February 16, 2014

Mitt Romney has kicked off 2014 with something of a media blitz. He did an interview with the New York Times in which he provocatively swore off a third presidential bid: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no.” He did a wide-ranging interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace in which he graciously accepted the apology of an MSNBC host for deriding his family. And he penned a USA Today op-ed decrying the $50 billion spent to stage the Sochi Winter Olympics: “Waste is harm, particularly when need is as great as it is. Harm occurs when a country spends more than it can afford to keep up appearances with the big spenders. Harm occurs when a country is excluded from hosting an Olympics because it can’t afford the fabulous frills. And harm occurs when the world’s poor look in anguish at the excess.”
Today he chatted with host David Gregory on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” where he repeated his attack on bloated sports festivals: “Olympic sport can be demonstrated at 2 or 3 billion dollars. And all that extra money can be used to do some very important things,” he told Gregory.

Elsewhere in the session, Romney addressed economic policy, lamenting that the five-year-old stimulus bill didn’t meet expectations; the possibility that a third run at president would be the charm, as it was for Ronald Reagan: “I’m not Ronald Reagan, I think that’s been pointed out to me before”; the recycling of Bill Clinton’s White House indiscretions amid talk of a Hillary Rodham Clinton run in 2016: “He breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in his relationship and I think that’s very unfortunate, but I don’t think that’s Hillary Clinton’s to explain.”

Romney is an actual, honest-to-goodness family man, giving him the authority to deliver such a rebuke to Bill Clinton, yet he stops wisely short of taking the issue further. Measured, reasonable, experienced, serious, gracious — the Erik Wemple Blog could get used to more Mitt Romney on the television screen. Book him!

Fairness does require, however, that we note the one moment on “Meet the Press” where Romney stumbled. Gregory placed before him the essential question about same-sex marriage: Has its spread to 17 states and the District of Columbia had a negative impact on society? The former presidential candidate repeated his point that “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman” among other question-dodging talking points.

Not good enough for Gregory, who went back at him: “Do you think it’s actually had a negative impact on society that you have so many states now recognizing it?”

Romney: “I think it’s going to take a long, long time to determine whether having gay marriage will make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there’s a mom and a dad. That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s something that happens over generations.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.