At the start of Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” on Thursday morning, substitute host Luke Russert insisted Barack and Michelle Obama are popping up all over network TV, from Barack on the NCAA Final Four championship halftime show to Michelle being on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” So “There's this culture of personality that Mitt Romney just can't compete with.”
There you have it: MSNBC saying Romney can’t beat Obama because NBC and the other networks keep polishing his and his wife’s image on non-news shows. Roll Call reporter Shira Toeplitz agreed with young Russert, saying Romney looks “totally inaccurate and inauthentic” when he tries to be a “regular Joe.” Stupid voters are Obama’s, she said: “a lot of times these voters think with their hearts and not their heads. And if they find Obama more likable and optimistic end of the day, he'll probably win their vote.”
The Obamas are winning on what Laura Ingraham calls the "razzle dazzle" appearances, and the networks have been repeatedly willing to offer free "regular Joe" air time to both Barack and Michelle. Some don't even get much press attention. Wait, Obama made a funny video for the Betty White 90th birthday tribute show?? You can't keep up with all the "free media" the networks give this guy. Here's the transcript prepared by MRC's Scott Whitlock:
MITT ROMNEY (clip): This November we'll face a defining position. Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle.
LUKE RUSSERT: This, to me, is a very sober Mitt Romney. No, we've heard all along from Mitt Romney, believe in America, believe in this optimistic notion that we're in these dark ages right now under President Obama. But, he seems to be shifting to this sober, "Well, I know what I'm doing here. Let me get my hands on Washington." Does that message really resonate with Mitt Romney? Can he be the sober candidate?
CHARLES BLOW, New York Times: Listen, Mitt talks about you can't run away from his record. That's his problem, actually. He can't run away from the positions he has held. That's going to be the biggest albatross around Mitt Romney's neck. And number two, this- you don't have to win the base on either side in this election and probably in any kind of modern politics. It's pretty much set up. Dems are going to vote Democratic. Republicans are going to vote Republican. You're really fighting over a this thin slice in the middle. And the middle has two segments. There are the truly engaged, this is a smaller group. The truly engaged, but not really attached to either one of the wings. But then there's the bigger part of the middle, which is like a big tumbleweed. And they have to be won, they're attracted to someone with vision, who they actually believe in. They're not deep into policy. They're not going to be- they're not going to vote on who's going to do what to Medicare. They really have to attach themselves to the person, and Mitt has a big problem according to the polls in that he is not selling himself as a likable, believable human being.
RUSSERT: And, Shira, on that point, you watched TV. You watch the Final Four the other night, Barack Obama at half time, long interview, Michelle Obama is going to be on the Biggest Loser. You see pictures of Obama with the kids. There's this culture of personality that Mitt Romney just can't compete with.
SHIRA TOEPLITZ (Roll Call): No. And I think the more Mitt Romney tries to be likable, the worse off he is. When he tries to be appealing, when he tries to seem like a regular Joe, it looks totally inaccurate and inauthentic on him. And what's interesting is the Obama White House has done a fairly good job of making the President likable, no matter what the economy is showing, no matter the Dow Jones average. What they've done is by doing these kinds of media opportunities on the Biggest Loser, like you just mentioned, with Michelle Obama, they've always kept his likability rating up there, which will be really interesting, because, like Charles mentioned, national elections come down to the people in the middle. And a lot of times these voters think with their hearts and not their heads. And if they find Obama more likable and optimistic end of the day, he'll probably win their vote. I think it's very interesting that Romney came out with this rather pessimistic strategy. It's like he wants to remind a lot of voters, "Wait. Hold on. The economy isn't that good yet. Wait, don't believe it yet."
This is not surprising from Toeplitz -- she liked appearing with Keith Olbermann on Current TV.