Quin, I’m a day late here, but my compliments on your thorough dissection of Romney’s negatives as McCain’s vp.
I have seen and heard Romney up close here in Massachusetts for a number of years, so let me add some important things.
Romney is at his best when he has to master a technical subject, particularly when he has to do it fast, then present its merits to the public. He particularly impressed when he mastered the details of pouring cement and contracting after the Big Dig fatality, where a woman was killed by a falling tunnel panel.
But there are things about him that just set the public’s teeth on edge. For some percentage of the voting public, Mormonism will remain just plain weird. As a candidate, you can’t afford to blow off any percentage segment of the electorate.
Romney, despite his apparent verbal felicity, has no sense of the rhythm of speech. He doesn’t know when he’s done saying something. He doesn’t know how to stop talking. It makes you want to get rid of him, like shaking a piece of sticky paper off your shoe.
Either he, or his usual counselors, have no ear for advertising. His primary radio commercials had no lilt, no charm, no verve. What’s more, they usually began with a solemn announcer intoning that “John McCain has spent 25 years in Washington.” And giving the listener the impression he was about to hear a McCain commercial.
In a 30-second spot, you can’t waste the first 7-10 seconds giving the wrong impression. He did it over and over again.
He may be the smartest and most principled man in politics (I don’t know), but he is also a stunningly infelicitous candidate.