The talking heads occasionally make sense. Not often, I’ll admit, but even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while. In the past few days there has been chatter about how Mitt Romney has to re-introduce himself to America. How he has to “humanize” himself. How his stiffness and reticence about sharing his feelings and his perceived lack of a strong connection with ordinary Americans is causing his polling on the issue of “likeability” to suffer.
But what exactly should he say? Should he be talking about his Bain experience? If he was addressing a meeting of Wall Street analysts, I give that option a big thumbs up. Unfortunately he needs to speak to the citizens of the nation. All of them. Not just technocrats or business types.
President Kennedy came from a background of privilege, very similar to that of Mitt Romney. So how did he overcome that “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” anchor and become popular enough to become president? In my opinion, it was the release of his memoir, PT-109.
Was Kennedy’s book totally factual? Probably not. So what did it really accomplish? It created in the minds of voters an impression of a man who would do anything, include risking his life of ease and wealth to protect the men in his command to the best of his ability. He showed that he could rise to an incredible challenge.
Barack Obama’s memoirs provided the same type of mythology for his run for the Presidency. And gave us the same result. We elected a man based on a different myth.
Am I suggesting that Mitt Romney rush a book into print? Of course not. What I am suggesting is that Governor Romney capitalize on the Obama campaigns most scurrilous and disgusting campaign ads that has even been run — the ad that tries to connect Mitt Romney to the death of Joe Soptic’s wife.
Mitt Romney has to simply say that the death of Mrs. Soptic is not something he, or any feeling human being could be blamed for. Cancer is not a weapon, after all. He should add that between he and Obama, the major difference regarding this ad is simply this:
Michelle Obama enjoys remarkable health. Ann Romney has suffered for years from multiple sclerosis. Therefore, Barack Obama could never be able to stand in Joe Soptic’s shoes, but Mitt Romney has been there.
He has been there. He has been terrified for his wife, and regardless of the difference in the wealth of a Mitt Romney versus a Joe Soptic, both he and Soptic have something in common with each other and millions of others throughout the country. And that something is the feeling of being completely and totally powerless to protect the life of the person they love most in the world.
Romney should describe what he, personally, did to get his wife treatment, provide care for her, the five boys, and still carry on as the head of Bain Capital. But he has to be clear that although Bain was just his job, Ann was his life.
When Ann Romney was diagnosed with MS, that was Mitt Romney’s PT-109 moment. That was when every ordinary American could see what sort of stuff this man is made of.
His surrogates should hit the road carrying that message for the next month.
With regard to Joe Soptic and the unfortunate death of his wife, the major difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is that Mitt Romney has been in Joe Soptic’s shoes and would never cheapen the pain and frustration that Soptic feels. Obama, on the other hand, by turning the death of his wife into nothing more than a campaign talking point also shows what sort of man he is.