“Mitt,” a behind-the-scenes look at the Romney campaigns 2007-2012 and available on Netflix, is surprisingly charming.
The film should be required viewing for politicos, and advisors to candidates, because it explores issues of image control, how much a candidate should stay on guard and how much he should let down his guard to reveal his true self.
Did the nation, or the media, sell Mitt short?
Romney feared that he couldn’t win the Republican nomination if he showed his true self, a moderate Republican, the champion of RomneyCare (a state version of Obamacare) and a devout Morman (who might spark suspicions from evangelicals and fundamentalists). In the film, he calls himself “a flawed candidate” because he (conveniently) changed his mind on issues of concern to conservatives.
Romney does make a case for small businesses, recalling the small business owner he met who complained that he was paying 60 percent of his income in taxes. “People don’t realize how hard it is to build a successful business,” Romney says.
Will this documentary create a case a case of “buyers remorse”? Certainly that happened to Al Gore after the 2000 election, which I documented here. In that campaign, Gore gave in to advisors who told him not to talk too much about the cause of his life, global warming, because he could too easily be caricatured as a “tree hugger” and an environmental extremist. As a result, he came across in that campaign as frequently wooden and not very likeable.
I long ago learned when you see a politician up close, it’s hard to demonize him and deny his humanity.
Maureen Dowd offered a wicked commentary on Mitt’s 2016 temptation. She, of course, would have been the first to brutalize him for his “weird” religious beliefs.