All great political families have myths, stories they tell themselves about how history happened. The great story about Mr. Romney’s father, George, is that one word—”brainwashed”—did in his presidential candidacy in 1968. People have hypothesized that Mitt is careful with words and statements, that he edits his thoughts too severely, because of the power of that myth.
“I don’t think my father’s comment figures into my thinking at all,” he says. It’s his own mistakes “that make me want to kick myself in the seat of my pants,” that “cause me to try and be a little more careful in what I say. . . . I’ve had a couple of those during the campaign, which have haunted me a little bit, but I’m sure before this is over will haunt me a lot.”
Asked for an example, he mentions “I like to be able to fire people.” He meant, he says, those, such as health-insurance companies, that provide inadequate services. “I have to think not only about what I say in a full sentence but what I say in a phrase.” In the current media environment, “you will be taken out of context, you’ll be clipped, and you’ll be battered with things you said.” He says it is interesting that “the media always says, ‘Gosh, we just want you to be spontaneous,’ but at the same time if you say anything in the wrong order, you’re gonna be sorry!”