Being a carefree Republican gasbag isn't always as fun as it seems. All they want to do is call President Obama the worst names and insult his heritage. And yet personally attacking the president, as Republican strategists said in what was supposed to be a private conference call today, would seriously turn off the many swing voters needed to win a general election. Having to build majority coalitions on a national scale just takes the joy out of life, doesn't it?

Yahoo! News' Rachel Rose Hartman, who was able to access the private RNC conference call "via a clerical oversight," relays a top pollster's fear that Republicans will go about (continue?) attacking Obama the wrong way:

"We're hesitant to jump on board with heavy attacks" personally against President Obama, Nicholas Thompson, the vice president of Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm, said on the call. "There's a lot of people who feel sorry for him."

Recent polling data indicates that while the president still suffers significantly low job approval ratings, voters still give "high approval" to Obama personally, Thompson said.

Voters "don't think he's an evil man who's out to change the United States" for the worse—even though many of the same survey respondents agree that his policies have harmed the country, Thompson said. The upshot, Thompson stressed, is that Republicans should "exercise some caution" when talking about the president personally.

This is why, for months, we've been hearing Mitt Romney, the candidate with the most advanced polling operation and who's always keeping one eye focused on the general election, hedge his criticisms with lines about Obama like, "He's not a bad guy — he just doesn't have a clue what to do."

Unfortunately, those who do disapprove of Obama personally make up a sizable bloc of Republican base voters, and they want the dirt, the shit talking. This is the sort of fundamental mismatch between short-term incentives and long-term goals that allows Newt Gingrich, a disgraced, unlikable politician from two decades ago, to take a commanding lead both nationally and in most early primary states with only a few weeks to go until voting starts.

[Image via AP]