Mitt, we hardly knew ye

Mitt Romney is letting his perfect hair down to promote the Netflix documentary chronicling his White House run.  Predictably, without the pressures and influence of a campaign, people are a bit more receptive to him.

(Bob Dole had a similar tour after losing in 1996, trading jokes with David Letterman and quipping that he didn’t “have anything else to do” but write jokes.)

More than one Republican has bemoaned the fact that, had voters seen such a touching look at the Romney family, the 2012 election may have ended differently.  “If only voters had seen THIS Mitt Romney, Obama would have lost!” they tend to exclaim.  Not always in exactly those words, but you get the picture.

And come to think of it, it’s a good point.  One wonders why the documentary had to come out over a year after all the votes were counted.  If the image of Romney presented in the documentary would have swayed the election, Team Romney have only themselves to blame.

A 2016 Presidential candidate could grant access to a friendly but independent documentary filmmaker and create a Netflix or YouTube miniseries.  The film would not be subject to any campaign approval, which would make the vetting process important.  But it would soften the candidate’s image, and possibly help voters relate to the candidate.  It would humanize a talking head voters see on TV.

Gov. Chris Christie could use such a medium to rebound from scandal.  Sen. Rand Paul could use it to articulate how his small-government ideas will help most Americans.  Sen. Ted Cruz could show that he isn’t as much of an ideologue as the media and Democrats suggest.  The one who needs it the most is Hillary Clinton, who is more a creature of Washington, D.C. than any other prospective candidate in the field.

There is a caveat: this strategy only works if the candidate is genuine.  If the public persona doesn’t match private conversations, then it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

For Romney, a running documentary series could have answered the image of the ruthless CEO with one of the consummate family man.  Even though it probably wouldn’t have pushed him over the hump, those who will chase the White House in 2016 should pay attention.

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