(LIN) – The nation is mired in 8.3 percent in unemployment. Almost 20 percent of the country is underemployed. With Congress in gridlock over plans to counter the strife, presidential candidate and former Mass. Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s business-like mentality and no-nonsense rapport seem to be striking the right tone with potential voters.
And Romney knows it.
Until recently, his strategy was to focus on President Barack Obama as much as possible, often opting to ignore the barbs of fellow GOP candidates.
"Three years ago, a newly elected President Obama told America that if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent," Romney said after his victory in the Nevada GOP caucuses.
At one point, Romney preempted an Obama economic visit to Florida when he released his “ Welcome to Florida ” advertisement. It blamed the president’s policies for the rampant foreclosures and high unemployment in the Sunshine State. Romney ended up winning the Florida GOP primary with 46 percent of the vote.
“I think (he's) the man that's going to get Barack Obama out of the White House,” said Romney supporter Greg Jennings , a 60-year-old retiree. “That’s the main thing.”
That’s easier said than done.
Before he can actually face Obama, Romney must figure out how to attract and retain the most conservative voting blocs. These same blocs are currently propelling former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. in a surging anti-Romney wave. In the latest three-state sweep, Santorum won Missouri, Minnesota and stole Colorado from Romney.
What should the former governor do to defend Santorum’s oncoming attack?
Stick to his guns…his financial ones.
Last valued at $270 million , the former governor has relied on his war chest through thick and thin.
Just ask fellow candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. As the GOP caucuses came to a close in Iowa in January, a Romney Super PAC, “Restore Our Future,” blasted Gingrich with an array of ads all over the state amounting to almost $4 million.
“I probably should have responded faster and more aggressively…If somebody spent $3.5 million lying about you, you have some obligation to come back and set the record straight,” said Gingrich , after he finished behind Santorum and Romney.
Romney shrugged off the attacks as typical politics.
“You got to have broad shoulders…you can’t spend your time whining,” he said in an interview.
Romney followed up Iowa’s second-place finish with wins in New Hampshire ( $1.2 million ), Florida ( $15 million ), Nevada ( $566,000 ) and Maine ( $0 ).
His losses were South Carolina ( $3.3 million ), Colorado and Minnesota ($190,000 ), and Missouri ( $0 ).
In Michigan, where one of the next two primaries will be held, Romney’s campaign and Super PAC are spending $2.6 million in advertising. But will that be enough to sway conservative voting blocs? After the polls close in Michigan on Feb. 28, we’ll have that answer.