Mitt’s Moment: Can Romney Finally Open Up?

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Cover Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME

If Mitt Romney found it easy to open up, he would have done it by now. He has been running for President for at least five years and maybe more — maybe a lifetime. Along the way, Romney has gone from speech to interview to televised debate; he has talked relentlessly through summer, fall, winter and spring, morning, noon and night, indoors and outdoors, in sickness and in health. Every utterance was a new chance to reveal something of himself.

All of it led here, to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where he will accept the GOP nomination on Thursday night and launch the last stage of his quest. Yet despite all that talking — Mitt, we hardly know ye. For a person to be at once so public and so opaque cannot be an accident. It’s accomplished only through disciplined effort. His friends say that undecided voters would love Romney if they could just get to know him. Perhaps that’s true. We won’t know until he tries.

(Download: The CNN-TIME Convention Floor Pass Mobile App)

His acceptance speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum offers another opportunity, perhaps the best one yet. It’s certainly the most important one. As former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer suggests, Americans have a pretty good handle on President Obama — or they feel like they do. The lesser-known Romney has a chance to “show more of who he is,” says Fleischer, and forge a stronger connection. A chance, in other words, to make headway in a race that has changed little since Romney emerged from the Republican primaries last spring as Obama’s challenger.

The idea that Romney is positioned to take command of the race is shared by a lot of party operatives at this cautiously optimistic convention. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell reports excitedly that the race is a virtual dead heat in his key swing state. RealClearPolitics.com‘s average of polls suggests that Romney has just about closed the gap in the critical states of Ohio and Florida. In his analysis of the Electoral College map this week, veteran political analyst Stuart Rothenberg concluded that Romney would be well on his way to the White House if he could manage to sweep those three states.

(PHOTOS: The Art of Political Stagecraft)

Meanwhile, Romney has been sitting on a tremendous pile of cash that was raised for the general election. Now he is legally permitted to spend it. Super PACs supporting Romney are geared up to spend even more. “He survived a $200 million barrage of negative ads this summer, and the race is still tied,” says one leading GOP fundraiser. “Now he can start moving up.”

The missing piece is one only the candidate can provide. “Human would be helpful,” said one senior Republican when asked what Romney needs to accomplish in his speech. It was a typical response. “He needs to show that he understands how hard this economy is for people,” said another longtime strategist, who added, “Mrs. Romney made a start on that” in her Tuesday-night speech, “but ultimately it has to come from the candidate.”

(PHOTOS: Republican National Convention 2012)

And that has not come easily. Romney’s address has been through multiple drafts, and the candidate was still working on it with his speechwriters as conventioneers gathered in Tampa. In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Aug. 24, Romney reported that, unlike his wife Ann’s speech, “mine is still a work in progress, kind of early-stage, so I’m still working hard.” Given that the campaign has known for months that this moment was coming, that’s an awfully late date to be at an early stage.

Perhaps part of the trouble is that self-revelation goes against everything Romney personifies. As a successful businessman, he was known for cool analysis, not warm charisma. The son of a popular governor and presidential candidate, and later the boss of a large consulting company — frequently the smartest, best-looking and richest guy in the room — Romney has learned to turn the spotlight away from himself to make up for his own unease. Even in the midst of his coronation, he joked bashfully in taped remarks to a Women for Romney event on Wednesday that “the delegates may have decided to nominate Ann instead.”

(PHOTOS: The Rich History of Mitt Romney)

Musing, he continued, “And wouldn’t that be interesting? And do you think if Ann were the nominee, the press would write stories about how my job is to humanize Ann?” He seemed almost to resent the idea that voters would like to know more about him.

Romney has built his campaign around convincing voters that he can handle the economy — and his poll numbers indicate success. He leads Obama by a large margin on that score.

But the relationship between a nation and its leader is far more complex than the relationship between shareholders and a CEO. Intangibles like trust and forgiveness enter the equation in powerful ways, and those factors take root in the gut, not just the brainpan. Romney’s challenge in the final phase of the campaign — the phase that starts on Thursday — is to respect that reality and give voters the human material they need to make their crucial gut check.

VIDEO: The Latest from Tampa

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formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

A lot of comment focuses on Clint Eastwood's performance, calling it weird and strange.  It seemed to me to be standard, common Republican crazy.  I don't see how Eastwood's bizarre rant  is different from the average Republican nut case.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

To answer the question, no he can't, not even with Dirty Harry and Dirty Marco to lead the way.  He is a lying klutz, cheered by a boorish audience.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Marco Rubio just pledged allegiance to Cuba and tred to sell Mitt Romney with a Horatio Alger story.  Marco Rubio is not quite American and Mitt Romney is not Horatio Alger.

sacredh
sacredh

I saw a black man in the audience at the convention this evening. He looked lonely. At least nobody was throwing peanuts at him.

sacredh
sacredh

I had to turn the tv off. They wheeled a huge cake out on the stage and Mitt popped out of it. It's a good thing the icing covered the nether regions. When Ann started licking it off....well...I just couldn't be a witness. 

George McDowell
George McDowell

Ryan is truly a piece of work. For most of his adult life, taxpayers

have paid his salary, provided his health insurance and funded a nice

pension. He hates government, but enjoys the perks.

Ryan and his

Republican cohorts in Congress really get wacky with Social Security.

They want to turn it into a giant 401(k) for future generations.

The

scam comes full circle with their enthusiasm for the likes of the JOBS

Act. The law, Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups, does nothing more than

strip ordinary investors of basic protections from the securities

industry. Administration officials have resisted a push to quickly put

the law into effect.

Romney and Ryan make stuff up about the

Affordable Care Act's impact on Medicare. It gets worse with promises to

rein in the federal deficit. Ryan's arithmetic is particularly

inventive and, um, lacking in details.

He wants more tax cuts, and

lots more spending on the military. So how to balance the costs and

loss of revenue? By eliminating tax breaks. Whose? He never gets that

far. The scary part is Ryan chairs the House Budget Committee.

Ryan

has trouble admitting he pursued budget earmarks and stimulus money.

Same as Romney and the 2002 Winter Olympics he claims to have salvaged.

Well, yes, with the help of a $2.7 billion federal bailout for Salt Lake

City infrastructure and management of the games.

Did you hear a lot about foreign policy at the GOP convention? What are they going to do, bring back Condoleezza Rice? Oh.

Everyone

knows the GOP opposes a woman's right to make her own decisions about

health care and pregnancy without interference by government. I suspect

the issue goes deeper than Roe v. Wade; back to Griswold v. Connecticut

and the right to use contraception.

The convention is over, and

Romney and Ryan are still strangers to the country. Try this: Imagine

Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover on the same ticket.

 

Steelsil
Steelsil

 Flippity-floppity-flippity - Romney did / did not take any effort to

avoid the draft. He is / is not pro-choice.  He did / did not run Bain

in 2010.  What do we know?  He kept his money in offshore tax havens, he

started Bain Capital with money from people who ran DeathSquads that

KilledPriestsandNuns, he shipped jobs from the US to China, he looted

pension funds at companies he destroyed, he made money from a giant

fraud perpetrated against Medicare, and he made big bucks disposing of

aborted fetuses.  The Vulture Capitalist and his LittleOld LadyKiller

want to profit from destroying America the way that Romney profited from

destroying American companies.  Don't let them!

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I have some ideas.  Trash the speech of lies and just have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing.

Promise to hire a full time priest for Ryan to confess to after each lie.  

Pray for the debates when you will meet President Obama, who will surely thrash you beyond anything you saw in the Republican primary debates.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I wouldn't buy a new or used car from these fools.  Ryan is going to have to live with his acceptance speech of lies, and it can't be good.  Only a pathological liar would venture that. 

