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April 17, 2014

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republican national Convention:

Romney wraps up event with bid to boost his likability, appeal to independents

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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney addresses delegates before speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

GOP Convention Closing

Balloons fall from the ceiling after Mitt Romney accepts the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Thursday night on Aug. 30, 2012. Launch slideshow »
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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan arrive for a sound check before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney faced a high bar as he officially accepted his party’s nomination Thursday.

In a half hour speech, he had to appeal to the varying factions that competed in the Republican primary fight, hopefully finding a string with which to unify them. He was tasked with reaching not only his party’s base, but independent voters and those who may be siding with his opponent but aren’t real happy about it.

Oh, yeah, and then there was the likability thing. How could he find a way to personally identify with voters, or give them a way to personally identify with him?

Whether he hurdled that bar will be decided by voters, but his 35-minute speech at least made inroads on each of those points.

Romney gave a shout out to the liberty-minded supporters of his former adversary Ron Paul by paying homage to the Constitution.

He paid his respect to women voters by acknowledging the strengths of his wife, his mother and the women he surrounded himself with both in government and business.

He sought to identify with the hardships of those who have lost their homes or jobs and have had to cope with increasing financial burdens — giving those individuals credit for plowing through the difficult times.

He spoke of his parents, his children and what drove him to succeed as a young man.

And he put forward his vision for the America he hopes to lead as president.

“That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother’s confidence that their children’s future is brighter even than the past,” he said. “That America is the best within each of us.”

The effort by the Romney campaign to improve his “likability factor” began the first night of the convention.

His wife, Ann Romney, first made the case for him on the opening night.

“Listen now, this is important,” Ann Romney said. “Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point. And we’re no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities.

“They don’t do it so that others will think more of them.”

Throughout the week, other speakers sprinkled their talks with anecdotes about Romney’s good deeds and personality.

That effort culminated Thursday night with a parade of friends, former parishioners and co-workers to tell stories of his compassion for their dying children, how he would help with the laundry and his decisive leadership at Bain Capital.

And in his speech, Romney sought to make that connection himself through stories of his family, soaring descriptions of his belief not just in the American dream but in individuals to achieve it and bits from his own life story.

“Those weren’t the easiest of days,” he said of when his family was young. “Too many long hours and weekends working, five young sons who seemed to have this need to re-enact a different world war every night.

“But if you ask Ann and I what we’d give, to break up just one more fight between the boys, or wake up in the morning and discover a pile of kids asleep in our room. Well, every mom and dad knows the answer to that.”

Romney’s campaign has relied heavily on others to give voters a glimpse of his personality.

“He’s a genuine guy,” said Robert Uithoven, a Republican consultant from Reno, who is not affiliated with the Romney campaign. “I’ve had an opportunity to be around Mitt Romney beyond just the campaign speeches and rallies. I was at a reception a few years ago and he was serving ice cream to the people who interned for him on his prior campaign. He couldn’t be more pleasant.

“A lot of people don’t get that kind of opportunity to see a presidential candidate that way.”

Still, part of a candidate’s job is to find a way to broadcast that likability factor that others see one-on-one to the electorate at large — a skill that has largely eluded Romney so far.

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Ann Romney, left, wife of U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, chats with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's wife, Janna, during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012.

Not all candidates have former President Bill Clinton’s gift of connecting with individuals. But in recent history, candidates elected president have successfully incorporated their personal story into their campaigns, and found a way to identify with voters.

“It’s not the end all be all, but it is really important,” said Eric Herzik, a political scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno. “And it is a big problem for Mitt Romney.”

Romney not only comes from a wealthy upbringing that stands in stark contrast with the economic suffering of many Americans right now, he also has a somewhat wooden demeanor on the stump, Herzik said.

But while the campaign has worked to personalize Romney, it is making a critical bet that voters will care more about competence than likability this year.

And, not to take anything for granted, the campaign will spend significant resources trying to persuade voters to care more about competence than likability — taking direct aim at one of President Barack Obama’s remaining strengths.

“In times when the economy is strong and confidence is high, likability is more important than when the economy is in trouble and confidence is down,” said Ryan Erwin, a Las Vegas political consultant who advises Romney’s Nevada campaign. “People have to trust their leader is beyond reproach and capable and can do the job right now. We have a president in office right now that doesn’t pass the threshold of success.”

A central theme of Romney’s campaign is to paint Obama as a man with soaring rhetoric — likable rhetoric even — but who is short on performance.

