Who is Mitt Romney?
His children and wife know him and certainly love him. But Americans do not. His "likeability" polling is half that of President Obama.
I think it is because his narrative is vacant, absent, non-existent. He is an abyss. Mormon, one-term Massachusetts governor, very wealthy, son of a former presidential candidate and GM CEO... OK, we've got that much.
But, inside his head, what? What does he feel or think? And why?
All of that is blank. Perhaps that is all there is.
Romney's aide-de-camp, Eric Fehrnstrom -- a Massachusetts Rasputin -- is the guardian of Romney's persona. The problem for Fehrnstrom and the entire campaign staff (well let's assume "kiss-my-ass" Rick Gorka won't be returning?) is that there is very little narrative to market. Very wealthy Mormon, family man, outsourcing expert? Savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics? Architect of Obamacare qua Massachusetts?
Again, who is Willard Romney? What makes his heart tick? Does he have passions, cares, concerns? Could he, would he, have the guts to order attacks to defend America, or would he be more comfortable in one of his four huge mansions or his wife's two Cadillacs?
This is not a man who has faced any adversity, confronted any challenges, or lived in any environments other than comfort. He has experienced only stability, wealth, and elitism. Romney cannot present to anyone outside the top 1% one iota of sympathy, identity or compassion.
A political candidate's "narrative" is vital not just for reporting and storytelling, but because of what it tells voters about who is inside the shell. How was this candidate generated, and what ideas motivate him/her? That Barack Obama is twice as "liked" in recent polls than Mitt Romney says a great deal; presidential elections are not merely popularity contests of course and have much to do about public confidence in economic and security policies. Still, Romney ain't the guy we "like." We don't like him because there is nothing there to like. No story with which to engage. He is, after all, the other... wealthy, detached, distant, and highly secretive.
So, who is Romney? When he decides, perhaps he will let us know. Until then, he is no one. And I have not even mentioned his tax returns. Oh yes, I just did.
Daniel N. Nelson is CEO of Global Concepts & Communications. Previously he served in the U.S. Government and as a staff member on Capitol Hill.
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