In a bid to win independents, President Obama’s campaign is ramping up efforts to label Mitt Romney a hardcore conservative.

Out is the emphasis on Romney as a centrist flip-flopper with “no core,” a tag useful for Democrats as they attempted to hurt Romney with Republican voters and lengthen the primary season.

Now, as the campaign moves into a new phase and the general election draws closer, Team Obama is focused on pinning Romney down as too extreme, and is ready to pounce on any statements that could underline that point.
“The most important thing is to define Mitt Romney early before he has a chance to define himself,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Washington lobbyist who served as deputy campaign manager during the John Kerry presidential campaign. “The goal is to make him unacceptable to independent voters.

“It’s a time-honored tactic,” Elmendorf added. “You do it when he’s less prepared, tired and cranky and trying to map out the general election.”

Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant who served as an aide to several Democrats in their presidential bids, added that the Obama campaign is putting Romney in a corner by painting a caricature of a conservative who holds vastly different views on the economy.