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Mitt Romney Opts for Battle on Two Fronts

Which brings us to his second front: Beating Obama.

Romney's organization and funding show the innards of a campaign prepared for a United States presidential election, but they haven't escaped the clutches of disgruntled party members. Part of the reason might be that Romney hasn't convinced Republicans he really is all that different from Obama.

Obama's re-election chances could rely heavily on unemployment numbers in November. January's jobs report showed a decline in the unemployment rate to 8.3% from 8.5%.

This doesn't mean unemployment is permanently trending downwards, but the favorable data has been awkward for Romney to campaign against.

"This week [Obama's] been trying to take a bow for 8.3% unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President. This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew," Romney said Feb. 4.

In October, Romney said that unemployment "hasn't been below 8% since [Obama's] had his way." The 8% unemployment threshold may have seemed far off in October, but now it's not out of the question.

It would be twisted to say that Romney would hope for high unemployment come November, but a cornerstone of his campaign has been the poor economy under Obama.

Romney created the image of himself as the successful businessman who directed a private equity firm that created jobs, saved companies and drove American business. If the economy improves substantially it might be more difficult for Romney to stick with that angle, but he could pivot to re-brand his general election image.

None of that is possible, however, until he grabs the nomination. So for now, Romney must pay close attention to Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul while still lobbing attacks at Obama from afar.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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