In my mind, it’s a little panic or an excess of tactical cleverness that had Mitt Romney attacking Rick Perry on Social Security in the days after the last debate. There was no reason for Romney to do it. Perry was (and is) going to take his lumps on Social Security regardless. Romney risked seeming as though he’s joining the media-Democratic pile-on. Besides, it’s not very presidential to talk like a political consultant about what statements do and do not make you more electable. In my view, Romney should stick to his prior strategy even in light of Perry’s rise. Romney is a solid second, he’s a polished performer, and he’ll presumably have the resources to compete over the long term. There’s no need for urgency right now (Bachmann should be much more desperate). He can afford to wait for Perry to come down to earth, which, if it happens, will be a function of Perry’s inherent vulnerabilities not Romney criticisms. At this point, reinforcing the perception that Perry is the blunt truth-teller while he’s the careful politician modulating what he says with an eye to political considerations only helps Perry. We’ll see it how it plays tonight. In the meantime, Perry is predictably reverting to the standard conservative pitch for reform of Social Security.
UPDATE: Mark beat me to it on the tactical foolishness.