- Congressman: McAuliffe victory means gun control a winning message
- Clinton aide admits soliciting disgraced D.C. fundraiser; says actions were legal
- Joel Osteen church victimized in $600K theft
- Obama goes shopping at Gap as minimum-wage thanks
- N.J. woman charged after client dies from black-market butt injections
- CIA chief Brennan ‘determined’ to speak out more this year
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- 9/11 terror recruiter released in Syrian prisoner swap
- D.C. elections board gives green light to marijuana legalization initiative
- Elephants can tell difference between human languages: study
To get a grasp on Mitt Romney, start with the lesson of the muffin
Not a robot, ‘prankster’ attempts to shed ‘mask’
Ready to risk?
During the Republican primary season, Mr. Romney registered historically low likability ratings — in part because his detached style and discomfort with meet-and-greet retail politicking made it difficult for him to connect with voters, in part because the psychological firewall he erects between his public and private lives made it hard for his campaign to provide the public with a clear sense of his personality.
Opponents such as President Obama and Newt Gingrich have eagerly filled in the resulting Etch-a-Sketch, caricaturing Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch moneybags, a rapacious vulture capitalist and — in the memorable words of Mike Huckabee — the “guy who laid you off.”
Conservative voters have struggled with a similar question: Ideologically speaking, what does Mr. Romney actually believe?
In Massachusetts, Mr. Romney ran for Senate and governor as a moderate Republican, expressing support for abortion rights, limited gun control and gay rights; in 2008, however, he ran for president as a social conservative, expressing changes of heart on all three issues.
From an outcome-oriented, engineering perspective, the shifts made perfect sense: Massachusetts was a liberal state unlikely to elect a hard-right candidate, while Mr. Romney’s best chance to defeat primary rivals Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mr. McCain was to tack right and woo disaffected religious conservatives.
From a political standpoint, however, Mr. Romney’s reversals further muddled his already enigmatic image.
At the most recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, billionaire Foster Friess introduced presidential candidate Rick Santorum by joking, “A conservative, a moderate and a liberal walked into a bar — and the bartender looked at him and said, ‘What’ll it be, Mitt?’”
Mr. Romney seems aware of his political shortcomings. His recent selection of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as a running mate was hailed by many observers as uncharacteristically bold, even risky — but also can be read as a savvy, calculated move to boost enthusiasm and shore up support among the Republican conservative base.
According to a New York Times report, the Romney campaign will use the Republican National Convention as way to paint a “full and revealing portrait” of the candidate: highlighting his work as a Mormon bishop, for example, and showing biographical videos from a $2.5 million Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired theatrical stage intended to convey “openness and approachability.”
“Clearly, [the Romney campaign] has decided on some kind of tactical shift to open up more,” Mr. Helman said. “Is there a risk that you’re going to turn people off? Sure. But I think they’ve calculated the bigger risk is to have him seem sort of inhuman.”
The race for the White House is many things: democracy in action; a cable news carnival; an ingenious way of redistributing wealth from eccentric billionaires to swing-state television stations. Mostly, though, it’s an extended job interview. Mr. Romney beat out his Republican primary rivals largely on the strength of his resume — but his general election fate may be determined in part by his willingness to share the rest of himself and risk rejection in the process.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
TWT Video Picks
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- Brennan: Russia 'absolutely' could invade eastern Ukraine
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Atheists sue to remove 'Ground Zero Cross' from 9/11 museum
- CARNES: Kissinger's flawed and offensive analysis of Ukraine
- HURT: John Kerry The ridiculous face of a ridiculous U.S. diplomacy
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again