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“While some voters appreciate your candor and authenticity, far more voters hear about your small mistakes because the other side takes that, usurps it, and puts it in an ad,” Mr. Duprey said. “So, I think the lesson from 2008 is that while those of us who think that is the way to do politics appreciate it — John McCain’s courage and authenticity — more than once he got it handed back to him by the Obama campaign.”

Given Mr. Obama’s struggles, he said the Romney camp is smart to keep the focus on the president.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, also described Mr. McCain as a political outlier.

“I think McCain is the exception,” Mr. DeWine said. “I can’t remember too many presidential campaigns that are run in the modern era that are not scripted and totally controlled.”

Mr. DeWine said that Mr. Romney’s bus tour will give him a chance to connect with voters.

“You don’t have to do town halls to be perceived to be in touch with the average voters. If you pick your spots, really grass-roots locations, you can get at that openness in a different way,” Mr. DeWine said, singling out his scheduled visit to K’s Hamburger Shop.