I can think of a couple reasons why Mitt Romney chose to take questions from local TV reporters and KOA radio hosts yesterday, while blowing off "print" journalists in Denver.
The most obvious explanation is that Romney thinks local TV news and drive-time radio are consumed by the swing voters he needs to win, while The Denver Post and print outlets, are ignored by swing voters. So why waste time talking to them?
His logic may go like this: You can't be completely clueless if you read The Denver Post, and no matter where you sit on the political spectrum, you would agree that swing voters have got to be deeply clueless if they can't make their minds up between today's Republican and Democratic parties.
So it makes sense that Romney's target audience of undecided voters don't read print media, and so he would ignore print reporters as a result.
An alternative explanation for Romney's local TV tour Wednesday is that he was scared pesky print reporters would ask him tough questions while mayhem-and-fluff loving local TV news journalists would have one eye on the incoming rainstorm and therefore be unable and/or uninterested in asking him substantive questions.
If this was Team Romney's thinking, they got it wrong. Denver's local TV news didn't suck up and ask softballs. They asked real questions about real issues in Colorado, including the most obvious question, given the drama in the State Legislature, about his view on civil unions.
CBS4 reporter Shaun Boyd introduced her piece by saying, "As you can see, Romney seemed a bit flustered by the questions viewers posted on our Facebook page, trying to steer the conversation back to topics he was comfortable with."
I would say Romney was less flustered and more irritated with Boyd's news judgment after she posed questions about civil unions (answer: no), college-tuition reductions for undocumented high school graduates (no), and medical marijuana (no).
Sounding like Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call who recently said birth-control issues were "small issues," Romney told Boyd:
Romney: "Aren't there issues of significance that you'd like to talk about?
Boyd: This is a significant issue in Colorado.
Romney: The economy. The economy. The economy. Jobs. The need to put people back to work. The challenges of Iran. We have enormous issues that we face, but you want to talk about, go ahead."
Boyd picked up where she had left off, telling Romney matter-of-factly, "Marijuana."
And Romney said, "I oppose the legalization of marijuana...."
Boyd, along with her counterparts at Fox 31, 9News, and 7News, all asked Romney serious questions, perhaps the kind he wasn't expecting from local TV reporters.
I'm hoping the tough questioning continues through the election season because it's informative and it makes interesting television, as opposed to happy-talk questions like, "Hey, how's your dog."
But I guess in Romney's case, that would be considered a hardball query as well.
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