Video of the Day: Romney Gets Defensive on Fox News

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The front-runner's response to hostile questioning from Megyn Kelly is to lay the sarcasm on thick.

Rick Santorum complained Tuesday -- back before he won both Alabama and Mississippi and his mood brightened -- that Fox News was in the bag for his rival Mitt Romney. That charge doesn't really make much sense at all: Not only have many Fox personalities praised Santorum and bashed Romney, it's the former Massachusetts governor who seems to have trouble whenever he goes on the channel. Back in November, there was his very testy interview with Bret Baier. And an appearance on Megyn Kelly's America Live Wednesday continues the trend.

Romney finds himself in a frustrating situation: his campaign is clearly more disciplined, better organized, and better funded than his rivals', and it's almost mathematically certain at this point that he'll win the nomination. But he can't convince GOP voters to unite around him, and it seems like his annoyance is starting to show in the interview. Kelly came out with some tough questions, and played a clip of him talking about why he thought a federal mandate for health insurance was a good idea. (He instituted such a mandate in Massachusetts and used to support it nationally, but now says he thinks mandates are not an appropriate federal solution.)

But his greatest moment of pique came when Kelly read aloud from an Associated Press article that stated that his losses in Mississippi and Alabama showed that the "core of his party does not want him." That set Romney off. Not in a scream-and-gnash-teeth sort of way -- that isn't his style:

I'm sorry, but they have to go back and look at some other states that actually are kind of important. Let's say Florida, for instance, where I won, and Michigan and Ohio and Nevada and New Hampshire .... Oh, and by the way, last night I got more delegates than anybody else.

This sarcastic tone (watch the video to hear the edge in his voice) seems to be Romney's default when he's backed into a corner. So far, it hasn't been a major problem because he has kept the press at arm's length, but he'll likely be giving more interviews before too long -- either in an effort to seal the deal in the primaries, or else once he's cleared the field and takes on Obama. His tasks for those days ahead: learn to respond to tough questions with more equanimity, and try to avoid insulting diehard Republican states.

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David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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