The spotlight was on Mitt Romney yesterday at the Republican gathering in Manchester, New Hampshire, purportedly a summit on jobs and the economy, but also a showcase of five Republican presidential hopefuls, including Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Romney. Many interpreted the summit as Romney's unofficial debut as a 2012 candidate.
And, it seems that Romney got off to a difficult start. The Atlantic writes:
Romney was off in just about every facet of his performance... [He] remains an exceptionally unnatural public speaker... His tone and affect are like that of an adult doing a dramatic reading of a pirate story to a wide-eyed three year old.
But the low point no doubt was when Romney made a Jimmy Carter-Barack Obama comparison: "Reagan came up with this great thing about the ‘misery index’ and he hung that around Jimmy Carter’s neck and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing," and then added, "Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck." But then he realized mid-sentence the trouble with making a metaphor about hanging a black man. The Boston Globe reports:
Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.
Video of the comment is below. Romney spokesman Andrea Saul emailed CNN regarding questions over his comment, "It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he actually said. It's a ridiculous exaggeration of his actual comments."