By Rich Johnson, Fox News Radio Senior National Correspondent who followed Romney on the campaign trail last week.
A waffler. Plastic. No soul. Too deliberate. Too smooth. Those are just a few of the criticisms of his campaign style that Mitt Romney has endured for months. Last week in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Romney took huge steps in dispelling those blasts, and setting his personal tone for the rest of the campaign.
Last Tuesday in the Pittsburgh suburb of Irwin, Romney went straight after President Obama’s ill-expressed comment about government and business.
(Romney) “President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama, we have less success and I will change that.”
Romney mixed blasts for the President with some very general comments about his five immediate goals upon taking office.
The crowd of some 700 endured blistering heat and thorough security screenings to see and hear their candidate, but they say it was worth it.
(Romney Supporter) “I thought it was an outstanding speech. We finally got some positions.”
(Romney Supporter) “It was great. Yeah, wonderful.”
(Romney Supporter) “I don’t know what I would do if he doesn’t win, I’ll tell you the truth.”
The next day in Bowling Green, Ohio, Romney pretty much repeated the same speech, with one addition:
(Romney) “In the last six months, he has held 100 fundraisers. And guess how many meetings he has had with his Jobs Council? None. Zero.”
Romney didn’t mention how many fundraisers he’s held this year. FOX News Channel’s best estimate is around 45 since the end of January.
Also not mentioned; tax returns. Romney’s released his records for 2010, and says he’ll release his 2011 return once it’s finished (he’s filed for an extension).
Democrats, and many Republicans, are calling on Romney to release several years of returns. But the faithful in Bowling Green don’t care.
(Romney Supporter) “I don’t know what the big deal on it is.”
(Romney Supporter) “He has already given us two of them. That’s enough for me.”
(Romney Supporter) “If what Romney did was legal, then it’s fine. You know, no one’s accusing him of doing something illegal.”
As in Irwin, the Bowling Green crowd fed off Romney’s unprecedented energy.
(Romney) “We are going to take back Washington. We are going to save the country. We’re going to get this economy going. We’re going to fight for the soul of America. We’re going to celebrate success and achievement. We’re going to keep America the hope of the Earth. Thank you so very much! Great to be with you! Thank you!”
But in politics, momentum is vital. And Mitt Romney’s in danger of losing that enthusiasm bump he created last week when he heads overseas later this week.
Romney’s scheduled to visit the London Olympics, Israel and Poland in the next few days.
LISTEN to some of Rich Johnson’s reporting on the road with Mitt Romney: