In today’s Post, Philip Rucker confirms that legitimate enthusiasm for Mitt Romney is growing, as your Insiders said it would some time ago. Romney is an energetic performer who is enjoying himself, is likable, works hard and is (to Democrats) insufferably happy and good-natured.
Romney's true personality is now coming through; or at least, the media can no longer ignore it. If Romney is a little stiff, jumbles his line or is at times awkward on stage, that could be part of his appeal. It makes him authentic. People who are attracted to celebrity admire and expect perfect posing and the ability to glide effortlessly in front of thousands of people who are shouting your name without a hint that you are the slightest bit humbled or even a little embarrassed by the attention. President Obama and Romney couldn't be more different in this regard. And I suspect Romney says "I" and "me" in his presentations a lot less than Obama does.
For a serious, calculating Obama strategist, this emerging strength is particularly worrisome. First, Romney's base is literally and figuratively rallying to Romney's side, earlier than his campaign had hoped. Second, this says that his authenticity and lack of perfection are not only endearing, but also are contrasts with Obama, who strives to appear cool and flawless, perhaps to a fault. A lot of voters must think, "We've tried perfect and smooth, we've been reverent and listened to every excuse, now let's try earnestness, sincerity and enthusiasm. Let's trust someone who doesn't expect the pedestal treatment."
It is also revealing that the Obama campaign has chosen Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to play Romney in their debate rehearsals with the president. On the one hand, Kerry is almost unique in his experience, having participating in the real thing and done a pretty good job against President George W. Bush in 2004. But, true to Sen. Kerry's style, he was arrogant and humorless. During the debates with Bush, he deployed a successful "no smiles, no fun" strategy. That's not Romney.
Obama wants to practice against the opponent he wishes for, not the one he has. Joe Biden would be a better stand-in for Romney than Kerry.