Player of the Week: Mitt Romney

This could be a crucial week for Mitt Romney’s bid to capture the White House. 

He has been put on the defensive by President Obama’s attacks on his record at Bain Capital, as well as for his unwillingness to release more tax returns.

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Notwithstanding the day-to-day political noise, it is noteworthy that Romney and President Obama are deadlocked in the polls with a little more than 100 days to go before Nov. 6.

The key for Romney is to repeatedly highlight the ailing economy. But the story recently has been about other issues, including immigration, healthcare reform and Bain.

There is speculation that Romney will soon announce his running mate — a move that would surely change the subject away from his business record and his tax returns.

But he will soon travel to the Summer Olympics in England with a stopover in Israel, a country Obama has not visited as president. 

A veep selection now would certainly change the subject from Bain, but it would also distract attention from the trip to Israel and thus drain it of impact. It would be seen as an obvious and perhaps desperate attempt to change the subject.

Many Republicans in Washington believe more strongly than ever that Obama is beatable. Yet they are also concerned that Obama has put Romney on the ropes again and again this summer. 

Some GOP operatives complain about Obama’s tactics, but complaint and demands for apologies do not amount to a dynamic winning argument. Politics is a blood sport — it’s hardly surprising that the majority of people are disgusted when they watch it — and being rough on opponents is how it is done successfully. 

This week and for the rest of the summer, Romney must define himself more clearly. In 2004, Republicans defined Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and made the election a choice rather than a referendum. 

Eight years later, that is exactly what the Obama camp is trying to do to Romney. Romney needs to change that, perhaps quickly.