Y’Know, Somewhere Along The Line Romney Figured Out How To Give A Speech…

…because tonight’s victory lap after walking off with Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and New York was impressive. Romney looked like a nominee, and a formidable one at that.

Commanding presence, great lines expertly delivered, savage – but polite – rebukes of Obama’s failure, and presidential in manner and tone.

(Link in case the embed doesn’t load)

Two questions ought to be asked. First, how come Romney didn’t make this kind of upward arc in his presentation four years ago? And second, how come he couldn’t elevate his game earlier in this cycle? The Romney who spoke tonight will bomb Obama like he’s Dresden. Where’s this guy been?

In fairness, it’s not wrong to say that Romney’s been coming on. He has. He’s been getting better ever since Gingrich destroyed him in that South Carolina debate. Prior to that, and perhaps shortly after it, Romney’s campaign was little more than a mud-slinging machine bent on burying his opponents with millions of dollars of negative ads.

But when Rick Santorum came along and at least momentarily showed Romney that he couldn’t win by drowning Santorum in mud, something definitely appeared to change. Romney began outlining policy positions which appealed to fiscal conservatives and free-market types. He began sharpening his rhetoric not just against Obama but for the traditional Reagan conservative message. He smartly stayed out of the social issues which ultimately became a drag on Santorum. And he presented himself not so much as the inevitable nominee, but the acceptable nominee – there’s a real difference between the two; the “inevitable” pitch tells people their opinion is irrelevant, while the “acceptable” one seeks to cultivate their agreement.

I’ll admit I haven’t followed the comings and goings in Romney’s camp, so perhaps he’s brought in some new people who engineered that adjustment. But whatever he’s done is working. This is a candidate who can earn election rather than relying on the failure of his opponent, and that was not true six, three or even two months ago.

Encouraging.

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