Romney took direct aim on that point with one key line in his speech, lancing Obama’s big ideas with an appeal to keep his focus on the individuals.

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet,” Romney said. “My promise is to help you and your family.”

Herzik countered that it’s a difficult balance for the candidate to find between competence and likability.

“People want competent leadership, but they want the common man to run the country. Oh, and you better be better than me, but don’t flaunt that you’re better than me,” he said. “So you’ve got these contradictory impulses from the voter. But if you simply view the person as competent, but don’t like them, it makes it hard to vote for that person.”

Nevada's Republican National Convention

Romney’s supporters said they’re not after someone likable to be president.

“This isn’t a personality contest,” former Gov. Bob List said. “I think people realize America is better than an individual personality. We put a personality in (the White House) and he hasn’t done it.”

Nevada delegate Kim Bacchus said Thursday’s convention culmination went a long way toward personalizing Romney. But that isn’t necessarily the goal.

“This is who he is,” she said. “Likable? I think he is admirable. Is likable a requirement? I don’t feel that I have to go out and have a beer with the president of the United States.”

If the GOP primary season was a test of what kind of Republican the rank and file favor as a candidate, clearly the business Republican won.

The Tea Party’s Michele Bachmann failed to sustain traction, as did the social conservative Rick Santorum. The old-guard political insider and ideas man Newt Gingrich never mustered much traction at all.

Although Romney’s support largely held steady even as the popularity of his individual opponents spiked, he had a hard time finding a way to directly appeal to the base of the Republican Party. He had, perhaps, an even more difficult time explaining his previously moderate positions on such issues as abortion and immigration.

In that regard, he’s likely relieved to be speaking to the general electorate.

“That’s Mitt Romney’s sweet spot,” Uithoven said of independent, undecided and voters whose support for Obama is wobbly. “It’s not taking to the base. We all know that. Mitt Romney’s sweet spot is speaking to (those general election) voters.”

Indeed, the entire theme of the Republican National Convention has been to not only focus on Romney’s business acumen, but position him as a champion of business owners.

And that’s where those who support him see his ability to connect with people.

“He connects with people on the very basic idea that he believes in them,” Erwin said. “He believes that if you are willing to work hard, invest in a good education, you can chart your own course. It’s a key reason why voters will move to him.”

Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

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  1. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  2. I thought the Clint Eastwood bit last night was a fair representation of the Republican party as a whole...

    The last vestiges of fading glory.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/081...

  3. Mitt Romney's opening remarks were good. When Romney talks about his family, Romney is good. Romney is not good when he attacks. Romney's attacks are not factual, he and Paul Ryan making inaccurate and distorted comments. Many of their comments are vague references, especially Paul Ryan in his acceptance speech Wednesday night. The 2012 Republican Convention amounted to theme on lies and misleading statement and speeches, the majority coming from current elected Republican officials.

    If this was an appeal to independent voters they failed! We are much harder to persuade. One good open line is not enough to get our vote. Romney's history of inaccurate comments and changing positions cannot be erased with one line. This is an election for the Presidency of the United State. Independent votes need more than one good line to change our minds. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and their support are waging a campaign based on lies and distortions. All with the intent to mislead voters.

    As an independent voter I cannot speak for all independent voters, but I am confident the majority of undecided voters are independent voters. I made my decision to vote for President Obama based on the overall platform of the Republican Party and the presentation over the last 2-years from top Republican officials. I was especially disappointed with the Republican Convention presentation of the majority of speakers and comments by the current Republican governors and the overall message sent out to millions who normally would not be interested in politics. This Republican convention was centered on being inaccurate and misleading to the convention attendees and the millions who watched and listened around the Unite States.

    As far of independent voters goes, many have decided how they would vote before this convention. Now, the undecided independent voters (the majority) will not vote for Romney after viewing this Republican convention. The only way this changes if the Democrats screw up next week. Without any screw-ups from the Democrats, the undecided voters will lean voting Democrat in November.

  4. @Heretic,

    "Longtimevegan, I am an independent and I can't tell you how many false false premises you have because I didn't have my calculator fired up when I read your post.
    Romney and Ryan are by far the best the election season brings."

