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Inside the Beltway: Big, bold Romney

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign stop on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in Bowling Green, Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The new-and-improved, less-kind, less-gentle Mitt Romney has emerged on the public’s radar following his vigorous speeches in Pennsylvania and Ohio that dashed President Obama’s theories on employment and the economy right onto the dais. Journalists and pundits quickly unleashed accolades and admonishments, seeking to make sense of the feistier Republican candidate, and the repercussions of his sudden change. The phenomenon has spawned numerous questions: Will the bolder Mr. Romney now take a risk when picking his running mate? Will his newfound inner mettle inspire him to ask, say, Sarah Palin and Rep. Ron Paul to speak at the upcoming Republican National Convention?

We’ll see. Meanwhile, here are the most popular adjectives among journalists describing Mr. Romney’s current style: fiery, blunt, free-wheeling. And among the many reviews of his speeches:

“Romney gets his groove back” (Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin); “If Romney keeps delivering the energetic, passionate, pro-freedom speech he just gave in [Pennsylvania] to the rest of the USA, he will win (Michelle Malkin); “Mitt Romney is starting to give anxious Republicans just what they want, moving from a defensive crouch over attacks on his Bain Capital record and launching a broadside against President Obama over the issue at the heart of the 2012 race — jobs.” (FoxNews.com editorial); “Romney’s offensive returned the presidential campaign to a debate about policy, and not about tax records, offshore accounts and Bain Capital, the slings that Democrats have hurled at Romney for weeks while the economy sputters.” (ABC News political writers Matt Negrin and Emily Friedman).

And one more: “Returning fire with personal attacks on Obama offers both emotional satisfaction to Romney and many Republicans, and an answer of sorts to relentless Democratic attacks on Romney’s time as an executive. It has so far failed, however, to quiet the growing, bipartisan chorus of voices demanding Romney release more of his personal tax returns.” (BuzzFeed.com politcal analyst McKay Coppins).

CRONY PATROL

“It is time for the ‘most transparent administration ever’ to come clean on their political payoffs to Obama campaign bundler Steve Westly,” insists Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “Westly’s spokesman claimed they were ‘as transparent as possible’ while Westly-backed companies received hundreds of millions of dollars in Energy Department loans. But the Obama administration has yet to release the ‘conflict of interest’ review and other documents and communications related to Westly’s service on the Energy Secretary’s Advisory Board.”

Mr. Preibus adds, “It hardly seems ‘above the board,’ as the spokesman claims, for a major political fundraiser to have a plum Energy Department post while taxpayer dollars are directed to his energy companies. It reeks of crony capitalism, and the American taxpayers deserve answers.”

PRAY FOR RAIN

“I can only speak for myself. I get on my knees every day and I’m saying an extra prayer now. If I had a rain prayer or rain dance I could do, I would do it.”

(Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, after he was asked during an appearance Wednesday at the White House daily briefing about the role of prayer during extended droughts and crop failures.)

SEAL FOR ROMNEY

SOFA, so good? It could be for the Romney campaign. The aforementioned acronym stands for “Special Operations for America,” a bristling new political action committee organized by Ryan Zinke, former commander of SEAL Team Six and now a Republican state senator in Montana. His founding statement, this issued from the town of Whitefish: “SOFA will advocate for the election of Mitt Romney and like-minded candidates who want to bring true leadership back to Washington and who believe in permanent and enduring American exceptionalism. Leadership that does not apologize and bow to the world for America’s greatness or politicize military operations for political gain. SOFA stands against the core threats to National security created and unchecked by the Obama administration. SOFA will strike to ensure that veterans and our families receive the care and benefits their sacrifice has earned.”

Mr. Zinke already has forged alliances with Stand Up America, Afghanistan & Iraq Veterans for Congress and other groups.

“This is the organization that will offer a boots-on-the ground perspective to inform the national security discussion and policy debate in 2012 and into the future,” says Joel Arends, chaiman of Veterans for a Strong America, also a partner organization. “SOFA is going to provide a combination of first-hand experience tempered with the wisdom of experienced policy makers.”

See their outreach here: www.soforamerica.org

McGOVERN AT 90

A most happy birthday on Thursday to George McGovern. This is a big one. The former senator and presidential hopeful is 90, and many of his fans — including Rep. Nancy Pelosi and former Sen. Bob Dole, who himself turns 89 this week — will fete him at the Newseum, just three blocks from the White House. The event is hosted by United Nations World Food Program USA, the birthday cake will be supplied by none other than Charm City Cakes, the hipster bakery in Baltimore known for its unorthodox creations, and extensive coverage on “Ace of Cakes” on the Food Network. Details about the cake itself? It is a hush-hush, though inquiring minds wonder about wrangling those 90 candles.

POLL DU JOUR

• 74 percent of registered U.S, voters say a presidential candidate’s running mate “has an impact on their vote.”

• 48 percent say the choice of vice president matters “somewhat,” 26 percent say it matters “a lot.”

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About the Author

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper’s Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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