Monday, July 2, 2007

The Republicans' Mr. Fix-it

The Republicans' Mr. Fix-it

(Fortune Magazine) -- Willard Mitt Romney looks great in a suit. Which is good for him, because all day "Matinee Mitt" has been wearing a crisp, gray number. Speeches, grip-and-grin events, a veterans hall - no venue-appropriate costume changes, just pure Brooks Brothers. Even now, when it's 85 degrees and he's surrounded by people in shorts, the man won't so much as loosen his tie.

It's Memorial Day, we're standing around waiting for a photo shoot to begin in front of his summerhouse on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee, and he's refusing his handlers' pleas to at least take his jacket off. "This is going to be like Nixon on the beach," a campaign worker mutters, referring to a 1960s photo of the late former President strolling the sands of sunny San Clemente, looking as though he'd rather be negotiating with the Soviets.

You could interpret Romney's wardrobe as a sign of Nixonian stiffness. Or as a deliberate choice, which may be closer to the truth. Perhaps he wants to convey extreme focus and discipline. (He talks the way he looks, in perfectly controlled, press-release-ready platitudes. For example, when I ask what he'd do first as President, he answers, "I will do a complete assessment of where we are, where the problems are, what challenges we face. Every dimension of government I would take apart - look at how effective they are.")

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