TAMPA, Fla. -- Frank Luntz called. The Republican political strategist wanted to talk about a focus group that he conducted Sunday afternoon, which was observed from behind a smoked one-way window by myself and a room full of other reporters.
Luntz really wanted to make sure we mention that it was sponsored by the for-profit University of Phoenix.
I asked what he saw, if anything, that was new in the two-plus hours he talked to the 23 men and women in his group. But he's a little distracted as he drives down the road on his way to the next thing.
"We're driving to the Georgia delegation, and the guy behind me is doing navigation, and I feel like I'm 16 again learning how to drive," Luntz said.
"I was pretty bad. The worst of all was when I learned how to drive a stick in Austria and Salzburg, which is basically built into a mountain. My mom tried to jump out of a car because it was sliding backwards, and I can't figure out how to do the brake and the clutch. But she doesn't understand that if she jumps out of the car, the door will knock her over because it's going backward. So she is repeatedly jumping out of the car and repeatedly getting knocked over in her effort to disappear. It was a great experience. It was really bonding between me and my family."
I laughed, and reminded him of where he left off, which was talking about how Mitt Romney's business record is an asset and a liability, and how voters "recognize that he's a businessman but that cuts both ways."
He continued making that point.
"It cuts both ways. Nobody thinks that a CEO is compassionate. Nobdy thinks that a CEO cares. That's the negative. The positive is they believe CEO's are problem solvers, and that's Mitt Romney's greatest strength. He's a problem solver. And that's his answer," Luntz said.
He doesn't pause a beat before saying, "The guy is urinating on the side of the road. He's smoking a pipe and urinating. I love Florida."
Ok, so what does Romney need to do in his speech Thursday?
"He has to show it that he's a problem-solver. People have to feel that he is the guy to fix it. They're disappointed -- that's the word that everyeone uses: 'I'm disappointed with Barack Obama. He did not deliver.' But Romney has to show that it's not smoke and mirrors. And they're going to give him a chance.
"The time to do it is running short. And I'll tell you something. I do think he waited a bit too long," Luntz said.
Luntz is doing another focus group in Charlotte, N.C. After this phone conversation, I'm definitely going to that.