Suzanne Fields
A tiny incident in the life of a candidate can sometimes tell us more about him than a dozen speeches or television commercials. When Mitt Romney paused to rub his wife's aching feet after a tough and tiring day of campaigning in Michigan last fall, we got just a glimmer, but a bright one, of insight into the man who would be president.

Romney, so we're told over and over, is a stuffed shirt who doesn't smoke or drink and lacks quotable spontaneity. He should loosen up. Well, it's time to talk about his warmer qualities.

Here was an off-camera intimacy, unmistakably spontaneous and touching, noted by a reporter in the days when the candidate was still the "unlikely standard-bearer" for the Republican Party. But for a mention in The Washington Post, it went mostly unnoticed. We're so jaded with graphic depictions of sex that we're often blind to the enduring simplicity of marital affection.

Now that Texas has rewarded Romney with the last of the delegates he needs for the Republican nomination -- primaries in six remaining states, including California next week, are rendered afterthoughts -- we can take the time to see the whole man behind the media stereotype.

The early punditry about how he could never be the nominee goes down the memory hole with the famous banner on the front page of the Chicago Tribune: "Dewey Defeats Truman." (The photograph of a gleeful Harry Truman holding up the front page even became a postage stamp.) Romney still has a long way to go for the ultimate prize in November, but he's far beyond where his father, his inspiration to get into politics, got 40 years ago.

Four years ago, Barack Obama showed that the hard bigotry of race could be overcome; many Americans took a special pride in voting for a black man. Now we'll see whether a softer, more subtle bigotry can be overcome.

Bill Maher, the television "comedian" who gave a million dollars to the Obama super PAC, which the campaign says it won't give back no matter the nasty things he says about women, ridicules Romney's youthful Mormon missionary work in France as "trying to browbeat Frenchmen into joining his cult."

So far the jibes and jokes about the candidate's religious beliefs have been mostly restrained. The Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" satirized Mormon evangelism, but Democrats who might like to take a hit or two haven't dared.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a Mormon, and he has four other Mormon colleagues in the Senate, with 10 in the House of Representatives. When someone described these congressmen as a "Mormon mafia," the phrase was dismissed as a stale attempt at cleverness.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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