John Feehery: Speaking Engagements



Posted on December 5, 2011
Relax, Mitt

For me, the low point of the Romney campaign was when he said he tried beer once and he didn’t like the taste of it, so he never tried it again.

I guess I understand the religious reasons why Mormons don’t drink (well, no, I don’t understand them, but I am trying to get over it). But don’t patronize all of the beer drinkers out there by saying you tried it once, but you didn’t like it.

Beer is something that tastes better the more you drink it. Believe me. I know.

Newt Gingrich likes to drink beer. It is the Irish side of him. He spent many a night at my favorite haunt, The Dubliner Bar on Capitol Hill, having more than a few pints of Guinness. Guinness is more than beer, actually. It is like a protein shake that gives you a nice buzz after the fourth one (or third one, depending on your drinking capabilities).

I doubt Mitt Romney has ever had a pint of Guinness. Which is too bad, because if ever a candidate needed to have a few pints in order to calm down, it is Mitt Romney.

I have long assumed that Romney was going to get the nomination. But my assumption is now in serious doubt, after that dreadful appearance on the Fox News Network. Brett Baier is a nice guy and a good reporter, but Brett didn’t exactly give Mitt Romney the Mike Wallace treatment.

He wasn’t lobbing softballs, but Baier wasn’t giving him any real tough knuckle balls either. If Romney can’t answer those questions without getting flustered, what is he going to do when he gets the nomination and then the media really starts going after him?

The media wants Mitt Romney to win the nomination. They assume that the GOP base is too crazy to give it to Huntsman (their top choice), and they certainly don’t want Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, Ron Paul or Hermann Cain to get it. They are intrigued by Newt (if only for the good copy he provides), but at the end of the day, they will do their level best to knock Newt out.

They want Romney because they believe that should Obama falter, at least Mitt won’t run the country completely into the ground.

So far, the media has treated Romney with kid gloves, but if he continues to alienate them with a stonewall strategy, those gloves will come off in a hurry.

The Romney campaign has made the calculation that they don’t need the media, and that they can run a highly discipline operation without talking to them at all. I think that is a big mistake.

Romney is himself Mr. Self-Discipline. He is a walking, talking embodiment of talking points. He rarely says anything very interesting. And that is part of his problem.

The former Massachusetts governor has to open up, not shut down. He has to prove that he can provide real leadership by showing us who he really is, not coming up with a contrived portrait of who a statistical majority might want him to be.

And yes, that means opening up to the media. That means interacting with reporters as if they were human beings, not as if they are bunch of pond scum that need to be avoided at all costs.

Romney has thus far run a pretty good campaign. He has done his homework, built a good campaign operation, put together an in-depth plan (too in-depth a plan, actually), and been fairly steady throughout the year.

Steadiness in a campaign is a virtue, but it is not the only virtue. Discipline is an attribute, but it is not the only attribute.

Mitt needs to show that he can relax a little. It would do his campaign a world of good.