David Brooks, as usual, offers insights:
Always dangerous to bring up politics, but do you think Romney shifted in his debate? Do you think Romney is now sketching a moderate course that will appeal to more Americans?
Romney didn’t describe a comprehensive governing philosophy, but he gave us a hint of a strong center-right pragmatic approach. It starts with 1986-style tax reform and Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform and then offers a glimpse of experimental pragmatism on most everything else.
Yes, it’s true. Romney’s tax numbers don’t add up. Yes, there’s a lot of budgetary flimflam. No, Romney still doesn’t have an easy answer to wage stagnation (neither does Obama). But Romney’s debate performance signals the return of Governor Mitt. Democrats call it hypocrisy; I call it progress.
You could conceivably build a majority coalition around this framework, winning over more working-class women and some Hispanic voters. The crucial test will be whether Romney can develop, brand and sell this approach over the campaign’s final month.
Most important, Romney did something no other mainstream Republican has had the guts to do. Either out of conviction or political desperation, he broke with Tea Party orthodoxy and began to redefine the Republican identity. And, having taken this step, he’s broken the spell. Conservatives loved it! They loved that it was effective, and it was effective because Romney could more authentically be the man who (I think) he truly is.