Politico has an interesting and provocative interview with Mitt Romney this morning — although perhaps not provocative enough for some of the passionate base. After dumping the “nice guy but failed President” argument in the overwhelming volume of nasty attacks from Barack Obama and his campaign, including insinuations of being a felon, a murderer, and a modern-day slaver, Romney tells Politico that the theme will return at the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa:
Mitt Romney conceded President Barack Obama has succeeded in making him a less likable person, but he offered a defiant retort to those hoping he will open up this week: “I am who I am.” …
“I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they’re something they’re not,” Romney said. “You get what you see. I am who I am.”
To press the point, he said the GOP would even try to turn Obama’s still-high personal favorability rankings back on him at its convention this week, by making the simple case to voters: nice guy, failed president.
“I don’t think everybody likes me,” Romney said. “I don’t believe that, by any means. But I do believe that people of this country are looking for someone who can get the country growing again with more jobs and more take-home pay, and I think they realize this president had four years to do that. … He got every piece of legislation he wanted passed, and it didn’t work. I think they want someone who has a different record, and I do.”
I suspect that this will attract a lot of criticism, but it’s a smart strategy. Here’s why. The people who paid attention over the summer already know about Barack Obama’s nastiness and Romney’s counter-attacks. The convention delegates already know about it, too. However, the people Romney most needs to reach now are those who have taken the summer off from politics, who haven’t heard the back-and-forth, and who won’t understand the context of nasty attacks from the Republican dais.
Because of that, the first impression these voters will get will be from the tone of the convention. Romney’s almost certainly betting that the Democratic convention will keep using the Romney-is-a-scary-murder/felon/slaver, since Democrats can’t talk about Obama’s record on jobs and the economy. Taking the more gracious tone first forces Democrats to either lighten up or suffer by contrast, and possibly have voters tuning out well before Obama appears at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to accept the nomination.
Romney also tells Politico that he plans to get to business immediately — and almost literally — as President:
Romney pledged to bring corporate order to the West Wing. He promised to issue a checklist for his first 100 days, similar to the printed scorecard he used in Massachusetts; treat his Cabinet like a board of directors; and try to restart the economy using the hands-on management style that made him hundreds of millions of dollars. …
He would take a hands-on, CEO approach to the job. “I likewise do not like having a solution presented to me for approval. Instead, I’d much rather dig into the issue myself and hear alternative viewpoints on the issue and be able to reach a decision.” This sounds very similar to Obama’s decision-making preference — and one that White House veterans say is virtually impossible to implement because of the dizzying number of decisions a president makes each day. …
He would take a hands-on, CEO approach to the job. “I likewise do not like having a solution presented to me for approval. Instead, I’d much rather dig into the issue myself and hear alternative viewpoints on the issue and be able to reach a decision.” This sounds very similar to Obama’s decision-making preference — and one that White House veterans say is virtually impossible to implement because of the dizzying number of decisions a president makes each day.
That would certainly be a big change from the Obama administration, whose lack of private-sector experienced finally prompted Obama to form a jobs council comprised of leading CEOs in the business world … and which he has ignored for more than six months.
Be sure to read it all.
Update: Some readers are objecting to the headline being in quotes, as Romney is not explicitly quoted as saying this phrase in the article. However, I am quoting the article, and Romney has said this on many occasions — although not lately.