The fact is, I've become fascinated with Romney. This wouldn't be the first time I'd met him, or the second. Okay, it would be merely the third. But I figured after three sit-downs I'm justified in forming some opinions of the man. And so I have.
Let me say right off the bat that I am not being paid under the table by the Romney campaign. I have no horse in this race. I'm a registered Independent. Blah, blah, blah. Nonetheless, my message to his Republican rivals (and to any future Democratic ones, too) is: Watch out for this guy.
After listing some of his potential pitfalls and discarding all but the "flip-flopping" (which, once again, are badly misrepresented . . . how many times are we going to have to remind folks that he has had NO POSITION SHIFTS ON GAY MARRIAGE AND GUN RIGHTS??? . . . sigh) the journalist thinks Romney'g got the right stuff:
Here's why I think Romney can survive the scrutiny. He's smart. He's articulate (a reading of my interview transcipt confirms that he talks in complete sentences. Present occupants of the White House, take note). But the most important thing he has going for him is that he's so likeable. Bear with me, because I know how superficial that sounds. It's actually a hugely important trait.
Then comes the "Reaganesque" factor:
I don't buy that Fred Thompson is the Reaganesque candidate in the wings. I think the closest the Republicans will find this year is Mitt Romney -- a man with Reagan-style appeal, combined with gray matter.
Don't just take my word, though. Take Chris Matthews' word, if you dare. "I can't help it, I just like the guy," he recently said on his show about Romney. Remember, Matthews is nothing if not proudly cynical about politicians. More revealing, a friend of mine from Massachusetts said her parents, who are ardent liberal Democrats, are disappointed in Romney's campaign stands. Why? "They really liked him as governor." Now, I've met her parents. I've discussed politics with them. If they liked Romney, a Republican, then he is likeable.
Prior to our interview last week, he joked with me as I fumbled around with audio equipment. "Ok, time's up! Gotta go!" he laughed, when I finally got all the equipment working. For someone on the grueling campaign trail, he sure was chipper and having fun. And why not? It must be nice to be liked.
I've personally had many occasions to talk with Romney and see him interact with folks "in the flesh" (plus, I'm going to get to see him at a few events this weekend!!!). I must agree that he has the "likability" factor going for him. This bodes well for the continued gowth of his campaign team, grassroots supporters, and polls.