This, as reported by BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins, seems crazy:
How The Romney Campaign Decided To Take The Gloves OffOK, a few thoughts.
Surrogates will bring up cocaine, Fast and Furious, and ties to Blagojevich, one aide says...
... facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney's finances and business record, the Republican's campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity....
"I mean, this is a guy who admitted to cocaine use, had a sweetheart deal with his house in Chicago, and was associated and worked with Rod Blagojevich to get Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate," the adviser said. "The bottom line is there'll be counterattacks."
... Romney surrogates will place increased emphasis in coming days on the "Fast and Furious" gun-running scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, hoping to drag the story back into the headlines, and highlight questions about the the Obama campaign's transparency, the Romney adviser said....
First of all, I don't believe for a minute that Romney -- who, as the story notes, used to concede that Obama is a "nice guy" -- suddenly decided to get down and dirty because Obama was so gosh-darn mean to him. This is pure spin, fed to a reporter who's clearly willing to retransmit spin unedited. (That "surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks" bit is a tell.)
What Romney is really doing -- as I've been saying for days -- is trying to placate his rabid base, and also his big donors, who may be zillionaires but are still angry old white male cranks who constantly watch Fox News just like all the other angry old white male cranks in America.
The base and the donors just can't believe that all these timeworn lines of attack are unpersuasive to swing voters -- Valerie Jarrett and Fast and Furious make their blood boil, so surely the rest of the public must feel the same way, right? The public just doesn't know! It's because Obama wasn't vetted! The lie-beral media didn't do its job four years ago!
This is the Breitbart strategy -- Breitbart is now running Romney's campaign from beyond the grave.
I don't know if Romney's going to go full Breitbart -- which would mean going racial whenever possible (Jeremiah Wright, New Black Panthers, et cetera). I suspect the Romney people aren't that stupid. But at the very least they've decided that if they aren't going to win, at least no one's going to be able to say that they lost because Romney didn't run as a "true conservative." (This attack-dog craziness is, after all, what it means to be a "true conservative" these days.)
But Romney can't win that battle except by winning. If he wins the election, they'll say it was because he ran as a "true conservative," no matter what he's said or done. If he loses -- even if he's gone birther and picked Joe Arpaio as his running mate -- they'll say it was because he was RINO squish.