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Jewish World Review
April 6, 2012/ 14 Nissan, 5772
We do want the fake Romney, not the 'real' one
Republican image-makers are gearing up for a formidable task this fall: How to make Mitt Romney seem like a Regular Guy.
The idea is that Americans are more likely to vote for somebody they can relate to -- somebody they'd like to have a beer with, in political parlance.
But that kind of Regular Guy-ism won't work with Romney. As a Mormon, he doesn't drink, and his response to voters would be: "But I do have a lot of friends who own breweries." (At the Daytona speedway, he said he wasn't a racing fan but that some of the team owners were his good friends.)
During the primaries, he often appears in jeans -- designer jeans, to be sure -- and shirtsleeves. It really doesn't work. There's no way he can appear to be fresh from wrangling dogies, whatever a dogie is, up on the Wind River Canyon when his trade is wrangling $60 billion in investment capital from an aerie high up in Boston's John Hancock Center.
Romney is not a natural politician. When stressed, he gets awkward. He told an audience that what he liked about his native Michigan was that "the trees are just the right height."
That set an instantly puzzled audience to wondering: "What is the right height for a tree? Is my state suffering from too much shade because the trees are too tall?" If he's elected president, will he rectify the tree heights in all 50 states, or only the ones -- the states, not the trees -- that voted for him?
He introduced a new term into the campaign lexicon -- "severely conservative" -- which, admittedly, is better than the usual expression "political Neanderthal."
Romney was singed in the last presidential election by having hired a landscape service that, as it happened, employed illegals. This is one of those "gotchas" that are great fun for political opponents, but the general public doesn't really care.
What the average Joe with a lawn problem wants to know is: How much did they charge? And are they any good?
Romney's reply when the charge came up again this time around was, "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake. We can't have illegals."
Romney should embrace his inner stiffness. And forget the teleprompter. This fall, in President Barack Obama, he will be facing the Heifetz of the teleprompter.
And he should forget about seeking common ground with the common man. It's invariably a disaster, as when Romney, who had earned $42.7 million over the last two years, told a group of the jobless in Florida that he, too, was unemployed.
The fact is that American voters probably care less about the appearance of his great wealth than he does. Any voter worth north of $190 million would have $10 million-plus cribs on both coasts, too.
The worst thing he could do is act on the advice of his closest advisers, including his wife, who believe that if we saw the "real" Romney we wouldn't even wait until November to vote for him.
One adviser, quoted in an upcoming book on the 2012 campaign, says Romney needs to "open up the kimono." And his wife, Ann, says, "I guess we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out."
Believe me, you don't want voters to have those images in their heads when they go to vote. Much better the stiff, buttoned and zipped Romney.
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© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
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