Romney v. Glenn

Good video here of a Mitt Romney press opportunity in some kind of an office supply store in, I think, South Carolina. Romney makes the claim that there are no lobbyists running his campaign, and a reporter challenges him on it. Romney then parses his answer to explain away the presence of a lobbyist (who he calls a “dear friend”) as a campaign advisor, which does not satisfy the reporter. The candidate gets back on message and finishes his remarks, and then while leaving takes the time to confront the reporter, who also earns himself a confrontation from one of Romney’s handlers.

Now, most of us probably like the idea that the President won’t be beholden to lobbyists but aside from that don’t care very much who runs a candidate’s campaign. The video is more interesting from a personality point of view. It is clear that Romney does not enjoy being challenged and has had quite enough of this reporter. He doesn’t lose his cool, but he does heat up a little bit, and the level of his frustration and anger is manifest in his seeking a second round of confrontation with the reporter.

It shows a distasteful side of Romney’s personality. To be fair, I strongly doubt that this distasteful trait is unique to Romney amongst the population of major candidates for the Presidency. I’d bet that all of them, even the seemingly genteel Barack Obama or the seemingly affable Fred Thompson, can be like that. And one thing we don’t know is how much pushing this reporter had done with Romney in prior press stops — the handler afterwards indicates that this was not the first time this reporter had confronted Romney.

There is also the question of whether this reporter was doing his job or not. A good reporter’s job is not to simply absorb information placed before him and then regurgitate it; a level of critical thought and willingness to challenge apparently incorrect information is needed for a reporter to really do his job well. So I think it’s probably right for the reporter to have challenged the candidate on the claim that “there are no lobbyists running my campaign” when it appears that a lobbyist is helping guide the campaign or providing input into strategic choices. But at the same time, once you have an answer to your challenge to include in your report, is it worth it to ask the same question again and again? One gets the impression that this reporter has been pressing on this point against Romney for a while now. I’m not a reporter so I don’t know whether this guy crossed any lines or not.

I do know that the video is worth watching, at least for political junkies, to see what Romney’s like when he’s mad.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.