Mitt Romney's Personality Problem

Mitt Romney will lose the election on Tuesday because of his inability to connect to voters.

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Let me give you the lowdown, one overlooked reason why Republican Mitt Romney will lose the presidential race Tuesday: the man Mitt himself. He can't overcome his own character.

For 11 months of 2012, he had many chances to say something that was charming, witty, funny, or moving. But what a sour and dour vibe all the way.

We Americans don't like that, especially in tough times—remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt's jauntiness in the Great Depression? We like to like our presidents, of whatever party. The winning Barack Obama, on the other hand, is generally liked by the electorate, a large advantage in a close contest.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Laughter and light never broke through on Romney's trail and grail to match the man his father—Gov. George Romney was—perchance to surpass him. It didn't happen once. His wife Ann tried so hard to humanize him. Yet Romney never bonded with the American people, not even with the base of white men (mostly) who will vote for him tomorrow. Obama, who grew up a fatherless child and spent years searching for dreams from his absent Kenyan father, by contrast, has much more lightness and grace.

Give Romney this: tall, dark, and handsome, the man does look the part—his hair always perfectly parted. We were relieved to see him win the Republican circus freak primary. And yes, we were impressed at his crisp performance at the first debate.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

But that's all I have to say for the uxorious former governor of Massachusetts. The Mormon Organization Man's excessive greed and ambition barely lurk below the slick surface. He can't connect with 47 percent of us, by his own admission. A man of the people, he ain't.

His vexing negativity goes hand in hand with an unwillingness to stick with any bedrock beliefs. The Washington Post ran an excellent editorial denouncing Romney's "contempt" for voters, and his changing his positions radically over the course of his career. As the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy declared of Romney back in 1994: "I am pro-choice ... My opponent is multiple-choice." The line brought down the house in Boston.

[See photos of the 2012 Presidential Campaign Trail.]

It's also worth noting that Romney's peers—men who have vied with him on political stages—can't stand him. I mean, it's more than the usual give-and-take, spirited conflict between rivals. Kennedy, famous for having friends and allies on the other side of the aisle, found Romney hard work on a personal level. Sens. John Kerry, Harry Reid, and John McCain—two Democrats and a Republican—are three other senators known to loathe Romney.

The more we got to know you, Mitt Romney, the less we found to like. And in the end, presidential politics is personal.

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