Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2011/ 4 Teves, 5772
Mitt Romney Is Wild Like a Stallion
By Roger Simon
He glides into Music Man Square, a painstaking re-creation of the set for the famous movie bearing the same name, where a small Iowa town in 1912 is waiting for Harold Hill to lead 76 trombones down the street.
Hill was, of course, a con man. But he is saved at the end of the movie by the powers of hope, trust and love.
These are three themes that Mitt Romney does very well these days.
Romney enters not to any of the famous tunes from the show, but to Romney's theme song, "Born Free" by Kid Rock. It is a throbbing, beat-heavy song designed to inject energy into events.
A crowd of a few hundred encloses him on three sides and a camera platform is in front of him.
Romney is wearing blue jeans and an open-neck, windowpane patterned shirt. His hair is carefully tousled with one forelock falling forward, something he occasionally brushes back as if to say, "See? You can improve on perfection."
Romney jumps up on a wrought iron chair, the better for the crowd to see him. While the TV cameras are loving the kitschy setting and Romney balancing on a none-too-stable chair, an aide moves forward to help if Romney takes a nosedive.
"I am more balanced than you think; just catch me if I come down," Romney says.
And could anybody deliver a pithier analysis of his entire campaign than that? (It is short enough to be a tweet!)
A graph of Romney's polling would reveal no huge spikes and no huge nosedives. It is nearer to a flatline, which may turn out to be a lifeline.
"We are an opportunity nation; we can rise above our birth," says Romney, who was born into wealth. When he was 7, his father became chairman and CEO of American Motors — and became wealthier himself.
"I don't think our president understands America," Romney continues. "I think he is trying to change us to be more like Europe — an entitlement society!"
Europe is Romney's idea of hell. It is a place where people pay high taxes and get free stuff (like medical care) instead of working hard and paying high prices (for medical care) like real Americans do.
Romney talks about the World's Fair of 1851 in London where America sent a McCormick reaper as its showcase invention. "It could do the work of 40 people!" Romney says (and this being a Republican crowd, nobody asks what those 40 people were now supposed to do for a living.) "We could feed the world."
"I love this country," Romney goes on. "If president, I will do everything to keep America strong and be the hope of the earth."
He takes questions and the first one comes from a man who says he has voted for Republicans for 40 years, but once they get to the White House, they always give in on conservative principles. He wants to know if Romney, too, will give in.
"This is not the next step on my political career," Romney replies. "I don't have a political career. The reason I am in this race is because of the lessons I have learned: I'll use all my energy and passion to get America right again."
Which does not exactly answer the question, but the crowd likes it anyway. Although some conservatives feel Romney is not conservative enough, Romney comes closer to Ronald Reagan in his speeches than any other candidate.
As Reagan did when running his 1980 campaign, Romney talks about American goodness, decency and exceptionalism and how it can all disappear if Republicans choose the wrong nominee or the country chooses the wrong president.
A woman asks about Iran and North Korea, and Romney's reply can be seen as a subtle dig at Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and a few others in the Republican field that Romney finds as unsteady as the chair upon which he is balancing.
"Being president is about judgment, sobriety of character and the wisdom to make decisions we can't even contemplate today," Romney says.
An 8-year-old boy with a Romney sticker on his forehead asks if it is hard to run for president.
"Yes and no," Romney replies. "I know that sounds like a politician. I'm sorry."
Everybody laughs. Romney then tells the lad that as a presidential candidate he has to get up early, sleep in a different hotel room every night and sometimes truck drivers toot their big horns to say hello, but that he likes meeting new people and shaking their hands.
Here, Romney, like at the end of almost every one of his answers, takes a tiny turn away from the questioner and toward the camera stand so his sound bite will be captured perfectly.
"The measure of a person's life," Romney says, "is not how much stuff they have, but the people they love. Thank you."
That may be something Romney once read on a fortune cookie, but it does not matter. It plays.
Romney has learned a lot in four years. He is smoother and more confident. Let other candidates fly too close to the sun and then crash into the sea. Mitt Romney prefers the steady course.
After he is done and gets off the chair, there is no rope line to separate him from the people. Instead, the crowd surges forward. Romney is thronged, mobbed, hugged and kissed. He smiles, he poses for cellphone pictures, he grips and he grins.
"Born Free" surges once again through the speakers. "Wild like an untamed stallion," Kid Rock sings. "If you can't see my heart, you must be blind."
Ride 'em, Mitt!
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate