TAMPA---Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is hoping Tropical Storm Isaac, looming ahead of the GOP convention in Tampa this week, won't blow surrogates off their talking points that Romney would "chart a new path forward" as president.
According to the official surrogate "briefing book" and "message points" provided to U.S. News by a source, the plan for the convention is to pitch Romney and his vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, as competent problem-solvers, ready to rescue America from President Obama's failed policies.
"President Obama's rhetoric couldn't overcome the reality of the obstacles our country faces because he turned to the failed liberal policies of the past—massive deficit spending and big government control over our lives," reads the Republican National Convention Briefing Book, distributed by the Romney campaign to top surrogates.
Romney "will make government a partner, not a master" for businesses, it says.
The briefing book encourages those speaking in support of Romney to highlight both his business experience as well as his record of public service. The book also provides brief biographies of Romney and Ryan—including his time as Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive—and provides a defense against Democratic critiques.
"President Obama and his allies are grossly misrepresenting Gov. Romney's record at Bain Capital," it says. "If Barack Obama had even half of Mitt Romney's record on job creation, he'd be running on it. Some of the companies that Bain Capital invested in were struggling. Some were able to be saved, and in some other cases, they were unsuccessful. This is the nature of the free market."
Democrats and Obama have made televisions advertisements highlighting workers laid off by companies bought by Bain.
The campaign also hopes to paint Romney as a strong leader.
"On his first day in office, Romney will submit a jobs package to Congress consisting of at least five major proposals and will demand that Congress act on the package within 30 days, using every power at his disposal to ensure its passage," the talking points say.
Obama has also offered Congress a series of job creation proposals, only to be rebuffed by House Republicans; it's likely Romney's proposals would meet a similar fate if Democrats retain control of the Senate post-election.
In addition to knocking Obama on high unemployment, the exploding cost of education and healthcare, the Romney campaign is also on the offensive on foreign policy, despite being the first GOP presidential ticket in decades without any such experience.
"President Obama is a weak negotiator who is often outmaneuvered by other nations," the briefing book says, citing a compromise on Russian missile defense, the recent North Korea rocket launch and Obama's "willingness to engage with Iranians with no preconditions has given them time to come to the brink of nuclear capability."
Romney will "ensure (our) military is so strong that no one will dare to test it," the book adds.
In a document labeled "surrogate message points," supporters are told that "Gov. Romney is uniquely qualified to be president at this critical time in our nation's history."
That's thanks to his commitment to family, his business career, public service and faith, which is described as "integral to his life." Romney, a Mormon, has typically shied away from discussing his religion, which in the past was shunned by some Christians. But he recently let the press accompany his family's Sunday trip to church and the campaign's acknowledgment of its importance in the talking points suggest it will play a larger role in his image going forward.
The campaign is also optimistic about what the convention—scheduled to get fully underway on Tuesday—will mean for Romney.
"From the convention we expect a renewed enthusiasm among supporters and important constituencies, new opportunities to draw support from target communities, (and) upward movement in the polls," the briefing says.
Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.