Evidently, former Gov. Mitt Romney is feeling a little sorry for himself on the morning of a surprisingly tight Michigan primary.
In his first press conference in three weeks, Romney said:
We've seen throughout the campaign, if you're willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative, attacking of President Obama, that you're going to jump up in the polls. I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support. I am who I am.
What to make of this pity party?
It seems Romney believes he's telling the "accountant's truth" while his more colorful rivals are reaching for "ecstatic truth," as I put it recently. Yet I distinctly recall Romney informing former Speaker Newt Gingrich that politics "ain't beanbag." Is the guy whose formal campaign and super PAC have spent millions on attack ads now claiming he doesn't play hardball? Or is he saying, even more curiously, he's not willing to play hardball against the president?
I'd like to know, more basically, what, for Romney, constitutes "incendiary."
Is the claim that Obama doesn't "understand America" and seeks to establish an "entitlement society" not strong sauce? Not "accusative"? What about his charge that Obama is an appeaser whose rhetoric abroad is like "kindling" to "anti-American fires." Sounds pretty (and literally) incendiary to me.
Lastly Romney is whining about former Sen. Rick Santorum's robocalling gambit to persuade Democrats to vote in the GOP primary and sabotage Romney. "Republicans have to recognize there's a real effort to kidnap our primary process," Romney said.
Funny, I don't remember Romney once complaining about the many Democrats who have crossed over to vote for Rep. Ron Paul during this "primary process." Is it "kidnapping" only when those crossover votes come at Romney's expense?
Jonathan Chait notes that it's a bit rich for a guy who "has reversed some of his most fundamental political principles and reinvented his entire political persona" to declare, with Book of Genesis gravity, "I am who I am."
"I am who I am." That's right. Republican voters know very well who Mitt Romney is. And that's why he's having a devil of a time wrapping this thing up.