ORLANDO -- Mitt Romney has done one thing very well since Rick Perry entered the race. Romney's campaign has hit Perry hard before the debates, Romney has performed well in the debates and knocked Perry around some and then, after the debate, Romney has continued punching but kept his message fresh and a little bit different every time.
Romney kept at it Friday, the morning after Perry again got hammered in his third debate as presidential candidate. Romney's theme on Friday morning: the difference between private sector jobs and government jobs.
It's a key theme of Romney's core critique of Perry as a candidate –- many of the Romney campaign's press releases show four pictures of Perry over the years, with the term "Career Politician" above them.
And Romney hammered and hammered on this theme in his 15-minute speech, weaving critiques of President Obama and a few finely tuned shots at Perry on immigration, making sure that CPAC attendees did not forget Perry's comment that those who oppose in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants don't "have a heart."
"I think if you're opposed to illegal immigration it doesn't mean that you don't have a heart. It means that you have a heart and a brain," Romney said in the darkened ballroom inside the cavernous convention center here. The crowd of roughly 2,500 cheered enthusiastically.
Romney kept his tone even, going through several ways in which the private sector is better and more productive than the public sector -- and continuing to highlight Perry's more than 25 years as an elected official.
"If you make a serious mistake in business, you might lose your job," Romney said. "In government, the four years I was there, I was surprised, when people messed up, they just blamed the opposition party."
He pivoted swiftly to a critique of Obama: "He sure knows how to campaign and blame. And we need a president who knows how to lead."
Romney also talked about attempts to use data to improve education in Massachusetts, saying that government bureaucrats had tons of it but didn't look at any of it. Romney also noted he had reduced taxpayer-funded hotel rooms for the homeless by changing the program that distributed them.
He talked about a university scholarship program Massachusetts had set up for high school students who scored well on a certain test -- and using the story to get in another shot at Perry on the immigration issue: "And by the way, you got to be a legal resident of the United States of America to get that."