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Mr. Romney can say he’s the right guy to manage the overweening, poorly administered federal government back to a size that makes sense. Mr. Obama will have trouble making the same argument given his history of missteps.

The president needs government to be well regarded if he is to sell his populist policies. Mr. Romney would be wise to prevent him from making that case.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum is a Washington Times columnist, a Fox News contributor and president of BGR Public Relations.