BOSTON – Republican Mitt Romney, who last week struggled with his responses to a major foreign policy crisis in the Middle East, will now turn his focus back to the economy with a new offensive aimed at recharging a campaign that even some allies believe he is losing.

The Obama campaign, also sobered by the violent deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya, seems willing to join Romney in a debate about the economy instead.

The Republican nominee, in speeches and television advertisements this week, will roll out more details about his plans to help the middle class by creating jobs, cutting the deficit and developing more domestic energy resources, advisers said. The specifics are designed to give voters a clearer sense of what Romney would do as president.

Both candidates were pushed off message in the wake of the Middle East turmoil that roiled the campaign last week. President Obama was forced to defend his administration’s handling of the crisis as Romney sharply criticized it. But Romney did not appear to make up any ground politically, and some Republican allies criticized him for too quickly politicizing the moment.

Romney is determined to reshape a congealing narrative that he has fallen behind Obama and will spend the next 2½ weeks before the first presidential debate articulating more-concrete details of his five-step economic plan, according to campaign advisers.

The strategy shift indicates the Romney campaign is heeding the advice of senior Republicans, who for weeks have publicly urged the Romney operation to combine its indictments of Obama’s record with a stronger rationale for a Romney presidency.

“I think people are waiting to get a little more information, and the key for us is to make sure that voters know why voting for Romney will result in a change and an improved economy,” Edward Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney, said in an interview.

“We’re going to keep pounding away on a future-oriented campaign about why the next four years will be better under Mitt Romney than under President Obama.”

The Romney campaign has prepared a series of ads, to air in battleground states, arguing that Romney’s plan would create 12 million jobs. Aides said the ads will highlight his trade policies to crack down on China, his plans to help small businesses grow and his specific plan to cut the spiraling federal deficit.

The national debt will be a key focus early this week. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, will highlight the debt burden that mothers and grandmothers will pass on to their children and grandchildren — an issue advisers think can help Romney close the gap with Obama among female voters. The campaign also plans to stage a ticking electronic debt clock at campaign rallies, an aide said.

Romney touched on the debt in a podcast released to supporters over the weekend, saying that Obama was “passively allowing us to go over a fiscal cliff.” Romney’s plan calls for capping federal spending at below 20 percent of the economy — cuts he says he would achieve in part by consolidating federal agencies and transferring some government programs to the states.

Obama has argued that Romney’s proposed cuts would devastate the middle class, and aides said the president will engage Romney head-on in that debate this week. Obama kicks off a busy campaign week by returning to the critical battleground of Ohio, with appearances scheduled Monday in Cincinnati and Columbus.

As he has done repeatedly on the trail, Obama will warn of the consequences of Romney’s plans to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and tout his administration’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry three years ago, aides said. They cast Romney as a flailing candidate trying repeatedly to reinvent himself without success.

“Mitt Romney has already laid out his five-point plan, and it is chock full of bad news for the middle class,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday in an email. She listed repealing changes to Wall Street and Obama’s health-care overhaul among the initiatives Romney would pursue if elected.

Both candidates have a heavy load of fundraising ahead as they furiously try to amass cash to finance the expensive advertising blitz in the final weeks before Election Day. Obama will raise money in New York at an event headlined by music power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce while Romney will raise money in California, Texas and Florida.

The two will face off in dueling appearances in Miami at a forum sponsored by Univision, the Spanish-language television network. Romney will speak at the forum Wednesday, a day before Obama, and both candidates will answer questions.

Romney has struggled to make inroads with Latino voters but will make an aggressive push this week, both at the Miami forum and in a speech Monday to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.

In each case, aides said Romney will talk about his plans to help small-business owners and why he thinks Obama’s health-care overhaul hurts Hispanic entrepreneurs.

In the 2008 campaign, Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote, and the president has heavily courted them this year, touting his recent directive to stop deporting some illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children and have gone on to be productive and otherwise law-abiding residents.

Polls show him leading Romney by solid margins among Latinos, but Obama’s pollsters say he needs to extend his margin from four years ago to make up for potential losses among other voting demographics.

Overall, the spate of recent polls spell trouble for the Romney effort. Although the race remains close nationally in head-to-head matchups, Romney is losing ground in several key battleground states, particularly Ohio, that are essential to a winning electoral calculus.


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