Political Animal


March 18, 2012 8:00 AM Hugh Hewitt, Romney’s Special Pleader

By Elon Green

Much attention was given to this week’s Fox News interview with Mitt Romney during which the candidate, as is his wont, performed poorly. His interviewer, Megyn Kelly, didn’t exactly go after him, but neither was the interview the lovefest to which Romney had probably become accustomed. Fox has actually been incredibly hospitable to the candidate, to such an extent that at least one talking head is palpably annoyed:

“I don’t really know what they’re doing, NBC’s Meet The Press host David Gregory said recently. “He is becoming a Fox News contributor apparently, in terms of his interviews over there trying to reach a conservative audience.”

Romney hasn’t appeared on Gregory’s show, despite repeated public invitations. Romney’s reportedly doing an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes soon, but he hasn’t given the other networks the same love as Fox.

I think the ire is misdirected. Yes, it’s certainly pathetic that Romney, a veteran politician, so lacks confidence that he won’t take questions from an actual news organization. But that’s the least of it. If you truly want evidence of the lengths to which Romney will go to stay in friendly territory, the proof is not in his eight appearances this year with Sean Hannity. In fact, if you can believe it, Romney has found an interviewer even less objective: His biographer, Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt is the author of A Mormon in the White House?, a work that, even by the standards of Regnery Publishing, is hardly probing. Per Regnery, Hewitt’s “provocative investigation” uncovered “[t]he key weaknesses that make McCain, Giuliani, and Jeb Bush each unelectable—and that Mitt Romney doesn’t share”; “How Romney battled against his state’s highest court and its overwhelmingly Democratic legislature on behalf of traditional marriage”; and “How Romney saved the Salt Lake City Olympic Games under the very real fear of another terrorist attack after 9/11.”

Etc. In exchange for this glorified campaign pamphlet, Romney has rewarded Hewitt with no less than four interviews this year alone, on January 26, February 7, February 23 and March 8. Perhaps these questions explain Romney’s largesse:

“Tonight, Colorado and Minnesota. Do you expect to extend your winning streak in either or both places?”

“Do you think that these gas prices, Governor Romney, are going to be a major issue through the fall? Or will they be, through the manipulation of the Strategic Oil Reserve, or something else, brought down in time to defuse the issue for the President?”

“But generally speaking, did these debates work to alert the country to the seriousness of the problems we are facing? Or did they trivialize these problems?”

“Now Governor, more generally, you ran the Olympics. You took it over when it was in a state of chaos. And you had a thousand different things going on. I’ve told people about the number of events and countries and athletes. Is running a campaign more or less complicated than running the Olympics?”

“Will you passionately fight for the military if you’re the nominee?”

And my favorite:

“Last question, Governor, quick, there’s a picture over at Hughhewitt.com of you and Mrs. Romney driving four of your grandchildren in a convertible. Is that a ‘63 Nash Rambler?”

Aside from the optics of being interviewed by one’s own biographer — when was the last time Barack Obama sat down with David Remnick? — I expect in the long run, Romney’s reliance on the soft-soap treatment has probably done himself more harm than good. If Megyn Kelly ruffled his feathers, can you imagine how poorly he’ll do when he’s toe-to-toe with the president?


  • Danp on March 18, 2012 8:56 AM:

    You wouldn't think that someone with the political experience that Romnay has would get the Sarah Palin '08 treatment (What newspapers do you read?). I'd bet Newt Gingrich would love the opportunity to slam David Gregory. I might even watch that and cheer. But Romney really is the ultimate chicken hawk, and not just in terms of the military.

  • Hedda Peraz on March 18, 2012 9:07 AM:

    To be fair, he knows the first question Gregory will ask, is: "Governor, have you stopped beating your wife?"
    Oh, wait- did I say Gregory? I meant Ed Schultz. . .

  • SYSPROG on March 18, 2012 9:41 AM:

    Oh Hedda...Gregory would do the TV thing...'you said this on THIS day, and this on the other day. How do you explain it? Heh heh heh'...and Romney would squirm. I actually would relish a 'chat' with Ed. "So Governor. Do you buy into the abolish the Union meme that your buddies in the other Republican states are adopting and WHY?"

  • JonH on March 18, 2012 10:13 AM:

    My dream question for any R:

    What concrete action, if any, would you take to move
    the U.S. towards criminalizing abortion?

    GWB got away with saying the U.S. wasn't ready, and that
    'the culture' would have to change first. I wonder if
    that would play as a revival.

  • TCinLA on March 18, 2012 10:41 AM:

    Hard to believe that there was once a time when Hewitt was taken seriously by non-conservatives as a viable conservative spokesman, back when the local LA PBS station created "SoCal Connected." Of course, given the non-existence of Republicans in California who can put three words together that make sense, it was a pretty low bar for Baby Hughie to get over. Given that he's considered a "thinker" on the right, it demonstrates their complete lack of intellectual capability. People say "intellectual bankruptcy," but bankruptcy implies the loss of something one once had, and the right has never had any actual intellectuals (and I include that overblown moron William Buckley on that list). You have to have a brain to be an intellectual, and no one with a brain would ever be a rightist.

  • JR on March 18, 2012 11:29 AM:

    Dream question for Romney:

    As a candidate, you support a war against Iran. During WWII, your father did not serve. During Vietnam, you did not serve. Through two Gulf wars, not one of your sons have served. Instead, all of you have given at least 2 years of your lives as Mormon missionaries. Why should any American elect a Commander-in-Chief who has a family tradition of putting church before country?

  • AmusedOldVet on March 18, 2012 11:56 AM:

    As if David Gregory ever asks repukkknicans tough or probing questions!

    That is the kettle calling the kettle black.

  • Rick Massimo on March 18, 2012 6:51 PM:

    “Do you think that these gas prices, Governor Romney, are going to be a major issue through the fall? Or will they be, through the manipulation of the Strategic Oil Reserve, or something else, brought down in time to defuse the issue for the President?”

    I thought the wingnut talking point was that the President WANTED higher gas prices.

    It's all gotten so confused and complicated now that they can't just say "n!%%@r" anymore.