This is one of my favorite pictures of the year I spent covering the 2012 presidential campaign. A good friend took a photo of Mitt Romney holding my iPhone looking at an amazing Instagram photo my friend Evan Vucci had taken earlier that day of Newt Gingrich campaigning at Space Camp. I had asked Romney if he planned to step up his game when it came to campaign events, and he made this face. I thought it was pretty funny, but I couldn’t report on it because the Romneys had come to the back of the plane for an off-the-record chat.
This wasn’t infrequent. Romney often talked to us off-the-record, and it was like watching a different person. He wasn’t stiff, as he often was on the stage. He had a great sense of humor about himself and the whole process. But his campaign staff almost always refused to allow any of what he said to be used on the record—which was incredibly frustrating. (There were some exceptions when Romney seemed to loosen up.)
That brings me to my preview of “Mitt,” the documentary premiering on Netflix Friday about Romney’s quest for the presidency. It’s a pretty candid look at what it is like to run for president and shows the more human side of Romney, which reporters often saw during off-the-record talks but couldn’t use.
No matter how you feel about his politics, it’s a film worth watching, if only to wonder why candidates are so scared to be themselves on the campaign trail. It’s the same question that was asked of Al Gore, when someone leaked a candid video that Spike Jonze shot of him during the 2000 campaign and last fall when the NY Times released its behind-the-scenes video of NYC mayoral candidate Christine Quinn. What is wrong with politics that candidates are so afraid to actually be human beings?
I asked Tagg Romney, the candidate’s son, how his dad felt about the film. “Bittersweet,” he said. (via Yahoo News)