He and his wife hosted dozens of right-leaning magazine writers and bloggers at an off-the-record Washington, D.C., meeting.
Mitt Romney met with dozens of conservative journalists at a private club in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. Did they press him on the agenda he'll implement as president and report their findings back to the rank-and-file? Nope. It's only because The Huffington Post reported on the meeting that we know about it. "The attendees came from numerous conservative sites and right-of-center publications, including National Review, Daily Caller, American Spectator, Washington Examiner, Right Wing News, Powerline, Townhall, Ace of Spades, Rhiel World View, White House Dossier, and Pajamas Media. RNC chairman Reince Preibus also attended," Michael Calderone reports. "Details of the Romney meeting did not previously leak out because of the off-the-record ground rules. So even though there were as many as 60 writers at the Capitol Hill Club gathering, along with others calling in by phone, they weren't permitted to cover."
Well played, Mitt Romney.
This is how to co-opt journalists. Eager for access to the Republican nominee, or curious about what he'd say at the meeting, they agreed to the off-the-record ground rules. It's easy to imagine how it could all play out. Romney vows he'll be a loyal conservative who'll ambitiously push a Tea Party agenda. And tells the journalists they're so very important. They feel important, in spite of themselves, for getting exclusive access; and having heard the man affirm his bona fides, they can't help but be won over a bit. They go easier on Romney, defending him at times while thinking that they possess private information the rest of us don't know -- stuff that Romney isn't saying publicly because he has to win over swing voters. It's perfect for Romney because he need never be held accountable to what he told the conservative journalists, or at least not nearly as accountable as if he'd been forced to say it on the record.