Mitt Romney isn't having an easy go of it the second time around. First, Sarah Palin is headed to New Hampshire, stealing some of the spotlight from his big announcement just now. And then the cable networks carrying it live dropped him one by one, first MSNBC and Fox, and finally CNN, too. (Bet if he'd made a Weinergate reference they'd have stuck with him longer.)
Romney isn't a passion-and-charisma candidate, so his best bet is to focus on the economy. For the most part, he did this--and quite successfully, I thought. After his standard throat-clearing about America veering toward socialism, and the over-wrought comparisons with Europe, which always fall flat for me, Romney drew a fairly devastating portrait of the country's economic condition. He's trying to get the term "President Obama's misery index" to catch on, obviously intending to evoke Jimmy Carter (although he fell flat the last time he tried this in New Hampshire.) At the end of his riff, he declared, "Barack Obama has failed America." Then he segued into a discussion of his business career, and how he had approached difficult problems: "Ask tough questions, take on the toughest problems first." he said. I always find Romney most convincing when talking about his business experience. He certainly was here; he seemed comfortable, confident, and didn't trip the way he often does over his scripted lines. Of the various political personas he has inhabited over the years--from liberal Massachusetts governor to social-conservative firebrand the last time he ran for president--the current one is truest to his actual background. You can see glimpses of a plausible Republican frontrunner.
But I didn't see many of them, not through any failing of Romney's but because I'm in Washington watching--or trying to watch--on cable. And they've all cut away. Oh, well. Back to Weinergate, I guess.
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