My advice for Mitt Romney: Stop with the smiling.
This is not a game. The fate of our nation is at stake, and trading debate one-liners with a wink and a grin is not the way to convince conservatives that you are serious about it.
Apparently Mitt’s marketing experts think that the way to overcome his plasticman rich white guy image is to have him wear some blue jeans and remove his tie. Get real, Mitt. Rolling up your metaphorical sleeves is not going to convince us that you mean it. Show us that you truly understand the principles of conservative liberty by speaking about those principles from your heart, with passion and conviction, not in carefully crafted, focus group tested bumper-sticker sound bites delivered through clinched smiling teeth. If you can’t deliver those ideas from you heart, then step aside and let someone else run.
Why is Chris Christie so inspiring when he speaks? Because he cares less about carefully crafting an image than about solving problems. Ron Paul, the ultimate curmudgeon, has developed a fanatic fan base because he has a message and knows how to articulate it. President Obama has a charismatic and engaging smile, but he understands that his smile can be at its most powerful when he decides to turn it off.
Of course, being serious does not mean being dour. Conservatives need not be negative or nasty. Remember Reagan? There is a time for levity, and a time for gravity. A time for anger, and a time for inspiration. We have a tremendous message of hope and empowerment that needs to be shared with passion. Glibness won’t cut it.
Maybe charisma is something that can’t be taught – something you’re born with or not. Maybe Romney should stop trying so hard to have it. And maybe his handlers should remind him that he’s running for the most powerful job in the world, not high school cheerleader.