• With: Jason Riley, James Freeman, Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger

    GIGOT: And that means tax reform in particular. Obama really did, as we heard in that clip earlier, really did go after Romney on taxes.


    GIGOT: And said this is the elixir they always try and it's going to only help the rich. Romney has to explain why that reform actually helps the middle class.

    HENNINGER: He does. And thank heavens Obama did that. Because Romney does have to step up to the plate.

    I have to tell you, guys, I think the table has been set for a Romney victory. I'll tell you why. Barack Obama's approve/disapprove has been 48, 48 for the entire year.

    GIGOT: Or lower.

    HENNINGER: Or lower. He has basically flat-lined. And there was nothing in that convention that suggests it was going to rise. He's got to somehow get over 50 percent. I saw nothing in the convention to suggest he's going to do that. It's now up to Mitt Romney to make the case for those 2 percent of voters.

    GIGOT: But what about -- but what other vulnerabilities did the Democrats open us on Romney that he has to address?

    RILEY: I think -- James briefly touched on it -- foreign policy. I think that was --

    GIGOT: Really?

    RILEY: -- something that the Democratic convention successfully exploited. The tributes to the troops were quite moving, quite effective. I think Obama does want to talk about foreign policy. I ended the war in Iraq, I'm bringing home the troops from Afghanistan, I killed bin Laden. He says throw me into that briar patch --


    GIGOT: But how does Romney do that, other than sounding presidential and saying -- trying -- sounding competent on the issue? And he doesn't -- he doesn't want a long debate on Afghanistan.

    RILEY: No, he doesn't. Because the fact of the matter is, the war is somewhat unpopular, even on the right. So, it's -- it's a challenge for Romney, foreign policy. And of course, being a governor, and his life story has not brought about a lot of foreign policy experience, and he's made some gaffes on that.

    GIGOT: Kim, if you -- if you talk to the Obama strategists, they will -- their advantage, they say, always comes down to the Electoral College. Romney simply has to win too many states that Obama carried in 2008. He has to basically do an inside straight to carry all these states. Right now, the only Romney -- the only Obama states from 2008 that Romney is ahead in is Indiana, which he probably put away, and North Carolina.

    STRASSEL: Right.

    GIGOT: But Florida, Ohio, Virginia, the rest, you've got a slight Obama lead. What does it say about Dan's point that it's a setup for a Romney victory?

    STRASSEL: I think that -- they are -- one of the other things that you saw over the last month though, again, is a steady erosion of the Obama lead in some of the swing states. So they're now poised to actually do well if they continue to make the case that everyone's been talking about in some of those states. But they have to do exactly what James said. They've got to go out and explain tax reform. They also can't drop these other things that they have brought up and come out forcefully on, things like Medicare and entitlement reform. They were really beat up on that in the Democratic convention this week. They're going to have to come out and continue to fight them on a draw on that and then make the case on the economy.

    GIGOT: One thing Romney has to do, he doesn't do very well, but Bill Clinton really did for Barack Obama, is explain some of these issues, and just matter-of-fact, factual points, that take some of the fear out of it if you can explain in ways that people understand.

    HENNINGER: That's what I'm suggesting. It's not complicated. Mitt Romney is a salesman. The message to Mitt now is, Mitt, go out and sell your presidency.

    FREEMAN: Well, I think the other good thing to come out of this convention is the Democrats obviously don't have any new material on Bain.

    They brought up a few old examples of companies that were basically on their way to failing before Bain Capital bought them. Not any new material here. I think if you think of the American people as ready to fire Obama, this was not a good week for Obama in terms of making Romney an unacceptable alternative.

    GIGOT: Briefly, Jason, you've been -- OK, well, sorry, we've got to go.


    We have to take one more break. When we come back, our "Hits and Misses" of the week.


    GIGOT: Time now for "Hits and Misses" of the week.

    Kim, first to you.

    STRASSEL: This is a miss for the Michigan Supreme Court which, this week, over the objections of Governor Rick Snyder, put a union-promoted initiative on the November ballot that ostensibly enshrines the right to collective bargaining in the constitution. The real problem with this initiative is it's very broad and it potentially restricts the ability of the state to do any of the reforms it needs to rein in public-sector costs. This is the latest backlash out of the reforms from Wisconsin. And people better start paying attention.

    GIGOT: OK, thanks, Kim.


    RILEY: This is a miss for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who two months before a presidential election, has decided to launch an investigation of Bain Capital. How is that for prosecutorial obstruction?


    GIGOT: Discretion.


    RILEY: You know, so the highest in the New York State is going to smear the president's Republican rival in the middle of a presidential election.

    GIGOT: He's masking it in all private equity tax practices. OK.


    RILEY: The timing is curious.

    GIGOT: All right.