By Ken Feltman
Often, the best insight into a political figure’s weaknesses comes from his close supporters. The anxiety expressed by supporters of Mitt Romney reveals a weakness that Romney’s performance reinforces: Romney is slow to respond to questions, especially when dealing with those double-edged, leading questions that political reporters love to ask.
Months ago, a Romney staff member and I watched a video of one of the Republican debates. At one point, Romney was asked for his reaction to a statement by another candidate. Romney stood, looking just a bit puzzled. His answer was satisfactory but Romney missed an opportunity to underscore one of his own strengths. The staffer commented: “It’s not quite that deer-in-the-headlights look but it’s not showcasing his leadership skills, either.”
Just after the GOP convention, the staffer admitted that Romney had not mastered what he called ‘the authoritative answer.” He went on to say that Romney would be a “great leader from behind his desk in the Oval Office” but would have trouble at press conferences. Another person who is close to Romney said recently that when he speaks, “Romney always leaves you wanting more.”
Contrast that with the concerns of two dedicated financial supporters of President Obama (one met Obama at Harvard). “Clinton learned from his errors and went on to have a big reelection victory. Obama does not adapt to criticism,” one commented. The friend from student days said that “Obama has decided what he wants and maneuvers people so he can get what he thinks is best. He doesn’t really like or respect many people. He knows in his mind that he is right. He can’t understand why everybody doesn’t see things his way.”
At that point, the other said, “Maybe it would be better for his legacy if he lost. He’s stubborn and I can see a lot of recriminations and bad blood if and when things crash and burn.” The other man agreed: “He has this Messiah complex. Once I told him he was putting himself at risk over some little thing and he said, ‘they killed Jesus.’”
Published at Politico.com, September 15, 2012