On Saturday, the NY Times ran a piece essentially arguing that Mitt Romney’s polished nature has made it difficult for him to connect with voters:
It should be interesting to watch whether Romney’s style helps or hurts him as the race progresses. In one sense he runs the risk of coming off as inauthentic (especially given his flip flop problem). On the other hand, over the long haul of a campaign, there is an advantage to essentially being like a machine who does whatever it’s programmed to do, because you can limit controversy. Personality candidates are going have emotional high moments (McCain’s answer to the woman who lost her brother in Iraq, Rudy’s response to Ron Paul), but being unscripted can also cause problems (Rudy’s early abortion asnwers, McCain’s blasting the Club for Growth, or his “agents of intolerence” comment from 2000). The Mittster may be too plastic for some people, and he may not have the high highs of his rivals, but he also may avoid a major gaffe that can destroy a campaign (as it did to his father).
Thinking of this contrast reminded me of an anecdote that I came across from the 2002 Massachusetts governor’s race, back when Giuliani, ironically, was campaigning for Romney. The Boston Globe‘s Brian McGrory wrote:
A rumpled local with a 10 o’clock shadow called out to the pair, “Let me buy you guys a cannoli.” This is a softball, a no-brainer; my cynical reporter’s mind, flashing to images on the news of Mitt biting into a load of sweetened ricotta cheese, assumed this man was a plant.
And here’s what Mitt said: “No thanks, got to run.” He said it with that nervous smile on his face, the same one he wears in the debates. Giuliani, while Romney waited by the door, came over, wrapped his arm around the man, and said, “Let me buy you the cannoli.” Everyone in the joint was tickled pink.
So the question is, has Romney learned to take the cannoli? Will he have to to get the nomination?