    Sorry my friend, the reality is Romney and Ryan are campaigning using inaccurate information and clearly distorting the facts. It appears based on your post you did not see or hear the "entire" Republican convention. I did! I did so to help decide on how I would vote in this very important election for President of the United State. For the past 2-years the Republican party and elected Republican officials have distorted the truth and are misleading the voters. It's sad when a major political party conducts a national campaign for the highest office in land on lies and distortions.

    My decision to vote for President Obama is based on many things, many things of facts, not distortions or lie. Many undecided voters who have done their homework and have followed the messages from both party will decide to retain President Obama based on the facts. Facts are Facts, Lies are Lies.

  5. @ Longtimevegan -
    You say "...I CANNOT SPEAK FOR all Independents,...", and you claim that YOU ARE an Inependent. THEN you present a very biased conclusion: " If this was an appeal to independent voters they failed!" You also say: "As far (sic) of independent voters goes, many have decided how they would vote before this convention." Is this comment the result of an opinion survey YOU took!?

    Your rambling and (preceived) illogical comments offer very little accurate insight as to the QUALITIES that Americanse expect in a President. Without favoring either Party, I find that Mitt Romney made his case very well - and the many supportive speakers offered insights into the man, his life, his business abilities - and found resounding approval by 2,000+ Delegates at this GOP convention.

    Statistically, there will many voters who will APPROVE of what was said. After all, Mitt Romney DID WIN THE GOP PRIMARY - and it took millions of people voting for him to achieve this.

    I'm sure Romney won't be seen as an alternative to Obama by many people (of ANY Party). But, I believe that his PROVEN abilitiy to "turn businesses around" toward profitability - and to enable private sector job creation - is EXACTLY what America needs now.

    Mitt Romney's ideas for saving America from the brink of economic bankruptcy will be fundamental to achieving the necessary financial CHANGE in direction that America needs.

    So I would not be so quick to dismiss Mitt's abilities, as you seem to be doing. Among his many good qualities, as stated by many people, the most credible and important quality is probably that PEOPLE CAN TRUST HIM TO DO WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO.

    Of course, anyone can be a skeptic, and people SHOULD evaluate what Mitt Romney says. But so far, what he says is based on his "TRACK RECORD" - and makes sense. This is because he has ALREADY DONE (for businesses) - what he proposes to do for America.

    Mitt Romney is NOT a politician; he is a business man. And Obama is NOT a business man; he is obviously a politician. So who better to save our economy than someone who has not only WORKED and DONE THIS in the business world for over 30 years, but who HAS ALSO SAVED many business from economic ruin. And, as a result, became very successful himself.

    Americans are not "losers" - and SHOULD "hire" the BEST man (or woman) for the job; especially if they want to see a successful conclusion. Because, the "American Dream" is, essentially, "...the pursuit of happiness...." And achievement of such happiness requires being SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE.

  6. @The-Socratic-Inkwell,

    Thanks for the respond. You apparently are laser focus on my words. If this is your point of reference, how do you explain the lies and distortions, and the misleading statements from elected Republican officials, and the overall theme of the Republican convention (supported by Romney and especially Ryan) to voters?

    My post is strictly about the truth of "your candidates" telling lies and presenting distortions to the voters. As an independent voter I am most confident many other undecided independent voters who have done their homework and have followed the messages of both parties will vote for President Obama in November.

    Again, it's sad when a major political party conducts a national campaign for the highest office in land on lies and distortions.

    Your looking for numbers, for facts? Do your homework! I hope your not one who relies on opinion news, talking heads, or extreme talk radio to make your decision on important issues?

    Lies are lies, and Facts are Facts.

  7. Romney has a disconnect with most people unless they are in the same league as he is. It is obvious when he is speaking in front of crowds as he has been doing all summer. He "thinks" he understands them but he really doesn't. He was in his element last night so he came off pretty good and obviously so many of you are in love with him. If roses and kisses were votes, he'd be president already!! He played it well.

    I'm not saying he is a bad person. His religion doesn't bother me in the least(I had the fortunate experience to work with and know quite a few Mormons when living in Vegas and ALL were very nice, warm people and would go out of their way to help you). His religion may be the only thing that makes him more relatable to people even though most don't know a damn thing about Mormonism other than the young guys in white shirts and dark ties that come knocking at your door. Nor am I saying he is not capable of being president; I actually kind of like him but it's evident at times he is uncomfortable around those who are not like him. 90% of America is NOT like him. When I worked at the law firm in Chicago, I met men like him - multimillionaires, sharp dressers, egotistical, smart, good looking. Some were very nice and down to earth, most were not. I always thought they had a coldness to them, no warmth in their eyes. The only reason why they treated me with any kind of respect was because my boss was THEIR lawyer! Romney reminds me of those clients.

