“If you don’t like my answer, you can go vote for someone else,” he said. “If you want someone who will raise taxes, you can vote for Barack Obama.” – Romney gets in heated exchange with hecklers at Iowa State Fair

The exchange came on the same day as what’s being billed as a big Republican debate before the ridiculously overrated Ames straw poll. Now that Romney’s being defined as a “fragile” or “tentative” frontrunner, he’s going to have to take his campaign out of coast.

As he did so he ran headlong into a tree of the activist variety. They’re the Citizens for Community Improvement and they made Romney’s day a lot more complicated than he wanted it to be.

Democrats are rightly jumping all over Romney’s “corporations are people, my friend” line, which illustrates why the establishment hasn’t backed him yet. It’s not just tone deaf but an offensive thing to say with 10+ double-digit real unemployment. Anyone thinking sticking up for corporations in the current atmosphere is a winner is hopeless.

For any Democrat or progressive, what Romney said is red meat. It’s also fodder for the Obama campaign if Romney’s the nominee, but he isn’t yet.

However, if you’re a Republican who hasn’t quite warmed to Romney, I’m not so sure this clip is bad for slick Mitt.

It’s the first relaxed, un-weird and unscripted moment that comes with a pretty good punch line for Republican primary voters. He doesn’t come off as afraid to mix it up and commits himself strongly, even if he’s wrong about, well, just about every policy issue, unless you include his move to raise taxes as governor of Massachusetts to lure S&P to raise his state’s credit rating.

However, all of this is a great set up for Gov. Rick Perry’s entrance.

Still, Romney actually showed some life and real humanness today amidst it all, moments that have been very few for him.

I’m starting to think that what was missing from Romney’s campaign was a little healthy competition.

Rick Perry getting in the race may be the best thing that ever happened to Mitt Romney, because he clearly can’t be as nonchalant with Perry poised to enter. But all the hoopla with Perry is reminiscent of what Fred Thompson engendered before he jumped in and landed on his face. Perry’s not Thompson, but he’s also not Chris Christie, who fits the times much better.

Though why anyone would think Perry has a better chance of beating Obama than Romney is beyond me, though the “cowboy” thing in the era of Obama could seduce the neocons.

For Republicans outside the Perryverse, his approach to foreign policy and national security appear to be a natural extension of his personality: aggressive, unapologetic, and instinctive… all of the traits Republicans see as lacking in the Obama’s foreign policy.

“He’s a cowboy,” said Michael Goldfarb, former senior staffer on John McCain’s presidential campaign. “You have to assume he’d shoot first and ask questions later — which would be nice after four years of a leading from behind, too little too late foreign policy.”