Tonight it's Romney's turn to offer lies to these Republican idiots.  This may be one convention bounce that goes the other way, and the Dems get the last convention word.  

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

 

The dynamic duo of Romney and Ryan would drive the entire

economy into a nose dive as long as it benefits the richest Americans.  Income inequality is endangering the Middle

Class and making paupers of us all who don’t have those millions upon millions

of dollars.   Read more about the role of

Romney’s riches in this election and the power of his sacred undergarments at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...  The working class of our country can’t AFFORD

to allow this election to be bought and sold!

dru_down
dru_down

Sadly, whether Romney "opens up" is immaterial, i.e., Reagan is the first in a successive line of "figurehead Presidents". There is nothing about Romney the person that is going to change the republican party's agenda. Conspicuously, when the republicans inherited the White House AND Congress in 2000, there was a record surplus. So how can anyone credibly contend that Romney/Ryan's policies are going to "turnaround" the results of last republican regime's fiscal/military/diplomatic policy? Puzzling. Our fiscal woes are not going to be solved by cutting taxes, deregulating industry and occupying Arab sovereigns. We need a Democratic Congress and White House to effectuate change.

apr2563
apr2563

Look at the Mitten's beatific smile.  It continually speaks to his sincerety. 

filmnoia
filmnoia

First words out of his mouth tonight -

"I  just love Florida. The alligators are so cute and it's where the swamps are the right depth. " He'll be playing the "good cop" to Ryan's mendacious "bad cop" of last night. It's all so transparent, because when Willard does open up there is nothing inside.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

The Republicans are lower than an alligator's belly.  

Darrel K.Ratliff
Darrel K.Ratliff

How do you keep a political promise  to people when Congress Kills the funding  or tried for the past 3 years to do anything but cooperate and help the Middle class survive the turmoil.. The First change the Republicans need is a change of workplace  from the DC address back to their home state  be banned from working for any solicitor group  or others that are in congress till 5 years have come and gone.  Set congressional pay based on need and the average income of their constituents not to exceed  median income of the voter base of his district for all the government based income received including pensions from previous government work.

Immir
Immir

Romney will have a hard time out-lying Ryan, but I'm sure Mr. Etch a Sketch is up for it!

BTW, where are those tax returns Willard?

Ivan
Ivan

Obama, stand up to china...else you will lose my vote...

Steelsil
Steelsil

 Apparently you missed Romney's speech praising China - He thinks it's wonderful how quickly you can accomplish things when there's no democracy to get in the way.

valmach
valmach

Liar Liar pants on fire.. Give up those Tax Returns.

valmach
valmach

Mitts A Liar, Ryan is a Liar, His Wife is a Liar and has magical  secret bank accounts, and a dancing horse The Republican Party is Racist, morphing into Nazi's , Mitts religion can prove claims , that Black People are Devils,- Old Warmongers on stage, Black Apostates on stage - This is better than the Cirque du Soleil waiting for the live sex scene.. It is Tampa...

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Put your helmet back on we don't want you to have another head injury.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"Mitt’s Moment: Can Romney Finally Open Up?"

Not if he wants to get elected. His personality is bereft of normal human empathy, his personal and professional story is unrelatable to 99% of the public and his "public service" is unpalatable to his base. He'll continue to obfuscate and lie his way to to the White House, because that's his only chance. But you already knew that.

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

Let's deal with reality and keep things in perspective.  No matter how eloquent you think Ryan is, if you think he is, he still has clearly and emphatically demonstrated he is one of the "puppets" owned and controlled by "the money" who literally "pull his strings".   He clearly proved that with his performance in constantly siding with Boehner, Cantor, Bachmann and the others to arrogantly fault and stubbornly block all efforts to address the problems, putting their political ambitions above all else no matter what the costs to the people, and in constantly irresponsibly withholding any bipartisan compromise or cooperation.  He then further substantiated his loyalty to "the money" and his disregard for the majority with the Ryan Budget that deceptively advocated putting more costs on the middle-class while just giving more unreasonable concessions to "the money".  No matter how impressive or concerned for the people he may now seem, the truth is that he is owned and controlled by "the money" and the current subterfuge is just aimed to present an attractive but false image.  And all he ever offers is to try to blame Obama for everything.  To be conned by that is just asking to be further duped, used and abused.

