Face the Nation: Why is Mitt Romney afraid of the media?

Mitt Romney lapses into Mitt Speak, which means saying as little as possible about anything important, even if it’s on immigration. Photo: Mitt Romney campaigning in Pennsylvania AP

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2012 — Ever notice that Mitt Romney tries to avoid reporters like the plague? Sure they are on the campaign trail with him, but they get limited access. Remember John McCain’s Straight Talk Express bus, where it seemed like every evening on the nightly news you saw a warm, often funny McCain chatting away about issues or nonissues.

Now we have Mitt Romney on the Believe in America bus for the six state tour called “Every Town Counts” and nearly no access for pesky reporters. Maybe if you are from a Penny Saver, you will get some face time. But that has been the Romney strategy all along. Reminds you a lot of the Sarah Palin strategy after she goofed on national TV with Katie Couric.

That is until Sunday morning on “Face the Nation,” when Mitt sat down in a bucolic Pennsylvania setting with black and white cows grazing in the background and, of course, the Believe in America bus. If Romney had been worried that it would be more Face the Music than “Face the Nation,” he needn’t have fretted. Host Bob Schieffer lobbed soft balls and did very little real follow up. Made you long for a Bret Baier or Chris Wallace of Fox News. Really.

Bret Baier and Chris Wallace: Squirm Masters

Or did you forget how Mitt squirmed, becoming testy as Bret Baier honed in on the candidate? That was the same Bret Baier who irked the heck out of President Obama as well. And then there was Chris Wallace, the Left’s favorite moderator on the Right. Now there is a guy who knows how to ask questions no matter who sits in front of him and then follow up with a zinger or two when the politician in front of him dodges the answer. After a grilling by Chris Wallace, Romney probably prefers “Fox and Friends” where a hard question is more apt to be “How do you keep your girlish figure, Mr. Candidate?”

Small wonder Romney avoids the media whenever he can. He just doesn’t like the questions. Probably because he doesn’t have the answers. He prefers platitudes, generalities and sound bites to specifics.

For instance, Romney has yet to tell the American people where he will make his spending cuts to compensate for his immense tax breaks for the 1 percent. He basically says, “Be patient, trust me, you will get the details down the road.” We’ve been hearing this evasive rhetoric ever since the first Republican primary. When is Romney going to unveil what programs he would cut and by how much? Is this going to be his Inaugural Surprise? A gotcha moment?

Another good reason for Romney to head for the hills whenever he sees a microphone coming his way is that he is incredibly boring. Romney is better than Ambien for the sleep challenged. Just look at this convoluted non-answer to Schieffer’s question about Obama’s new immigration policy:

Schieffer: Would you repeal this?

Romney: Well, it would be overtaken by events if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution, with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a President but on a permanent basis.

Good Lord, what did he say? Does he even know, or does spewing gobbledygook just come naturally to him?

Mitt Speak Takes Evasion to a Whole New Level

The whole “Face the Nation” interview while light on specifics revealed a lot about the candidate even as he lapsed into Mitt Speak, which he has perfected, allowing him to pontificate while saying nothing or making the same talking points over and over and over. Pretty soon, the media will stop asking him questions and jump off the bus in the next town and start covering a sheriff’s race.

Grover Norquist:”Take the anti-tax pledge or else.” AP

Here is some of what Romney had to say on “Face the Nation” for those of you waiting with bated breath:

Reducing Taxes:

Romney, who signed Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, stood by that pledge, saying that he wants to reduce taxes by limiting tax deductions and exemptions, but remained vague when asked specifically what changes he would make. He demurred, saying he would “go through that process with Congress.” In other words, Trust me, folks.

Cutting Spending:

Schieffer asked Romney if he still held to the belief he espoused during the primary that he would never agree to even one dollar in tax increases even if it were offset with ten dollars of cuts in federal spending. Absolutely, Romney said. Never, ever.

“The only solution to taming an out-of-control spending government is to cut spending. And my policies reduce the rate of spending, bring government expenses from 25 percent, federal expenses, from 25 percent of the economy down to 20 percent and ignite growth of our economy.” But again, as he has in the past, Romney refused to be specific: Just trust me, America.

What to do about Iran?

Romney flexed his muscles, telling Schieffer that he would take a hardline, implying that President Obama’s foreign policy is soft: “I can assure you, if I’m President, the Iranians will have no question but that I would be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world.” Ok, but what does that mean? Oh, we get it. Just trust you to do the right thing, whatever that is.

What if Europe’s economy collapses?

Schieffer wanted to know how Romney planned to keep America from tumbling into another recession or worse. The Romney prescription? “We’re not going to send checks to Europe. We’re not going to bail out the European banks. We’re going to be poised here to support our economy.” OK, no one suggested that, Mr. Romney.

So Schieffer then asked what Mitt would do right away. “Take advantage of our energy resources. We have an extraordinary gift which is massive natural gas reserves as well as coal and oil.” In fact just last week, Mitt was so enamored of the Keystone XL pipeline that he said, “If I have to build it myself to get it here, I’ll get that oil into America.”

Schieffer did point out that would not bring in enough revenue to make a difference, but Romney only gave a wan grin and moved on.

At the end of interview, while downplaying his time as governor of Massachusetts but touting his credentials as a job creator, Romney explained why he was running for President:

“I am in this race because I want to get America back on the right track. I don’t care about re-elections, I don’t care about the partisanship that goes on. I want to get America right.”

Ten to one, what Romney really meant was “I want to get America Right.”

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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