Nice guys finish last
On that subject I offered this comment at Transterrestrial Musings
Keep in mind: getting tough does not mean getting mean. The alternative to Ned Flanders GOP presidential candidates (which is all of them post-Reagan) is not Al Pacino in ...And Justice for All. Toughness means discrediting the opposition.
Theologian Francis Schaeffer offered a structure for evangelism that applies to all forms of persuasion. You lead not with the ideology you're hawking but with that of the audience - you lead them to the logical conclusions of their views where those conclusions conflict the most with the audience's greatest concerns. People don't reject a worldview until they find fault with it - and only then will they be open to an alternative.
That's why "going negative" is critical. Voters won't abandon a Santa Claus candidate unless they perceive that Santa is doing more harm than good. In Romney's case, he should have talked about stuff like the failed solar subsidies, where the stimulus money really went, government waste in general (you'd think that would resonate in a country with a $16 trillion debt). Obamacare is still unpopular; Romney should have highlighted odious characteristics that PPACA does not share with Romneycare (such as the IPAB politburo). He should have reminded them about cap-and-trade, a scheme that is inherently geared toward decreasing industrial (and thus economic) output. He should have reminded folks about Obama's explicit promise to raise electricity rates. Maybe Mexican-Americans and America-inhabiting Mexicans would care about Fast and Furious' cost in Mexican lives.