Contrary to what some credulous news reports have indicated, the Obama campaign does not seem tremendously confident about beating Mitt Romney next fall. Case in point: a relaxed and confident campaign doesn’t attack its opponent for an ad proposal – one that never even went beyond the consideration phase – cooked up by an unrelated outside group. Or at least if it does, it uses surrogates and outsiders to make the point.

But the Obama campaign has been scraping bottom to find angles to attack Mitt Romney on. So it’s not a surprise that campaign manager Jim Messina blasted Romney today for responding too “tepidly” to reports that a conservative super PAC was considering an ad blitz targeting Jeremiah Wright:

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina doesn’t seem to think the Romney’s camp’s reaction is strong enough.

“The blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics,” Messina responded. “Once again, Governor Romney has fallen short of the standard that John McCain set, reacting tepidly in a moment that required moral leadership in standing up to the very extreme wing of his own party.”

For the record, here’s Romney’s “tepid” response to Guy Benson, which sounds pretty unambiguous to me:

“I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they’ve described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity — particularly for those in the middle class of America.  And I think what we’ve seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn’t the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they’re thinking about … It’s interesting that we’re talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he’s doing, and saying ‘why is he running an attack campaign? Why isn’t he talking about his record?'”

Romney is right. Republicans are far better off targeting Obama’s record, rather than his 20-year relationship with Jeremiah Wright. As toxic and offensive as Wright’s sermons and political commentary are, if that line of attack was ineffective in 2008, it’s not going to be effective four years later.

That said, it’s amazing that the story of Obama’s vehemently anti-American, anti-Israel pastor is now so off-limits that a conservative super PAC can’t even consider broaching it without sending the media into a frenzy.