Monday, December 24, 2012

Did Mitt Romney Want to be President?

I'm wondering what to make of statements from Mitt Romney's sons that he didn't really want to be President anyway.
"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life," Tagg Romney told the Globe. "He had no desire to ... run. If he could have found someone else to take his place ... he would have been ecstatic to step aside."
There have been rumors or mutterings about this for years, and it really is quite confusing. On the one hand, Romney ran as hard for the White House as anyone ever has. On the other, he never seemed to enjoy himself very much. Last summer I watched a video of Romney during the Salt Lake City Olympics, and I was struck by how much more energized and happy he seemed than he had any time up to then during the campaign. At that point I really had the impression that he was completely burned out and would just as soon lose. Compared to Bill Clinton on the stump, or Obama giving one of his soaring speeches, he just seemed flat and tired. But then during the first two debates he really put on a hard charge, and he seemed much more enthusiastic and positive during the last month of the campaign; word from his headquarters was that he really expected to win.

I guess he was ambivalent. His family probably saw more of the negative side, his musings that the job would take him away from the family he obviously loves and subject him to years of the sort of public appearances that seem to be torture for him. But his ambition drove him on, along with the commitments he had made to supporters over the years. He also may have realized early on that the odds were against him, and indulging his doubts about whether he wanted the job may have been a way to insulate himself against the failure he knew was likely.

Either way, he is a very strange person, like almost everyone else who has run for President in the modern era. What sane person would do it?

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