Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Too Many Mitts

During the 1960 campaign, JFK said he felt sorry for Nixon: “It must be hard getting up every morning and having to decide who you’re going to be that day.”

Now, Mitt Romney’s authenticity problem is front and center. Wobbling into a belated release of some tax returns for whenever, he is, like Nixon back then, still trying to create a real person Republican voters can believe in.

The obvious answer to Romney resistance is that he appears willing (flip-flops, anyone?) to be or do anything to get elected, and GOP voters are uneasy, not because he is too moderate, but because there are too many Mitts.

For better or worse, they have been gravitating to deeply flawed alternatives (Gingrich, anyone?) for almost a year (Bachmann, Cain, Perry) to channel the passion Romney can’t inspire. In this weird year, “electable” has become a synonym for “blah.”

At Bain, Romney was the “presenter” to sell vampire investments in vulnerable companies. That role required an affable pitchman who would not call attention to himself and distract buyers from the product.

Over two election cycles, he has been doing just that on the hustings, selling a product named Romney, when voters are looking for evidence of an actual person. Now that they are choosing a serial adulterer who has taken millions from agencies he now denounces, time is running out for a real Romney, however flawed, to come into focus.

His advisors can be seen tinkering with the robotic version, programming it to get aggressive and telling Florida hecklers to “take a hike,” while rolling out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an attack dog on “Meet the Press” to take bites out of Gingrich.

With a problem so deep, however, the candidate himself may want to give his version of Nixon’s Checkers speech, hopefully less hokey, to tell the American people who that man behind the curtain really is.

Anything would be an improvement over the blur of so many manufactured Mitts.

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