Jewish World Review April 30, 2012/ 8 Iyar, 5772
Will Mitt Romney finally let a hair down?
By Ann McFeatters
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | And now we have the great loosening-up campaign.
The problem? Nobody can really imagine living next door to Mitt Romney, let alone exchanging house keys with him in case of emergency. That is how Howard Baker, the Republican former senator from Tennessee and all-around good guy, once described a hypothetical perfect presidential candidate.
So now that Romney has locked in the GOP nomination, his staff is trying desperately to make him seem more normal. It will be many moons before this capitalist wears a tie again.
First step was to do another Top Ten list with David Letterman. Of the top things Romney wants the American people to know, No. 10 was: "Isn't it time we have a president who looks like a 1970s game-show host?" No. 1 was: "It's a hairpiece." I particularly liked: "My new cologne is now available at Macy's. It's called Mittstified."
Good job, writers. But the remaking is going to be heavy slogging. The same week as the list appearance, Romney also gave a speech calling for Americans to congratulate rich people for their success. Congratulate?
While I am convinced the election will be one of the tightest we've ever had, I also think the issues of wealth and likability will be key.
Although Romney was born into wealth, one of his grandfathers was a Pennsylvania coal miner. This is not the same as being the son of a single mother struggling to make ends meet, which is President Barack Obama's story, but it still has a nice ring to it.
Eager to take advantage of Romney as the son of inherited wealth, Obama remarked recently that he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. That prompted Romney to tell Fox News: "I'm not going to apologize for my dad's success, but I know the president likes to attack fellow Americans. He's always looking for a scapegoat, particularly those that have been successful like my dad, and I'm not going to rise to that." Oh no. Wouldn't be prudent.
When John Kerry, running for president in 2004, was photographed wind-surfing, it was a killer image. And not in a good sense. It is a sport more likely to be indulged in by the wealthy than the rest of us, and the picture did Kerry a lot of harm. When George H.W. Bush seemed not to understand supermarket scanners (a false perception -- he used to shop at Safeway and was being shown a new state-of-the-art scanner), it reinforced the idea that he was out of touch.
That is what Romney is up against -- the common perception that he is stiff, out of touch with common concerns and defensive about his vast wealth, increased by a job in which he fired a lot of people.
So here are some suggestions for the Romney campaign on more ways to make the boss come across as a regular guy.
-- Take a month off the campaign trail and work at McDonald's.
-- Join a bowling league.
-- Eat the cookie and do not complain because it came from a popular local bakery.
-- Wash and wax Ann Romney's two Cadillacs.
-- Stop having the jeans ironed.
On the other hand, remember when Jimmy Carter started carrying his own garment bag as the Secret Service traipsed along beside him? Painful.
A man's gotta be what a man's gotta be. Americans don't like phonies or people who try too hard.
There really isn't much the staff can do to make Romney into Everyman. Won't happen.
How about putting the tie back on, stop trash-talking Obama and give us sound, workable ideas for fixing the economy? Pretend we're grown-ups who aren't swayed by gimmicks.
Americans don't resent success. But they want fairness and even playing fields and equal opportunities. And please, Candidate Romney, stop telling us we should congratulate you for being rich. It's unseemly.
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