politathiest
politathiest

By conservatives own standards, Reagan was more worthy of being boosted than Obama......facts are a B-TCH .....how soon they forget. To tweeks a line from Reagan to be applied to his presidency....."conservatives....TEAR DOWN THIS MYTH". READ AND WEEP To others, feel free to spread this under the whiny twins posts wherevver you can.

If there are two things that Republicans want us to believe, it would be these: 1. Barack Obama’s economic policies are a failure which made the recession worse. 2. Ronald Reagan was an economic genius who should serve as an example of how to improve the economy.

The best way to examine both of these statements is to compare how these 2 presidents handled the economy during their first 3 years as president.

It’s fair to say that when any new president takes office, it takes a few months for their economic policies to have an effect on the economy. So you have to look at the condition of the economy when they took office and how it responded after the new president’s policies have had time to take effect.

Both Reagan and Obama took office when unemployment was considered fairly high. In February, 1981, Reagan’s first full month as president, unemployment was at 7.4% and was slowly improving. It dropped down to 7.2% by April, his third month in office.

In February, 2009, Obama’s first full month in office, unemployment was at 8.2% and rising rapidly. The economy was already losing 750,000 jobs per month before Obama was sworn in.

Look closely at what happened during each president’s first 2 years in office. By October, 2009, Obama’s 9th month in office, unemployment peaked at 10.1%. After that, we started to see job growth and the unemployment rate declined over the next 2 years. The longer his policies were in effect, the more the economy improved.

Compare that to what happened during Reagan’s first two years. Although unemployment was stable when he first took office, after about 7 months, it started rising. After his first full year, unemployment climbed to 8.5% and it continued to rise throughout his 2nd year. Nearly two full years after Reagan took office, unemployment was at 10.8%, higher than it ever reached under Obama. It wasn’t until nearly 2 ½ years into Reagan’s presidency that unemployment finally dropped below 10%.

There is a stark contrast between what happened with Reagan and what happened with Obama. Under Obama, unemployment briefly topped 10% during his first year and then began to go down. Under Reagan, unemployment remained above 10% for the better part of a year.

Most of the job losses that occurred during Obama’s presidency happened during the first few months as a result of the deep recession that began a year before he took office. Less than a year into his term, the economy showed steady improvement. By contrast, the job losses under Reagan didn’t begin until about six months after he became president and continued to get worse for the next 18 months.

The severity of the economic crisis that Obama inherited cannot be over-emphasized. Not since the Great Depression had we seen such massive job losses as were occurring at the time Obama was sworn in. It would be difficult to find any other time in our country’s history when 750,000 jobs were lost in a single month. Economists predicted that we would have 20% unemployment within a year. It is remarkable that unemployment peaked at only 10.1% and that the economy began improving as quickly as it did.

Obama clearly inherited a far worse economic situation than Reagan did. Yet he managed to turn around the economy in less than half the time it took Reagan. Obama’s policies resulted in a measurable improvement within a year of taking office, while Reagan’s policies resulted in a worsening of the unemployment situation for two years.

In reviewing Obama’s accomplishment, there are other factors that need to be considered in this comparison. When Reagan was president, Democrats in the House of Representatives who opposed him were willing to make compromises and to work with him in creating jobs. They didn’t see their role as simply to obstruct everything he did.

The Republicans who oppose President Obama have tried to prevent anything from getting done at all with regard to the economy. During the first 2 years, Republicans in the Senate filibustered virtually everything they could; including bills they previously supported, in order to prevent any legislation from coming up for a vote. After gaining control of the House of Representatives, Republicans refused to pass any job creation bills at all, even rejecting proposals that they had supported in previous years.

