"It's almost like [Romney]’s Robert Redford in 'The Candidate'"

When voters exposed themselves emotionally, Romney offered little empathy. When they sought his support for their causes, Romney didn’t show them that he cared. Romney was scripted when he could have been spontaneous. He was boardroom cool when he could have been living room warm.

It’s not for lack of trying. Romney lets his hair breathe, goes tie-less and travels with a slimmed-down entourage. He deploys his wife, Ann, to share stories about Mitt the husband and Mitt the father. He campaigns less as someone looking to fulfill his personal ambition than as a turnaround specialist whose skills are needed for the nation. “I am not in this race for me,” he says.

“He’s doing a better job of trying to be more engaging, if you will,” said Brent Siegrist, a former Iowa House speaker who endorsed Romney in 2008 and plans to do so again. But, he said, Romney still has weaknesses. “He’s almost too perfect — too good-looking, too successful — that’s just what it feels like. It’s almost like he’s Robert Redford in ‘The Candidate.’ ”