    Romney may be a dynamo in the boardroom and in the business world but will that carry over into the Oval Office and onto the world stage in good times and in times of crisis? Being President is more than a balance sheet and stock portfolios. I think he would be an incredible asset to be on any President's cabinet. He has the smarts in certain areas but lacks it in other areas, important areas.

  8. check out this analysis of the speech:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/31...

  9. Crystal:

    "[S]peaking in a language of hatred" is far from a monopoly of either the "liberal media" or democratic politicians. Whether it is politicians on the right (like Newt) or their media supporters (like Rush), demonizing the opposition is a universal attribute of politics and politicians, and has been since the beginning of time.

    I resolve my choice by reference to a quote from Aaron Sorkin's script in Newsroom, where his lead character says:

    I'm a registered Republican, I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.

    How can you possibly want to elect someone, regardless of their economic policies, who thinks climate change is junk science and evolution is the teaching of the devil?

  10. I heard that later, Clint Eastwood got into a fist fight with a sofa....

  11. ....and the sofa won by a knockout.

  12. @heretic. Yes GM is shutting down the assembly of Volt. Just for six weeks. Volt has sold more in the past month than at anytime in it's short history, over 2500 this month. Original projections were for 40,000 Volt's the first year. GM has admitted these projections were too high soon after the car was launched. The people at the plant are not being laid off, they are being put to work retooling a portion of the plant for a new product. And yes the government has made money on GM which I'm sure has gone into the Treasury. Oh yes the pricetag of the Volt is just over $40,00.00. Even though I probably could afford it, that's one hell of alot of money to just get to and from work.

  13. As for Romney's speech, he didn't convince me he has what it takes. The one thing I do know is that if a Republican gets elected, you'll never hear a word about the deficite, or the budget. In the 70's there was a man who proposed the two Santa Claus theory. His name I believe was Jude Lewinsky. His theory was to have his party spend like Drunken Sailors when in power. And then scream about the deficite and budget and blame the other party when out of power. Reagan did this so did 'w' and his father.

  14. Mitt the Flip has already lost this election for many reasons too numerous to outline here but formost amongst those is his inability to achieve the status of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Although very wealthy, FDR was considered a "traitor to his class" given his preference to legislate in favor of the average American over the obscenely rich. Roosevelt was elected to the Presidency an unprecedented four times because Americans understood that he supported them above all others. His "New Deal" became the foundation for prosperity in the United States through Depression, WWII and long thereafter until Ronald Reagan upset the upplecart during his tenure. RR was the beginning of the end for US manufacturing and the inception of foreign outsourcesing as a profit center. Wholesale, Reagan's former economic braintrust have disavowed his "trickle down" philosophy yet Romney would double down and hew to such that the our middle class would ultimately become but a faint memory. Romney's opportunity to connect with the populace has long passed. He's not one of us. Never has beeen. Never will be. Hope he enjoys a long, very prosporous retirement in whatever state he elects to call home. I pray that his vintage car elevator never beaks down. Ann would be really upset if she couldn't get one of her show horses out of the basement.

  15. The real truth is that Romney in not being himself will lose this election. He is a nice man who in his desire to become President has compromised on everyone of his principles.
    His latest fiasco was in picking Paul Ryan to be his running mate.
    How much evidence do you want that this man voted for ALL of Bushes fiasco bills and now calls himself a fiscal conservative. The evidence is there. More importantly in last speech the other night he actually lied 5times . This is not a joke or political expediency. This is factually a real lie. His new name is Lyin Ryan. He wont get away with it as he will be called out for these lies everytime he speaks'
    Last and most importantly the real race is for who controls congress.
    The people in the Republican party who really should be tried for treason . not against their party but against the American People
    We could be well down the road to recovery if they would have cooperated. Everyone in their heart has to know that if they are not thrown out the next 4 years will be more of the same. No change No way .

  16. Is Anjeanette Damon a Journalist or Political Commentator. If she's going for Commentator, Rush's Job is already taken. All I noticed of the Convention is that there was ZERO factual Accuracy in what they were accusing President Obama of, Plus a lot of Fogging of their issues to keep their low information voters uninformed. Some actual Fact Checking (of Both Parties) instead of this fluff article would have been great.