Tim Skubick: Romney's disconnect was apparent years ago
By Tim Skubick FOX 2 Political Analyst
LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -- They lecture you in journalism school not to get too close to the folks you cover. If you become good friends, it is tough to pull the trigger when it's time to criticize them for one thing or another. So "keep your distance" is the mantra drummed into your head.
Yet, it's tough to do.
Take the Romney family. Covering former Gov. George Romney was a joy. He said what he believed, he was passionate about saying it, and he never wavered. He did not own a pair of flip-flops.
Mrs. Lenore Romney. She was the love of George Romney's life and vice versa. You had no choice but to admire and like them both.
So it was with great anticipation that one prepped for an interview with son Mitt Romney during his first and unsuccessful bid for president. He was on Mackinac Island along with the vast field of other GOP contenders during a "cattle call" event hyped by the state Republican Party.
First Rudy Giuliani came in. With a bounce in his step, a smile on his face, and a easiness about him, you were immediately drawn in by his personality. Did you know he broke is thumb as a catcher playing baseball?
Ron Paul was also interviewed. He was truly engaging, a little quirky but delightful and he had some good ideas about how to run the country.
John McCain, on the ropes at the time and running out of money, was not in good spirits. Oh no. His mean streak was on full display as he took one verbal shot after another at the inquisitive reporter trying to pin him down. Yet you kinda liked the guy for having the guts to speak his mind.
And then into the room, Mitt Romney confidently strides. Right out of central casting; here is a guy who looks like a president. But he looks distracted, his mind is somewhere else as he grinds away on the tread mill of running for president.
This was just one more obligatory interview and it showed. No pop, no passion. He was everything Giuliani was not. Sort of Al Gore without the sweater.
Now usually at the end of a TV interview, when the cameras stop rolling, the "other side" of the candidate comes out. Here's the chance to connect on a personal basis. This would be the fun part.
But alas there was no connection even when the subject of his dad came up. "Oh really, you covered my dad," he rejected the overture to reveal his other side. And with that he was out the door.
"What was that?" one of the producers wondered out loud as he pondered the aloof attitude also on full display.
How ironic. There in living color you got a peek at what would continue to dog Mr. Romney six years later even as he rose from the ashes to capture the GOP nomination the second time around.
Who is the real Romney? And why isn't he more like his Dad?
Even former George Romney inner circle-types, who know Mitt, are lamenting their conclusion that this was a case of not like father, like son.
In fact, if the son had been more like his dad, the theory goes, he might be headed for the White House. But to win the GOP nomination, in this current ultra-conservative/Tea Party political climate, a more moderate Mitt Romney would have lost.
So he moved to the right, but after nailing the nomination he tried to crawl back to the sensible center but many voters saw through the political opportunist at work and also a guy who was not "one of us" and frankly not very likable as the post election exit chats revealed. It was Mackinac Island all over again.
Wonder what dad and mom would have thought about that? Not to mention the voters who didn't much like it either.