With an enemy like this, who needs friends?

It’s clear that President Obama’s re-election strategy begins and ends with attacking Mitt Romney. How could it be otherwise? Obama cannot run on his record.

Bare-knuckle attacks on one’s opponent are unpresidential, though. Thus, they are best left to surrogates. But as I’ve written, Obama has proclaimed himself a better speechwriter than his speechwriters and a better political director than his political director. Presumably, he also considers himself a better attack dog than his attack dogs, and thus may be reluctant to leave this crucial work to surrogates.

Recent events support my hypothesis. For example, one surrogate Obama won’t be relying on from now on is Deval Patrick, Romney’s successor as Massachusetts governor. As Politico reports:

Hitting the Thursday morning TV news shows, Patrick barely managed a few yips at Romney – and was more at home cuddling up to Bain Capital and the Republican nominee. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Patrick called Bain “a perfectly fine company.” “They have a role in the private economy, and I’ve got a lot of friends there … on both sides of the aisle,” Patrick added. “I think the Bain strategy has been distorted in some of the public discussions.”

I wonder who has been doing the distorting.

By now, the Romney campaign can make an ad featuring prominent Dems heroically standing up for Bain Capital and questioning Obama’s attempts to use it as a sword against his opponent.

But what about Romney? His former company might be “perfectly fine,” but isn’t its former head a snake with a terrible record as governor? Not so much, according to Patrick:

Patrick, who followed Romney as governor in 2007, called the GOP presidential nominee a “gentleman” and said, “He’s always been a gentleman to me, and the people who know him well and personally speak very warmly of him. I haven’t had a lot of interaction with him, but the transition [to Patrick’s governorship] was smooth.”

The governor also was asked by an MSNBC panelist about the unemployment rate in Massachusetts when Romney left office – and the answer left “Morning Joe” panelists musing about how low it was. I think when he left office, it was in the fours. I want to say 4.3 percent [note: actually it was slightly higher than 4.3], about what the national average was,” Patrick said.

“That’s pretty good,” responded host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman.

It certainly looks good these days.

Deval Patrick played a role in the 2008 campaign, when Obama “borrowed” some of his rhetoric. It seems unlikely that, after today, Patrick will have a role to play this year.

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