Despite Republican attempts to stifle job creation, President Obama has managed to have far greater success at pulling the country out of a recession than the sainted Ronald Reagan did during his first 3 years in office.

vstillwell
vstillwell

How about an in-depth piece on policies, Time? 

sacredh
sacredh

"His acceptance speech at the Tampa Bay Times Forum offers another opportunity, perhaps the best one yet."

.

I'd change that to "Possibly the last one".  Mitt doesn't do the human thing very well. For the last week the press has been all Romney, all the time. The spotlight is squarely on Mitt now.He doesn't win this time, it's very unlikely he gets another shot.

spwright1
spwright1

8/30/12 

So Ask Yourself this Question :

Would You TRUST a Wall Street Investment Banker ? Yes or No ?

Very Simple Question ?

Then ask Yourself IF You can Trust Mitt Romney ?  Yes or No ?

SPW"Airborne"

COfoEVA
COfoEVA

They would love him if they just got to know him! Hahahaha.  Why don't we ask the people who serve him and clean up after him.  I wonder what they would say?

BindyH
BindyH

I am so freakin p.o that the republicans blocked every single job measures- 17 in all- and the "people" don't think OBAMA is doing a good job on the economy! Really? It must be almost hard to be that stupid.

Cesar Borgia
Cesar Borgia

 The Republicans know that the best way to put themselves back in power is to keep Americans out of a job. 

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

 Nah, I think it's easier that way.  Look at our resident right-wing trolls.  It's far easier to just write "libtard" and "Obummer" and "Moochelle" rather than spend a nanosecond thinking.

Anyone else remember the Simpsons when Homer put the crayon back up his nose?  And the letter he wrote to Lisa? 

politathiest
politathiest

Romney aid. - "we won't let fact checkers get in the way of our campaign"

politathiest
politathiest

Do you think Romney will be "shaking his etch-a-scetch" tonight to try and convince the public he really isn't a member of the John Birch society......or will it replace his teleprompter.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

Want to get to know Mitt?  Here, let me assist:

http://www.rollingstone.com/po... 

If you can get past Taibbi's colorful language there are a lot of interesting stories told by others about how Mitt functioned when he was directly involved in Bain.

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/28/... 

Gross asks some leading questions but the guys she's interviewing do a good job of trying to be honest and fair about what they learned about Mitt while researching their biography.

The Fresh Air interview is the more interesting of the two pieces IMO. I was struck by the contrast between Mitt and George Romney. Granted, it was a different era and a very different GOP than we know now but in everything I've read about him, George Romney struck me as a mature, serious, and honorable politician. He walked out on Goldwater at the convention because he believed that the sort of extremism BG represented was bad for the party and bad for the country. Flash forward to today and look at Mitt who hasn't articulate any principle that he hasn't been on both sides of at one time or another. George seemed to know who he was and was very solid and consistent in his beliefs. I wonder what Mitt's father would say about the guy who's accepting the GOP's nomination this evening....

politathiest
politathiest

The Grand Conspiracies special code.

"we want EVERYBODY to have their taxes cut". =. "as long as the rich have a bigger one and actualy cost middle class about $1300 more"

"we need to cut taxes on the job producers to get economy going". =. "We rich don't get our way on taxes, well take our offshore money elsewhere"

Class warfare is "devisive" =. "We need to continue the middle class economic genocde"

"a rising tide raises all boats". =. "Then we can have room to replace average workers boats with our bigger yachts"

"We want to give everyone a chance to work hard and succeed". =. "As long as they can make due on minimum wage while we give ourselves extragegant stock bonuses".

"we want government to stop stiffling business to create jobs". =. "We want cover to be able to continue to screw the American people over and over and over and over...until we own EVERYTHING".

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Mitt's Moment: Can Romney Finally Say Something Substantial?

