Somebody slap Mitt Romney. Then make him watch his Fox News interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night over and over. He gave answers to Hannity’s questions that were appropriate for a deputy campaign manager at best.
And somebody slap the campaign staffer who said, “Great job, boss,” congratulating the former governor after that interview as they walked out of the studio. Then send that person back to a job in motorcade alignment.
I always hated getting free advice from semi-informed, has-been, know-it-alls when I was in a struggling political environment. I’m sure Romney and his team are getting a lot of it. And right now I would rather be talking about Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency. But this was Romney’s “walk-up” interview to his major CPAC speech! This was his chance to look like a president to the core of the Republican Party.
Hannity asked questions that gave Romney the opportunity to appear as a thoughtful leader or even a statesman. Romney never took the bait. Not even close. Hannity displayed more stature in asking the questions than Romney did in answering them.
It is okay to not be nimble; President George W. Bush never was. But it is absolutely the candidate’s responsibility to be prepared. This was only one interview, but I think it is illustrative of a bigger problem. Romney looks like a president, but he doesn’t hold himself or sound like one. His vocabulary is suited for cocktail party chitchat with a group of campaign donors, not for people yearning for a president to lead. Watch the Hannity interview again.
Why did Romney go on “Hannity”? What did he want to say? What impression did he want to leave with viewers? Clearly, there were no premeditated objectives. In his answers, Romney worked in some mechanical campaign jargon, some forced jibes at Rick Santorum and confusing remembrances of some positions he took as governor; he passed on important national security issues and stumbled on a lay-up about his wife being a great asset for his campaign. No one would confuse the person in this interview for a president.
“This above all: to thine own self be true,” said Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. If Romney and his team can’t see the basic flaws in that interview performance, he should not be our nominee. If he doesn’t perform better, he might not be our nominee. It’s not too late to lose.