• With: Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Bret Stephens, Mary Kissel, Collin Levy, David Feith

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," September 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," another rough week for Mitt Romney has his campaign settling on a new strategy. Will their reboot work?

    Plus, a closer look at the latest polls reveals some bright spots for the embattled Republican. We'll tell you what they are.

    And, new information about the deadly consulate attack in Libya raises new questions about the administration's response. We'll have the latest on that.

    And a look at the winners and the losers in the Chicago teachers strike.

    Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    After another rough week for Republican presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, his advisors have reportedly settled on a plan to reset the struggling campaign dubbed "More Mitt." The idea is to put the candidate and his policy ideas front and center in speeches, campaign appearances and TV ads like this one.


    MITT ROMNEY, R-FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My plan is to help the middle class. Trade has to work for America. That means crack down on cheaters like China. It means open up new markets. Next, you've got to balance the budget. You've got to cut the deficit. You've got to stop spending more money than we take in. And finally, champion small business. Have tax policies, regulations and health care policies that help small business. We put those in place, we'll have 12 million new jobs in four years.


    GIGOT: The question is, will it work?

    Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Kim, what do you think about this new strategy? And I guess maybe start with the question of, what does it say about the campaign that they feel they need a new strategy or a new direction focus two weeks after -- three weeks after the Republican convention?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, they have had this perfect storm over the last couple of weeks. They saw their poll numbers going down following the Democratic convention. There was this flap over Mr. Romney and his comments about Egypt and Libya. And then, you know, now the latest thing what he said about the 47 percent out there. So there's been a lot of nervousness in the Republican field. And the silver ling of this, if there is one, it does give them an opportunity to go out and reboot and try to buck up some of those conservatives who are worried.

    What their strategy seems to be is "More Mitt." We're going to put him out there more and have him talking more. I think the test is going to be, whether or not -- if people are just seeing him, that doesn't help.

    They need to be hearing from him what he's going to do.

    OK. And, Dan, so, but hearing him say, what?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Yes, that's a good question.

    GIGOT: And what about that ad? He did list specifics. I think the campaign, two of their conservative critics would say, what do you want, Henninger, Gigot.


    GIGOT: Not you, Dan. Me. What do you want Gigot?

    HENNINGER: I want answers.


    GIGOT: So what about --

    HENNINGER: Not to put too fine a point on it, Paul, I thought the ad was ridiculous.


    The first thing what he said is, what we need is a stronger trade policy. That's the issue foremost in the minds of voters trying to decide which one to vote for?

    Secondly, the deficit, a balanced budget, which is something, kind of conservative hobby horse. It really is not resonating.

    And thirdly, why does he think that these sound bites -- the trade, the deficit, small business -- are going to turn voters in his direction? Those are simply kind of platitudes with no substance beneath them. And if he's going to just do that for the next five weeks, I think he's going to be in big trouble.

    GIGOT: James?



    FREEMAN: Was a bit vague. I didn't like the trade stuff. On the other hand, you had a message of smaller government. And a message of tax and regulatory relief to small businesses is often much bigger deal than taxes. It's unknown, difficult to deal with but and time consuming, but he needs to get more specific.

    GIGOT: But are those points compelling to make the sale for middle class voters? To basically tell them, look, Obama hasn't done enough for you. I can do much more, which seems to be what the swing voters are really, really looking for.

    FREEMAN: I think it's a step in the right direction. He has to get a little more aggressive, detailing the problem and saying, here is how I'm going to get the burden of government off of business. And here is how we're going to grow jobs. I think he needs to go maybe beyond the 10 seconds in the commercial so say, here is how lower taxes and lower regulations will create more hiring.

    GIGOT: Well, you can't do that on a 30-second spot.

    FREEMAN: That's right. That's right. Drop the trade stuff and get a few more sentences in --


    GIGOT: If he does -- he will have an opportunity in the debates. And if he gave some press conferences and town halls, he could do it.