• With: Gov. John Kasich, Bret Stephens, Matt Kaminski, Dan Henninger, Mary Kissel, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Paul Gigot, Kim Strassel, James Freeman

    If it's getting fatter, and people are working, they will do well. If it is smaller, they will not do so well. Romney needs to make that case and needs to be back here as often as he possibly can so people can see him, know him and conclude that he not only understands their problems but he has a way of fixing them.

    GIGOT: OK, Governor, thanks so much for being here. I assume we'll see Governor Romney and you on the trail in Ohio a lot.

    KASICH: All the way to the finish line.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GIGOT: All right, thanks.

    KASICH: Thanks, Paul.

    GIGOT: When we come back, we go from Ohio to Colorado where the candidates will square off Wednesday night in their first presidential debate. There is no doubt Mitt Romney has a lot riding on his performance there. Our panel has some advice for the governor, next.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    GIGOT: From Ohio to another important swing state, Colorado, where the candidates will meet next week in their first presidential debate. Mitt Romney has lot riding on his performance on Wednesday night. What does he need to do in that debate and in the weeks ahead to shift the campaign narrative?

    Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Kim, let's start out. How far behind is Mitt Romney now?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: If you look out there at the polls, he is behind in nearly every swing state poll there is. Now there is an argument and his campaign is making that argument that they are not nearly as far behind as many of the media polls out there. But there is an understanding in the campaign that they have some ground they're going to have to make up.

    GIGOT: So that's what -- they are saying basically, they're admitting behind the scenes that they are behind and they have to make up. They sound like they know it because they are trying to find different shifting narratives to be able to get ahead. Have they fastened on a single strategy yet?

    STRASSEL: Here is what they've been trying to do for the last two weeks, ever since they came out with the bad headlines. They have been telling donors on telephone calls and they've been promising the media they want to do this reboot where they have a much more forward-leaning campaign, a much more aggressive about rebutting some of the president's claims, much more about presenting a bold and optimistic future based on their own ideas. But they are having a hard time breaking through the media narrative. That is potentially the big opportunity in the debate.

    GIGOT: In the debate.

    All right, Dorothy. That's -- I agree with Kim. It's an opportunity for Mitt Romney, American people to see him unadorned, no intermediaries, except for the moderator and Barack Obama.

    How good a debater is Mitt Romney?

    DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: Oh, he's proved himself very effective. He did that in that last "60 Minutes" interview. He is a terrific counter-puncher. And he sat there fluently answering --

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIGOT: Last Sunday on "60 Minutes."

    RABINOWITZ: Last Sunday. And it was remarkable to see because he had all this information and insight about questions he had no idea he was going to be asked. That was really impressive.

    GIGOT: So you think he's more effective in an environment like that than he is on the stump?

    RABINOWITZ: Yes. He is -- you can't be prepped for that kind of interview. No one can say you aren't. When they ask you this, you don't know what is coming. Look at this in contrast to what happened to the semi-disastrous convention speech.

    (LAUGHTER)

    And it's my view that, before this debate, he should be looking at these two speeches where -- these two opposite polls of success, the convention speech where he was in his narrative filled with consultants if -- not his own.

    GIGOT: And biography.

    RABINOWITZ: And biography and all the rest of it. And he has to ask himself, what was it in me that made me think this is effective. That he has to ask. And he has to say, I am going off on a brand new shore now. Everything matters. I have to say, I am not going to be that person who wants to touch every base as I was trained to. What the Independents, the undecideds --

    (CROSSTALK)

    GIGOT: Instead of massaging voter groups, focus in on policy --

    (CROSSTALK)

    RABINOWITZ: Right.

    GIGOT: Right, right, right.

    RABINOWITZ: Right.

    GIGOT: OK. The campaign is leaking the strategy, Dan, of what they want to do in the debate, Mitt Romney wants to do is essentially call Barack Obama on his deceptions. My question is, is it smart to leak your strategy in advance to the media, number one, and then, is it a smart strategy to go after Obama's deception?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: Well, at the very least, it probably allows Barack Obama time to polish his deceptions.

    (LAUGHTER)

    That's possible.

    GIGOT: They're pretty highly polished already.

    HENNINGER: Yes. But to your point, I wouldn't agree with that strategy. That is pretty much what they have been doing up until now, so far, is reacting to Bain Capital and the rest of it, which puts them on the defensive and having them playing Obama's game. I think Romney probably needs to go in there with a thought-out piece-by-piece critique of Barack Obama's economic policies, linking him to the weak economy that he has presided over four years. I say that because, my sense, Paul, is there are a substantial number of voters who -- and one has read of these people --

    GIGOT: Sure.