Romney Has Privacy Problem



This week has been particularly difficult for the Romney campaign. Romney continued to fall behind in nationwide polls; Pew Research has him trailing Obama by 7 percentage points. In swing states, the picture is similarly bleak. Currently, CNN projects that Obama is leading Romney 237 to 191 in the Electoral College.

 In addition to suffering in the polls, Romney has been unable to properly manage his private and public persona. Earlier this week, a grainy video was leaked of a Romney speech from a private fundraiser. His opponents are having a field day over some of his off-the-cuff remarks.
In the video, Romney states, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” and went on to say that “[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Liberal critics easily used these quotes to depict Romney as out of touch and unfeeling.
Romney’s response demonstrates a disappointing lack of understanding of the current media culture. He has tried to downplay the impact of these comments by emphasizing their impromptu nature rather than responding to the content. This further plays into the hands of critics of Romney, who can claim that Romney is not only unable to function without a script, but that he is also secretive. He could have attempted to draw attention to some of the other points he makes in the video, such as his patriotic remarks: “Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.” He could also have released videos from other fund-raising events in order to show off his more personal side and to prove that he has nothing to hide.
Romney has previously demonstrated his hesitance to release additional private information in response to public scrutiny. This week, after months of pressure, Romney finally released his income tax returns. The public learned that Romney donated 30 percent of his income to charitable organizations and paid an effective tax rate of 14 percent on his income, despite unsubstantiated claims by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Romney had not paid income taxes in 10 years.
While Mitt Romney might understandably be hesitant to release what, for anyone else, would be private information, he must realize that the American public, brought up on tabloids and gossip television, expects to know everything about major figures, particularly presidential candidates. He could use this expectation of intimate knowledge as an excuse to release favorable information and build a more personable image, or he could continue to make decisions, such as turning down an invitation to appear on “Saturday Night Live,” that make him seem aloof and secretive. Romney needs to find the correct balance between appearing presidential and not allowing the public to see “the real Mitt Romney,” or he will lose on Nov. 6.