In the countless hours I spent in Romney’s presence during his first White House run (and mostly from a greater distance during his second bid), I saw a man who was preternaturally upbeat, well-meaning, and kind to just about everyone he encountered, friends and strangers alike.

But I also saw a candidate who seemed by nature almost uniquely ill-equipped to appeal to the young and minority voters who ended up playing a key role in his electoral demise.

Members of the press who traveled with Romney in 2007 and early 2008 began slowly to pick up on what would become an established media narrative by the time Romney was the 2012 front-runner: The former Massachusetts governor didn’t just have a difficult time relating to young and minority voters, he often came across as a walking-talking time warp from the 1950s.

On the stump, Romney frequently began declarative sentences with the word “why,” and talked about how long he’d been “going steady” with his high school “sweetheart.” And that persona seemed well enough suited to Republican primary electorates, which were disproportionately white and older.