Tuesday, December 12, 2023

the last book I ever read (Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins, excerpt two)

from Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins:

One of Murphy’s first ideas was to have a camera crew follow Romney around as he performed various blue-collar jobs—selling hot dogs at Fenway, or laying asphalt on a paving crew. Romney did not exactly pull off the regular-Joe schtick. (When he spent a day driving a tractor, he complained about his “severe allergy to hay” and asked for a handkerchief.) But even as the stunts drew scorn in the press—the Boston Herald called his costume changes “Village People–esque”—voters seemed to get a kick out of watching him fumble around. “It’s not like people believed for a minute that I wasn’t some rich patrician,” Romney said later. It was just that he seemed like a good sport: “It’s like, he cares enough about the job and wants it bad enough that he’s willing to do this.”

Other efforts to humanize Romney were less successful. Six weeks before the election, his campaign released a TV ad titled “Ann” that featured the Romneys lovingly recounting their youthful courtship and gushing over their children while a cloying soundtrack twinkled in the background. Voters hated the ad. There was something phony and plastic in the way Romney doted on his wife—“Ann is just good to the core,” he effused—and he began to sink in the polls. The irony, of course, was that Romney really did talk about Ann this way, all the time. But, as he would later reflect, this was one of his failures as a candidate. “I was accused of being inauthentic. But in reality, that’s just who I am,” he told me. “I’m the authentic person who seems inauthentic.”

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