RealityBitesU
RealityBitesU

The G.O.P. (Greedy Old Pukes) actually said that was their strategy. Another recent article came out re: this. 

RealityBitesU
RealityBitesU

 Who is Womney?  He destroys records of his past activities so no one will know what he's been doing then he says "Trust me". He won't even let us glimpse into his financial affairs and business,via tax returns, he just says "Give me the job, I'm entitled". "You people know all you need to know, gimme." If Romeny doesn't trust us there is no reason whatsoever  to trust him.

charlieromeobravo
charlieromeobravo

He hasn't destroyed his records, he just denies they exist and seems flabbergasted when someone calls him on it.  There's plenty of evidence of his handiwork at Bain and there's certainly gobs of info on the positions that he held as Mass Gov, almost all of which he has flipped on now.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Romney is living proof that a leopard can’t change his spots. He was born rich, stayed rich, and got even richer (on the backs of fired workers and mountains of other people’s debt, but I digress). He’s lived life with a sense of entitlement and has remained detached from common peasants. How the hell does one expect him to change now? 

.

Warren Buffett has maintained some common touch while becoming even richer than Romney, and he has a popular following. On the other hand, Nixon grew up mean and cynical, but he really did grow up while poor. Romney didn’t. If Romney is living proof of our version of European class structure and royalty, I’m glad we broke away from that.

groovecity
groovecity

Yeah decon, keep that meme alive. Success is bad, avoid it at all cost! How dare someone have more money than someone else.

.

Liberals are so dishonest, even to themselves, and they think their twisted philosophy is shared by the world just because they can get a few likes on a blog full of leftwing loons. You're outcasts, wackos, you're not mainstream America. I hate to burst your bubble. I'll vote for a rich man with a proven success record at creating jobs, thousands of them. You can continue to kiss the ass of a commie hippie.

EVEN THE SCORE!!

MAKE EVERYONE POOR!! 

OBAMA 2012!!

iamsosure
iamsosure

So what you're saying is: Mitt Romney, the slimiest, phoniest, most shallow opportunist to run for president since ... well, ever.

Here's the GOP election strategy:

1. Do everything humanly possible to prevent the economy from recovering

2. Wait for 2012

3. Run a campaign focused on the fact the economy is lousy.

Romney's governing policy once elected: The rich will get richer. Everyone else gets poorer,

rextiama
rextiama

For 2 years the dems controlled the house, senate and the oval office meaning that for 2 years the republicans had basically no power to stop anything.  Therefore the argument that the lackluster recovery is the republicans fault because they blocked everything to make the Democrats look bad doesn't make sense.

apr2563
apr2563

Reps most filabusters in history

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

rex,

Have you ever heard of the filibuster?  Given the number of right wing Democrats in the Senate, the Republicans had more than enough votes to block legislation.  The only reason the Affordable Health Care Act passed was because of some sweetheart deals with those rightwing Democrats (remember the Cornhusker kickback?)

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

The D's did not have a filibuster-proof Senate without help from indies Sanders and Lieberman ...and only if everyone was onboard.

gysgt213
gysgt213

Mitt Romney likes to say he won't "apologize" for his success in business. But what he never says is "thank you" – to the American people – for the federal bailout of Bain amp; Company that made so much of his outsize wealth possible.

.

According to the candidate's mythology, Romney took leave of his duties at the private equity firm Bain Capital in 1990 and rode in on a white horse to lead a swift restructuring of Bain amp; Company, preventing the collapse of the consulting firm where his career began. When The Boston Globe reported on the rescue at the time of his Senate run against Ted Kennedy, campaign aides spun Romney as the wizard behind a "long-shot miracle," bragging that he had "saved bank depositors all over the country $30 million when he saved Bain amp; Company."

.

In fact, government documents on the bailout obtained by Rolling Stone show that the legend crafted by Romney is basically a lie. The federal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney's initial rescue attempt at Bain amp; Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had "no value as a going concern." Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds.

.Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/po...