishandled Palin was plenty of evidence that they weren’t willing to do what it takes to win. I assumed that she had been thorougly vetted and was being prepared for months. I also assumed, based on the enthusiastic reports of Bill Kristol, Lowry, and such, that her “knowledge base” wasn’t as limited as it was.

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