Friday, February 24, 2012

Mitt Romney (finally) hits the mark....

Full disclosure: I will not likely vote for Mitt Romney should he be the Republican nomination. I've not been shy about criticizing the former Massachusetts Governor, so when I saw an opportunity to give some praise, I had to step up.

This evening, after his sparsely attended event at the Ford Field in Detroit, he participated in a town hall in Kalamazoo, MI. Politico reports a few of his comments...

Via POLITICO's Reid Epstein, Mitt Romney had some notable riffs as he talked at a town hall in Kalamazoo tonight:
"We were in Detroit this morning, at the Detroit Economic Club, then through Mt. Clemens, then drove here across the interstate. Drove past Brighton. My parents' grave sites are there. My dad-- trust my dad. My dad (was) a very frugal man. He checked all over for where the best deal was on a grave site. And he found a place in Brighton -- because we didn't live in Brighton. Its like, 'How did you pick Brighton, Dad?' 'Well, best price I could find in the whole state.' So if you're looking for the best deal on a grave site, check Brighton, they got a good spot, you'll be near the former governor and first lady."
         And, on the idea that there's nothing to be done about gas prices:
"I think the American people know that to a certain degree gas prices are driven by what’s happening around the world – supply and demand. The demand in China, Brazil and India and right here is going to drive to a certain degree gas prices. But the American people want to see the President’s trying to do something about it. And he’s not just sending money outside the country to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, in many cases to people who don’t like us very much. So they’re going to be happy with a President, as I will, on their first day, on the lands that’re already approved for drilling. I’m going to give licenses to people who are approved to drill and finally get our oil and our gas out of the ground!"
And, after a question about NASA and the space program:
"And I know China is headed to the moon. They’re planning on going to the moon, and some people say, oh, we’ve got to get to the moon, we’ve got to get there in a hurry to prove we can get there before China. It’s like, guys, we were there a long time ago, all right? And when you get there would you bring back some of the stuff we left?"
I don't  have a problem with any of these responses. To me, they sound reasonable and fresh. Too often, Romney says something that dis-connects him from his potential voting block. Comments like the ten thousand dollar bet during an early debate:

Or the "I'm running for office, I can't have illegals" comment during another debate about an alleged illegal worker under his employ:

...or his awkward remark "I'm not concerned about the very poor..." (Which WAS taken out of context quite a bit. Nonetheless, its out there...)

 ...and today's earlier remark about his wife driving two Caddy's hurts his effort to connect with the common folks.

Tonight's remarks, while quite a small sample size granted, in Kalamazoo show us that he can find the proper frequency to use when making these kind of comments. These aren't exactly extemporaneous comments, but at times, every politician wanders off script. Sometimes they get an inspiration or an idea and just trust themselves and let it roll. It helps them sound less stuffy, less stiff and less scripted. Teleprompters are handy things but the more gifted politicians can riff for a few bars without any music in front of them. (Its the stuff of legend but President Clinton began one of his State of the Union addresses and realized immediately after beginning that the wrong speech had been loaded. In front of a packed joint session of Congress including the Supreme Court Justices and the Joint Chiefs. He improvised for several minutes until the panicked staffers could get the proper text loaded. No one ever knew. Its hard to say how well some other recent POTUS's might've handled the same problem...)

Romney is attractive to a lot of people. He's easy on the eyes, speaks reasonably well and his preparation and opposition research is top notch. I suspect the Romney campaign will refine their public presentations over the next few months. They'd better. Obama is a skilled public speaker and knows what it takes to become the victor come November. I'd like to see the best of both men as we head to election day. Despite that I wouldn't likely vote for him, the higher the quality of the debate, the better for voters trying to make up their minds. I hope Romney polishes up his game.


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