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Monday, January 30, 2012

Who in God’s Name Is Mitt Romney?

His greatest passion is something he’s determined to keep secret.


By Frank Rich

Back in the thick of the 2008 Republican presidential race, I asked a captain of American finance what he had made of Mitt Romney when they were young colleagues at Bain & Company. “Mitt was a nice guy, a smart businessman, and an excellent team player,” he ­responded without missing a beat. Then came the CEO’s one footnote, delivered with bemusement, not pique: “Still, whenever the rest of us would go out at the end of the day, we’d always find ourselves having the same conversation: None of us had any idea who this guy was.”

Here we are in 2012, and nothing has changed. What Romney’s former colleague observed of the young Mitt at close range decades ago could stand as the judgment of most Americans watching him at a cable-news remove now. That’s why his campaign has so often been on the ropes. That’s why, in a highly polarized nation, the belief that Romney is a phony may be among the very last convictions still bringing left, right, and center together. As a focus-group participant evocatively told pollster Peter Hart in November, Romney reminded him of the “dad who’s never home.” Nonetheless, this phantom has spent most of the campaign as the “presumed” front-runner for his party’s nomination. Amazingly, this conventional wisdom held up throughout 2011, even though 75 percent of Romney’s own party was searching so frantically for an alternative that Donald Trump enjoyed a nanosecond bump in the polls

Read the rest of this entry at New York Magazine >>


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