Romney shakes up the strategy, tones down rhetoric

By STEVE PEOPLES | April 28, 2012 | 6:37 PM EDT

FILE - In this April 27, 2012, file photo Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, eats a burger before a roundtable discussion with students at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. After days of closed-door fundraisers, Romney reintroduced himself to a nation, his first public appearance since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and offered a window into his campaign's evolving strategy as he moves beyond the bitter GOP primary. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hon, File)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Now that he's the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney is shifting from the charged rhetoric and demanding schedule of the primary campaign to a tone that's more attractive to independent voters.

Romney aides say he'll shun the "red-meat" conservative issues of abortion and immigration and instead hold more events highlighting his broader appeal. Romney emerged this week from days of closed-door fundraisers into a small university classroom in central Ohio with a shakeup in strategy from primary to general election — although not as dramatic as Republicans had feared.

Romney's appearance at Otterbein University offered a glimpse into what aides say will be a shift in tone and focus in the coming weeks as the former Massachusetts governor fights to deny President Barack Obama a second term.