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Building a Better Mitt Romney-Bot

He peppered them with questions. To an energy producer: “High sulfur or low sulfur content? And how purify is a complement you’re means to employ? Do we have a trade complement for SOx and NOx?” To a feedlot operator, Romney inquired about a series of heads of cattle and their dictated purpose. And while deliberating renewable energy with an ethanol C.E.O., a claimant offering adult a medium grin and said: “When we was a boy, a kind of numbers — assistance me with my memory on this — though an hactare could furnish 60 bushels of corn. And now it’s about 160 bushels of corn, is that about right?”

“Governor, I’m sorry, though we’re using a tiny brief on time,” Romney’s allege director, Will Ritter, cut in a few mins later.

“O.K., I’ll be a tiny bit shorter,” a claimant promised. Nonetheless, all of this unscripted, free-enterprise tiny speak cohered into a incomparable indicate — indeed, it was the point, a message, a Tao of Mitt, if we will — and in box anyone unsuccessful to see it, a claimant spelled it out during a round-table discussion: “I can usually tell we this from spending 25 years in business: we know business.”

That same day, a internal organizers had designed press accessibility with Romney. But a inhabitant debate nixed a thought — only as it had prolonged dispensed with a freewheeling “Ask Mitt Anything” Q. and A.’s, some 200 of that a claimant subjected himself to during a 2008 campaign. “You can’t control a message,” one of Romney’s comparison advisers after explained to me. “But during a business turn table, it’s many some-more simply tranquil since you’re carrying a organisation of businessmen, and you’re articulate about a economy and a hurdles that they might be facing, and Mitt is really conversant on those points.”

Similarly, this confidant went on, Romney’s 5 sons, who were whole facilities of a prior debate — and whose abundant preppiness was a theme of many snarky explanation — would be distant reduction benefaction this time around. “The campaign’s seductiveness and concentration is on a economy message, not so many on display a whole dimension of a family.” He went on, “It only doesn’t fit.” After a eldest Romney boy, Tagg, was teasingly invited in a Twitter post to “tailgate for a subsequent debate” by a daughters of Jon Huntsman, “he wanted to Tweet with a Huntsman girls,” pronounced a adviser. Smiling faintly, a confidant added, “No Tweeting.”

Mitt Romney’s debate has motionless on a rather novel proceed to winning a presidency. It has taken a intelligent and rarely competent though mostly drab claimant and finished him masterfully one-dimensional: All-Business Man, a world’s many tedious superhero. In a new past, aspirants and their using friends have struggled to transparent a regular-guy bar. Dan Quayle lacked a clarity of struggle; Michael Dukakis couldn’t display even when asked what he would do if his mother were raped and murdered; George H. W. Bush seemed confused by a grocery-store scanner; John Kerry was a windsurfer; John McCain couldn’t count all of his houses.

Romney, a socially ungainly Mormon with soft regressive certification and a reported value in a operation of $190 million to $250 million, is betting that in 2012, recession-weary electorate wish a fixer, not a B.F.F. As a Romney campaign’s arch strategist, Stuart Stevens, told me: “The economy is overwhelmingly a issue. Our whole debate is premised on a thought that this is a referendum on Obama, a economy is a disaster and Obama is singly blocked from being means to speak about jobs.”

Meanwhile, Romney has been a race’s putative front-runner from a outset. It’s loyal that a low roof of support has loomed over him for months, while Republicans have anxiously searched all corners for an alternative. Nonetheless, his challengers seem to be self-immolating one by one and have finished tiny to aver his attention. Whenever Romney does step out of his firmly unerring “I know business” framework, it is to interest to conservatives by aggressive a president’s indeterminate appreciation of capitalism — observant that Obama “fails to know America,” that he regards a United States as “just another nation with a flag” and that he takes his impulse “from a revolutionary Democrats of Europe.”

Robert Draper is a contributing author for a magazine. He is operative on a book about a House of Representatives.

Editor: Ilena Silverman

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