Mitt Romney has spent much of this year’s campaign attacking President Obama’s economic record and attitude toward small businesses, but many in his party are beginning to warn him that he will have to focus more on his own qualifications to win this fall.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee largely has followed the playbook of past challengers, framing the 2012 election as a referendum on the sitting president and happily chopping away at Mr. Obama’s policies while avoiding taking a stand on thorny questions himself — such as immigration and women’s pay.
But in recent weeks, as Obama campaign attacks over his time at Bain Capital and questions about his tax records have mounted, Mr. Romney is increasingly facing calls from his own party to tell a better story about himself and his vision for the country.
“He would be best served to do two things: One is beefing up his personal narrative and the other is talking about the future,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “People don’t really care about the blame game. They’ve got it.”
On Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Mr. Romney should break the negative campaign cycle and go positive by telling voters of his own business success and his gubernatorial record.
“I think there’s a lot of caution,” Mr. Walker said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that he hopes Mr. Romney unveils the new approach in time for the Republican National Convention next month. “I think the mistake that they’ve made is this feeling that it can just be a referendum on the president.”
For much of the campaign, that is how Mr. Romney has been operating.
On Thursday, he continued his attacks on Mr. Obama for remarks the president made this month that businesses often rely on government help to succeed.
The “Built By Us” campaign calls on business owners to join the attack and repudiate Mr. Obama’s remarks.
Coupled with the attacks on Mr. Obama has been a wariness on the part of Mr. Romney to stake out hard-and-fast positions on some questions.
His campaign has declined to say whether he would sign the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Democrats tried to pass through the Senate that would make it easier for women to sue over claims of pay disparity.
He also has refused to say whether he would leave in place Mr. Obama’s June directive to stop deporting most illegal immigrants up to age 30.
Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state and architect of the Arizona immigration law, told The Washington Times that he thinks Mr. Romney’s camp feels the deportation directive is illegal. Mr. Kobach said it could be that Mr. Romney is waiting for a more opportune time to say so publicly.
“When you are in an athletic event and you are winning, you are ahead, you don’t take risk. Only someone who is losing and needs to take a risky strategy to gain ground,” Mr. Kobach said, emphasizing that he doesn’t know the campaign’s strategy. “My guess is that if there is no need to give a very specific position and that can be addressed later if and when he wins the White House, maybe that is the idea.”
He expects that Mr. Romney eventually will have to be more forthright on issues.