Where has Mitt Romney been?
On the recent cover of Parade magazine. All over the national radio, television and print media.
But, that wasn’t the real Romney. That was a cardboard cutout of the guy.
I mean the Romney that showed up as sublimely presidential in Thursday night’s debate. Where has he been?
This guy found his voice.
There was one moment in that debate, coupled with a short C-Span clip in Arizona, that delivered a new, heretofore unseen, Mitt Romney.
Often a single utterance changes history.
Remember, the “macaca moment” that defeated Sen. George Allen in Virginia? Or the “malaise” speech that still haunts former President Jimmy Carter?
Better, Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” demand.
Those utterances not only defined or re-defined the character of the speaker, but also signaled a directional change in history.
Romney had two such moments recently. Together, they portend a quick end to the Republicans’ decision about their nominee and a greater challenge to Barack Obama’s re-election.
The press, however, wants none of this quick end to the primary fights. A well-known “secret” in politics is that all of the invented early brawls mean big money for the local television, radio, magazine, newspaper, hoteliers, restaurateurs, etc.
The early races are shakedown primaries in every sense of the word.
But Romney just won the Republican nomination.
And he won with two simple, game-changing utterances.
His team should remove the clips from the archives and start airing them on a non-stop feedback loop—immediately.
The first such utterance occurred in Arizona. There, a routine endorsement from former Vice President Dan Quayle (just as Gingrich was soaring to the lead in every national polls) permitted Romney a space to declare himself.
Almost as a toss off, he said—with genuine passion (something missing thus far in Romney and even more remote in President Obama)—“I love this country. I love the future I see for it.”
Wow. Someone actually sees a “future” for this country.
Find the clip. Watch it. See this other Romney with a line that grabs the “vision thing.” Obviously, he didn’t need a teleprompter. Didn’t need notes. Just said it. And said it with unmistakable conviction in his voice.
Plain. Simple. Powerful. Wham. He loves America and he sees a future for America!
But, the better clip is the line he used in the debate on Thursday night. It brought down the “anyone but Romney” house:
“Our president thinks America is in decline. It is if he is president. It’s not if I’m president. This is going to be an American century.” Again, with conviction. It actually resonated.
Romney finally demonstrated that he gets it—not because of the exact choice of his words, but because of the forcefulness and the guts he exhibited in delivering them.
Romney wants the job. You gotta want the job, especially when so many Americans are desperate for a job of their own. They can sense Romney’s newfound hunger because it is starting to growl like their own.
And Romney now finally “wants the job” of president of the United States for something more than a photo op in the Oval Office. He sees a future for America. He wants to work for it.
Republicans, however, want a brawl. The media wants a brawl. Newt Gingrich, the once and future leader, is the WWF champion of brawlers. But second thoughts about a brawler in the Oval Office have begun to surface.
War with Iran is Gingrich’s cudgel. It may appeal to “world-enders” and apocalyptical believers, but playing the provocateur is not the president’s job.
Republicans want someone to “take it to Obama” with “fire in the belly” and nuance in the fist, but even they sense Gingrich’s unelectability.
Romney showed just enough fight and more than enough wisdom in these two defining moments to pass both the presidential and the “vision thing” tests.
His campaign should run these clips in the non-stop feedback loop of YouTube as well as polished campaign commercials.
Once Romney makes it clear that as governor of Massachusetts he represented the people of Massachusetts, and as president of the Unites States he will represent the American people, it is all over.
Look for dropouts soon.
To what does one ascribe the changes?
Ann Romney is the most likely reason, but that is a topic for another column.