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Does Mitt Romney need to shake up his campaign staff?

Two titans of industry, GE's Jack Welch and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, indicate as much in tweets this week. But Mitt Romney is competitive in the 2012 race. Why the second-guessing?

By Staff writer / July 3, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and wife Ann Romney jet ski on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., on July 2, where Romney has a vacation home.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Does Mitt Romney need to shake up his campaign staff? One of America’s most famous former corporate chieftains appears to believe that he does. Ex-GE honcho Jack Welch tweeted on Monday night that he agrees with News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch that Mr. Romney needs more combative advisers.

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Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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“Hope Mitt Romney is listening to Murdoch advice [on] campaign staff ... playing in league with Chicago pols. No room for amateurs,” wrote Mr. Welch.

Hmm. Are Welch and Mr. Murdoch hitting the panic button? Generally speaking, campaign shake-ups occur only when campaigns aren’t doing well. In 2007, for instance, Sen. John McCain fired campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver due to poor fundraising and muddled message production. In 2008, Hillary Rodman Clinton’s campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, got the ax as the former first lady struggled to regain her frontrunner status.

But both of those upheavals occurred in the primary season, when there is still time to settle the team down and get rolling again. Romney is already into the general election phase of the campaign, when the pace becomes fast and furious. (Yes, that’s an Eric Holder reference.) Plus, there’s little evidence his team is floundering. As New York Times political reporter Michael Shear notes Tuesday in the paper’s Caucus blog, Romney is close to even with President Obama in the polls. He’s raising piles of money.

“The campaign is disciplined and precise,” writes Mr. Shear.

It’s possible that both Welch and Murdoch are just tweaking Romney. Neither has a close relationship with the presumptive GOP nominee, despite the fact that both also profess that they want Romney to win.

Plus, they might be falling prey to CEO syndrome. In business it’s easy to hire and fire top officials. It gives the appearance of action, particularly in the face of bad news, such as a decline in sales. And while Romney is doing pretty well, there are a few worrisome signs. The latest Gallup tracking poll has Mr. Obama over Romney by 48 percent to 43 percent – the incumbent’s biggest lead since April.

“The race has been close among registered voters so far this election cycle, but President Obama is now showing a slightly more sustained lead in recent days than he has previously,” writes Gallup editor Frank Newport.

It’s true that’s only one poll. But the RealClearPolitics rolling average of major polls also has Obama maintaining a clear, if slim, 2.7 percentage point lead.

Our final point is that Welch and Murdoch, two titans of capitalism, may feel stung by Obama’s attacks on Romney’s capitalist actions. The Obama team’s pounding on Bain Capital continues, with a new ad out Tuesday charging that Romney “believes” in outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.

This charge is based on the fact that Bain invested in several companies that specialized in moving back-office jobs to foreign nations. But the ad neglects to mention that much of the investment occurred after Romney left the firm. An analysis of similar Obama ads from FactCheck.org notes that “some of the claims in the ads are untrue, and others are thinly supported.”

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