In National Review, editor Rich Lowry argues that Mitt Romney should dump trying to connect with voters and simply channel his inner CEO.
If Romney is the Republican nominee, he would be wise to resist all the advice he’ll get on how to forge the kind of connection with voters that has heretofore escaped him. He should play by different rules: Don’t go out of your way to empathize. Don’t tell anyone about your passions. Don’t share endearing personal stories.
Romney needn’t dazzle with his personality or move people with his struggles. The standard he has to meet is the one Barack Obama famously established for Hillary Clinton back in their 2008 campaign — “likable enough.” People have to like Romney the way they like their accountant. They have to consider him trustworthy and capable, full stop.
Romney is a workmanlike politician. His pitch for himself should be that he’ll be an equally workmanlike president. Although it hasn’t set the GOP on fire, his truest, most natural message is that he’s a turnaround artist — the guy who can rationally evaluate a situation, come up with a plan and execute it. Romney can’t fall back simply on the dreaded Michael Dukakis buzzword of “competence.” His case has to include a vision of a better America. But his implicit slogan should be “No one ever regretted hiring Mitt Romney to do a job.”
The strength of such a pitch: It plays into Romney's wheelhouse without having to turn him into someone he isn't.
The downside: It raises the question if Americans want their president -- in this day and age -- to be more than a competent accountant or a successful business consultant. Do you want this person to be on your TV set (or video player) for the next four years? Do you want him/her to be the one to tell the country the good news as well as the bad? Do you want this person to have the judgment -- even in areas outside of his/her expertise -- to make the right calls?
As Lowry writes, Obama raised expectations among his supporters that he could never meet. And, in that respect, a President Romney would be the anti-Obama.
But is Lowry's pitch for Romney such a low bar that numerous successful Americans could clear? After all, there are lots of people out there that employers -- big ones and small ones -- haven't ever regretted hiring.