Likability

08.27.12

Romney: Personality Isn’t Everything

As Tampa is soaked, the Republican candidate launches a preemptive media blitz. Howard Kurtz on how Romney’s finally making use of the mainstream media’s megaphone.

The GOP convention hasn’t gotten underway, but Mitt Romney just conceded the likability contest.

“I don’t think everybody likes me,” Romney told Politico in an interview published Monday. “I don’t believe that, by any means. But I do believe that people of this country are looking for someone who can get the country growing again with more jobs and more take-home pay, and I think they realize this president had four years to do that.”

Translation: The other guy may be more affable and charming, but the economy is still a mess. You don’t have to love me, just give me a shot at the job.

The rain here in Tampa, though not yet at tropical-storm levels, has put a damper on the now delayed convention. But you don’t need a big arena to make news. Romney, who spent much of the campaign avoiding the mainstream media, is finally making use of their megaphone. And he is trying to steer the contest away from the politics of personality.

He used a self-described Popeye line in his Politico sitdown, saying: “I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they’re something they’re not. You get what you see. I am who I am.”

But the former Massachusetts governor did seem to bristle at criticism that he doesn’t connect with people, noting: “I was voted president of my fraternity.”

In another interview, with USA Today, Romney took a whack at President Obama’s “vicious” campaign.

“I do think that the president's campaign of personal vilification and demonization probably draws some people away from me," he said.

So that’s the formula: if I seem like less than a nice guy, it’s the fault of the Obama mud machine.

With a Washington Post–ABC News poll showing Romney with a 47-46 edge, a statistical tie, the man who will accept his party’s nomination this week is not in a bad spot.