As noted by Real Clear Politics, Romney is the only GOP hopeful who bests Obama in any of the recent polls (Rasmussen Reports and Public Policy Polling). And on the Real Clear Politics polling average, Romney is much closer to Obama (1.6 percentage points), than Newt Gingrich (8.9 points), Rick Perry (12.5 points), Michele Bachmann (15 points), Rep. Paul (7.7 points), or Jon Huntsman (8.6 points).
As Obama’s favorability ratings creep upward, the relative strength of the challenger as measured by the somewhat ineffable “electability” becomes more important – hence Romney’s directly engaging Obama.
“I will be talking about his record and his failure, and he will be trying to make this a personal attack, which I think will sour the American people,” Romney told the Boston Herald. “One of the reasons people supported candidate Obama was his soaring vision for a more positive America, and he has now succumbed to the more base form of politics which is attacking individuals, dividing Americans and poisoning the spirit of leadership.”
If that sounds like Romney is offering his own version of “hope and change,” he is.