First, he should follow Mr. McCain’s lead—fire the consultants and travel without an entourage or PowerPoint slideshow. Talk to people and actually listen to their feedback. Show some emotion.
Second, he must pick a single theme and relentlessly drive it home. No more position papers and no more pleas for support from congenitally dissatisfied social conservative leaders. If Mr. Romney told James Dobson, as Mr. Thompson did, that he won’t be dancing to his tune, voters would appreciate it and focus on what he’s actually offering.
Third, it would help if he could reveal something about his past that shows tenacity and courage. Rather than acting like a cautious marketing man, he should find a way to explain how he took risks and defied the cautious naysayers. If he doesn’t have foreign policy experience, he can at least show that he has nerve under pressure.
Finally, he has to stop picking and losing petty fights. If he thinks Fred Thompson is too inexperienced to be president, he should make that clear. And if thinks Rudy Giuliani is a wide-eyed social liberal who will destroy the G.O.P., he should say so.
Either way, he’s got to start saying something meaningful or credible, because Plan A isn’t working.