Mitt in "Mitt," Or, the Battle in the Candidate's Mind
[F]or viewers who follow politics closely, especially for Republicans who desperately wanted to defeat Barack Obama, there is a revelation in "Mitt" that is not just unexpected but deeply disheartening. At a critical moment in the campaign -- the two weeks in October encompassing the first and second general election debates -- the Romney portrayed in "Mitt" struggled with a nagging pessimism and defeatism, unable to draw confidence even from a decisive initial debate victory over President Obama. Deep down inside, the Romney seen onscreen in "Mitt" seems almost resigned to losing to Obama....
"He'll be better next time," Ann said, as always trying to build her husband's confidence. "But you can be better next time, too."
Romney wasn't buying it. Instead, he went into an extended monologue on how his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was a better man than he will ever be. As he spoke, Romney held the notes he had made during the debate (candidates are not allowed to bring any notes with them to the stage, but are allowed to make them during the debate). Romney pointed out that in every debate he began by writing "Dad" at the top of the paper.
"That's what I start with: 'Dad,'" Romney explained. "I always think about Dad and about I am standing on his shoulders. I would not be there, there's no way I would be able to be running for president, if Dad hadn't done what Dad did. He's the real deal …"
Mitt Romney is an enormously accomplished man, both in private business and public service. He won his party's nomination for president. And he had just decisively beaten the sitting president in perhaps the most important moment of the campaign. And his reaction to that impressive victory was that 1) it was a fluke, a one-time deal; and 2) his father would have done better....
[T]he old lack of confidence came out again as Romney [addressing the staff at campaign headquarters the day after the election] suggested he never felt comfortable in the race. He passed on something someone at headquarters had told him: "In some ways, we kind of had to steal the Republican nomination. Our party is Southern, evangelical and populist. And you're Northern, and you're Mormon, and you're rich. And these do not match well with our party."
A candidate who did not believe he could beat the president in debate, who always felt second-best to his father, who believed the country was moving away from him, and who didn't even feel at home in his own party. The Romney campaign faced many uphill battles in the 2012 campaign. "Mitt" shows us that some of the most intense were in the candidate's mind.