|“I can’t get my head around this.”|
For Romney, a day of scattered campaign messages
September 15, 2012 12:21 am
By Karen Tumulty / The Washington Post/Post Gazette
PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- For a campaign that has been so proud of its discipline and focus, Mitt Romney's message Friday was exceptionally diffuse.
In the morning, he was bantering with television personality Kelly Ripa about his guilty pleasures, that he wears "as little as possible" when he sleeps and that he's "kind of a Snooki fan."
By afternoon, he was standing in pouring rain, his hand over his heart, starting his Painesville rally with a moment of silence for the four Americans killed this week in Libya.
These were the discordant messages the Republican presidential nominee offered at the end of a trying week, in which he struggled both to sound the right tone about protests sweeping the Middle East and to get a foothold in battleground states that will decide the November election.
Mr. Romney's pre-taped appearance on "Live!," the television show hosted by Ms. Ripa and former New York Giants star Michael Strahan, was part of the candidate's continuing effort to show his softer side to female voters -- a group with whom he is struggling to connect.
On the New York set for a show scheduled to air Tuesday, Mr. Romney gushed about Nicole Elizabeth "Snooki" Polizzi, the potty-mouthed star of the MTV series "Jersey Shore." He marveled: "Look how tiny she's gotten. She's lost weight. She's energetic. Just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun."
But coming at a moment of international crisis, as U.S. embassies in the Middle East were beset by anti-American protests, the interview brought shudders from some Republicans who fear that his campaign is running aground in its final stretch.
"I can't get my head around this," said John Weaver, a former strategist on Republican John McCain's 2008 presidential campaigns. "What is their message? What is going on here? This is not a complicated race against Obama."
Mr. Romney's campaign defended its decision to do the Ripa interview, with advisers pointing to moves by the Obama campaign Tuesday that they said were impolitic on a national day of Sept. 11 remembrance: President Barack Obama did a radio interview with a Miami deejay nicknamed "Pimp the Limp" and raised money in Las Vegas.