Feature

Will tears save Romney?

Mitt Romney publicly blinked back tears at least twice this week, said Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe, but his effort to prove he's human will backfire if voters think he's insincere. He has to take that risk, said Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg. The Io

What happened
Mitt Romney publicly blinked back tears at least twice this week—first on NBC’s Meet the Press when describing his reaction when the Mormon church opened the priesthood to blacks, and later in a New Hampshire speech as he talked about seeing a soldier’s casket. One analyst said Romney needed to “show he’s caring” as he attacks rival Mike Huckabee with ads, but Romney campaign aides said “he is a normal person and has emotions like anyone else.” (Des Moines Register)

What the commentators said
Careful, Mitt, said Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe (free registration). Nobody wants to vote for “a robot,” but they don’t want “a phony,” either. It’s fine to muss up your hair and shed a few tears to prove you’re more than a “cool, take-charge businessman.” But remember, “insincerity is a killer on the campaign trail.”

Romney has to take the risk, said Margaret Carlson in Bloomberg.com. He’s a “cyborg,” and he needs to show that “androids can loosen up.” Romney tries to compensate by “surrounding himself with lifelike family members whenever possible.” But he has to do better than that now that the Iowa caucuses are near, and all the candidates are trying to shift from being “tough, experienced know-it-alls to cuddly and warm.”

Romney isn’t the only one giving his tear ducts a workout, said Michael McAuliff in the New York Daily News. Hillary Clinton is on a “get-to-know-me” tour in Iowa, and she nearly wept listening to a breast cancer survivor express her support. Tears aren’t the poison they were in 1972 when Edmund Muskie killed his presidential hopes by welling up. But Clinton’s advisers don’t want her to “openly cry” because they’re afraid “a weepy woman running for President would be viewed as weak and vulnerable.”

That's sound logic, said Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence in USA Today’s On Politics blog. The men in the race can afford to do a little blubbering, but Clinton must avoid misting up at all costs. Voters these days don't mind if a man shows a little emotion, but they judge women in politics differently. Their tears are never forgotten.

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