No more “Mr. Nice Mitt”

**Posted by Phineas

And it’s about time:

Standing before hundreds of roaring partisans in this sweltering Pittsburgh suburb Tuesday, Mitt Romney delivered a 30-minute speech that sounded, at times, like a greatest hits compilation of his favorite Obama-knocking stump speech lines. The president was, Romney said, “out of ideas,” and “looking for someone to blame,” and a “crony capitalist.”

One thing he was not: “A nice guy.”

In speeches from Des Moines to Dallas, Romney has always been careful to hedge his tough digs at Obama with a civil nod toward the president’s moral character: “He’s a nice guy,” the Republican has often said. “He just has no idea how the private economy works.” But Tuesday’s speech included no such hedge — and one campaign adviser said there’s a reason for that.

“[Romney] has said Obama’s a nice fellow, he’s just in over his head,” the adviser said. “But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he’s really disappointed. He believes it’s time to vet the president. He really hasn’t been vetted; McCain didn’t do it.”

Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney’s finances and business record, the Republican’s campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston’s pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a “liar” — very little will be off-limits, from the president’s youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.

“I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate,” the adviser said. “The bottom line is there’ll be counterattacks.”

The Obama campaign thugocracy has been trying to make hay with scurrilous class-warfare attacks on Romney’s record at Bain, his wealth, and even his integrity, flat-out saying he’s either a liar or a felon. They’ve desperately released another squirrel to distract people with by calling for Romney to release far more of his tax returns than required by law, implying there must be something shady in them, otherwise, why would Romney be so “secretive?” (Sadly, some conservatives are helping. (1)) Playing nice and trying to be a gentleman in response just won’t work. (See: McCain campaign, 2008)

The proper reply is to strike back, not with whiny anger, but to forcefully speak the truth about not only your own record, not only the other guy’s record, but the truth about his beliefs and character — why that makes him unfit and you fit for high office. Romney’s surrogates started this a bit on Sunday and Monday, but, yesterday, the candidate himself laid into Obama in a speech (no teleprompter) that had conservatives cheering as he attacked Obama for saying about successful business owners “you didn’t build that:

The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America and it’s wrong. [Applause]

And by the way, the President’s logic doesn’t just extend to the entrepreneurs that start a barber shop or a taxi operation or an oil field service business like this and a gas service business like this, it also extends to everybody in America that wants to lift themself up a little further, that goes back to school to get a degree and see if they can get a little better job, to somebody who wants to get some new skills and get a little higher income, to somebody who have, may have dropped out that decides to get back in school and go for it. People who reach to try and lift themself up. The President would say, well you didn’t do that. You couldn’t have gotten to school without the roads that government built for you. You couldn’t have gone to school without teachers. So you didn’t, you are not responsible for that success. President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success and I will change that. [Applause]

I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States. It goes to something that I have spoken about from the beginning of the campaign. That this election is, to a great degree, about the soul of America. Do we believe in an America that is great because of government or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams and build our future?

(Transcript courtesy of Ed Morrissey)

Emphasis added. That is the necessary ingredient when fighting back against Chicago-style gutter politics. The whole speech is at The Right Scoop. It’s well-worth the 30 minutes of your time it takes to watch; for once Romney is speaking with passion and conviction, seemingly off the cuff. Want to know how good it was? Even Michelle Malkin was near-ecstatic:

I believed in what he was selling: A vision for restoring American greatness and defending success.

Obama’s inability to hide his ideological contempt for entrepreneurs & individual success has helped Romney self-actualize.

If he gives this speech with the same zeal and optimism from now until November — offering a clear, unapologetic contrast to Barack Obama’s bitter politics of resentment, class warfare, and entitlement, Mitt Romney will win.

And there’s the key: this can’t just be a one-time or one-week strategy. Every speech he makes from now on, whether from a small-town bandstand before a dozen people or the podium of the Republican convention in front of the nation, has to strike these same themes. He can’t be afraid to call Obama out for what he is, nor to show proudly who he himself is. It’s what America wants to hear and wants to see in him — and not the defeatist, dependent, decline-is-our-choice crap Obama is pushing.

Do that, and I guarantee a Republican landslide in November.

(1) The whole tax return kerfuffle is just a lame distraction. Even if Romney turned over every single tax return he ever filed, Obama and the Democrats would demand more: Bain corporate minutes, Romney emails, his credit card records — anything they can use to fish for the least little thing they can spin as possibly suspicious, and just to plant the idea in the public’s mind that Romney is hiding something by simply making the demands. Instead, Romney should say he’ll release the returns — when Obama turns over his college transcripts, state senate papers, and the Fast and Furious documents. And then see how fast the Democrats drop this line of attack.

RELATED: The Tatler previews Romney’s next attack: Obama “has given up on job creation.” From Gateway Pundit, you know those infamous Bain layoffs? It seems the main in charge of Bain at the time was not Mitt Romney, but one of Obama’s most important donors. Ooops.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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