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Mitt The Non-Contiguous Candidate

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MITT ROMNEY
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WASHINGTON -- Here's what the Mitt Romney campaign has been reduced to as it crawls toward the Republican presidential nomination: bragging about the candidate's sweeping victories this past week in American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Hawaii.

Throw in his earlier triumph in Alaska, and Romney is now the undisputed master of America's non-contiguous states, territories and other possessions.

The ironic but apt symbolism of Mitt -- who often seems at odds with his own party -- as the King of Non-Contiguousness is evidently lost on his team in Boston, but then they have to deal with the material they have at hand.

Romney's has been by far the most interesting campaign this year -- for its failures more than its successes. He's going to take the nomination, and maybe the presidency, but he will do it despite making mistake after mistake.

Here are a few:

No Positive Brand. Romney actually has one. It's just that he and his people haven't found a way to sell it effectively. He's the guy with the business acumen and real-world private-sector chops to save the economy and turn around a bloated, inefficient government. Businessmen always have a tough road in politics, but if there ever was a time for one, this is it. Yet the campaign hasn't been able to sell this message and seems to lack creative ideas for doing so. If the business of America is business, why can't they make that point?

No Intimacy. In an Oprah-ized, Twitter-fed America, you have to let the world into your life and put your life out there for the world. There's a reason why President Barack Obama uses the word "I" more than any other chief executive in history. Critics see it as egotistic or even as narcissistic. But the guy has 18 million Facebook friends, and he and his people know that all 18 million want to feel they're part of the Obama family. Romney and his crew seem to be paralyzed by doubts about the salability of their own guy in this wired world -- which leaves the rest of the universe free to paint him as a privileged, out-of-touch dork.

No Grassroots. The Romney campaign was built from the top down, with big-dollar donors, big-name endorsements and a strategy aimed at a quick knockout. The whole theory was and remains that GOP voters so loathe Obama that no grassroots movement for Romney was necessary, even assuming that creating one were possible. Now, many big-dollar donors are tapped out, and the campaign is scrambling for smaller donations.

Not Enough Ann. His wife's medical story is inspiring, her proximity to her husband humanizes him, and yet she remains an under-utilized asset. Theirs is an old-fashioned love story, hard even for cynics to dismiss.

No Fun, No Humor. Jay Leno doesn't write his own material and not everyone likes him, but he is funny. Why can't the Romney campaign find a sense of humor -- or rent one? If you look like you aren't having fun, you look like a loser. The message is that you don't really like what you're doing. I know for a fact that the Romney people can laugh, at least some of them. They have a finely honed sense of the absurd. How about Mitt?

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