PARIS -- Mitt Romney's biggest problem in this race isn't that he's wealthy -- it's that he lacks the sort of passion that can only be forged by trial and tribulation. It's one thing to articulate the principles of free-market capitalism and limited government as the solution to the country's current woes, but they have little effect when they can't be strapped to an emotional rocket and delivered in surgical strikes straight through voters' hearts.
Politics will always be about connecting with people. The most ingenious political policy is useless as ink on paper. To be of any value, it requires someone with the ability to understand it, internalize it, believe it with every fiber of his being, distill it into rhetorical power packs, and deliver them with pinpoint precision.
Instead, what we're seeing with Romney is a sort of line-item delivery of his plan in a manner consistent with his financial technocrat background. At the Republican convention, Clint Eastwood's chastising of an empty chair stood in stark contrast to Romney's performance, if only because Eastwood seemed to have a greater attachment to that chair than Romney had to the words emanating from his mouth.
I understand that fiery rhetoric is not Romney's style, and that he's more laid back. Unfortunately, in this economy, few among the voting public have the luxury of feeling that way. This is precisely where Romney's biggest disconnect with voters lies, and it's this striking emotional disparity that must be bridged prior to Election Day.
The question voters will ask themselves this time isn't, "Which one of these guys would I want to have a beer with?" but rather, "Which one would I most want to rant with after a few beers?" Voters are left with the distinct impression that Romney would sit there sipping Diet Coke and checking his stocks on his BlackBerry.
Moreover, with polls consistently showing a tight race, the most important factor is the ability to actually get voters off their behinds on Election Day. The election could very likely come down to which candidate has the best GOTV (Get Out The Vote) ground campaign. Romney must realize he's up against a formidable opponent in former community organizer Barack Obama. GOTV strategies rely on targeting specific groups and communities, members of which are often enticed more by emotional pleas than by raw data or facts.
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