Michael Barone

Romney was also called on to serve as a leader in the Mormon Church, which has no career clergy, and spent considerable time counseling and tending to fellow believers. That's a constituency not much affected by the '60s.

Romney's difficulty in seeking the Republican nomination is his adaptability to terrain: He sounded one way when he was running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, another way when he set out to run for president in 2007 and 2008.

This seems characteristic. Asked by friends what Romney was really like, one Bain Capital veteran responded, "Which four or five of the Romneys do you mean?" And perhaps it makes sense for a private-equity executive building firms like Staples and Sports Authority to adapt his approach and manner to each company's particular culture.

Romney has shown adaptability in running for president, too. In 2008, he followed the example of George W. Bush (who experienced the '60s in depth and didn't like it a bit), spending lots of money, proclaiming himself pro-life, crisscrossing Iowa. It didn't work.

The way he is campaigning this year seems more in line with his own experience. He has obviously worked hard studying the issues, making himself look like a foreign policy expert, though he has no experience in that line unless you count organizing the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. He has worked hard constructing a New Hampshire firewall and trying to avoid betting too heavily on Iowa.

But though smooth and articulate in debate, he is awkward in chitchat and often sounds corny, as if he is still living in the '50s. That's natural for someone who missed the '60s.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM