Yesterday’s Fox News Sunday closed on a puzzling note. Chris Wallace concluded an interview with Governor Rick Perry by noting that FNS has now interviewed every Republican presidential candidate in the field, except for one — and that one holdout is rather surprising:
With Governor Perry’s appearance, we have interviewed all the major Republican candidates in our 2012 101 series — except Mitt Romney. He has not appeared on this program or any Sunday talk show since March of 2010. We invited Gov. Romney again this week, but his campaign says he’s still not ready to sit down for an interview.
The Los Angeles Times covered the challenge almost as soon as Wallace delivered it:
The absence was pointedly noted by “Fox News Sunday’s” Chris Wallace, who concluded his one-on-one interview with Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a not particularly subtle shot at the former Massachusetts governor.
“With Gov. Perry’s appearance, we have now interviewed all the major Republican candidates in our 2012 one-on-one series except Mitt Romney. He has not appeared on any Sunday talk show since March of 2010,” Wallace said.
Doesn’t that seem odd? Of all the GOP hopefuls in this field, Romney should be the most prepared for the Sunday talk circuit. He’s the only candidate who has run in a presidential election before, save Ron Paul, who certainly isn’t shy about accepting interview requests. Romney also has had a string of successfully managed debate appearances, with the exception of the last debate in which he obviously lost his cool.
It’s odd enough to skip all of the Sunday talk shows, but avoiding Fox is an even stranger decision. Romney needs to make a case to the conservative base, which would be more likely to watch Fox on Sunday than any of the other shows. Romney should have been working Wallace for months by now, making a case for his brand of conservatism in order to build up at least some good will among voters who might not want him as a first choice but who may well have to find a way to accept him in the end. Why not start that process now, rather than wait for March or April, especially when some outreach might convince some to vote for him first?
Now that Wallace has openly challenged him, Romney’s not going to have much choice but to make a Sunday appearance in the near future. It might not be on Fox — that would be too obviously a concession to Wallace at this point — but I’d expect to see Romney on a Sunday morning in November.