Yes, it appears to be panic time among the Romneyites. McKay Coppins talked to a Mitt campaign adviser who indicated they were readying the kitchen sink:
"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." The reference to Obama's past drug use seems to suggest that former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu wasn't going off-script after all when he dinged the president for spending "his early years in Hawaii smoking something" during a Tuesday morning Fox News appearance.
I'm not sure that will work at this point for the following reason:
The Washington Post/ABC News poll indicated 46% of Americans viewed Obama's campaign favorably, compared to only 38% who viewed Romney's. On the flip side, 45% viewed Obama's effort as unfavorably and 49% said they had an unfavorable impression of Romney's campaign.
Perhaps more surprising: nearly one-in-four self-identified Republicans viewed Romney's campaign unfavorably, compared to 18% of Democrats who felt the same about Obama's effort. Similarly, 31% of conservative Republicans said they felt strongly favorable toward Romney's campaign, compared to 51% of liberal Democrats who felt the same about Obama's campaign.
Chait doubts Romney is dumb enough to follow through:
Hard-core conservatives may still regard him as an alien figure, but this strategy stands zero chance of working with middle America. All it can do is chip away at Romney’s personal standing, which (in an electorate with settled views about the incumbent) is the one real variable at play here. Which, of course, is part of the reason why Romney was so careful to insist that Obama was a good guy in the first place.
Meanwhile, Byron York observes that the Romney "death star" appears to be having engine problems:
[A]t least at the moment, the vaunted Romney death star, the machine that flattened his Republican opponents, just isn’t working. Romney is trying to get traction — this week, he’s focusing on Obama’s crony capitalism — but he is struggling.
More signs of desperation: Drudge running big with Joe Arpaio's assertion that Obama's birth certificate is faked (see above); John Sununu's gaffe that "I wish this president would learn how to be an American"; and Romney's own statement yesterday that "The course we're on right now is foreign to us. It changes America." These may help fire up a xenophobic base but they are toxic to the center. If Romney's campaign is neo-Birther in July, it's gonna be one hell of an October.