Taking care of business: If Mitt Romney is elected, he'll be the real MBA president. That's what you're supposed to take away from his latest ad, "Business World," in which he promises to "audit Washington top to bottom and cut spending." He did it at the 2002 Olympics, he did it as governor of Massachusetts (he doesn't mention the state by name), and he'll do it again as commander in chief. Need proof? Look, he's shaking hands with people. Now he's pointing to some charts. OK, there's the sleeve roll-up. Can you feel the synergy? Have a look:
The efficiency spiel is what fiscal conservatives want to hear, and Romney smoothly works it into his "change begins with us" theme. But it also reinforces perceptions of Romney as MR-1000, the kindly autobot whose CPU needs recharging every night. He has a knack for making warm themes sound cold. At last week's Family Research Council conference, he stressed that "family is a vital economic unit." Well, yes, but that's probably not how values voters think of their spouses and children. It's no surprise Ann Romney was the one narrating the campaign's family-themed ad "Our Home."
You also have to wonder whether a résumé built on business acumen is any match for one built on crime-fighting and security, like Rudy Giuliani's. (According to their messages, at least.) Does anyone care deeply that Romney saved the Olympics? It was a major accomplishment, by all accounts, and earned him plaudits from businessmen and politicians alike. But when you say it over and over, it starts to sound like Fred Thompson ushering John Roberts through the confirmation process—an accomplishment John Dickerson called "the legal equivalent of walking Michael Jordan onto the court." Compared to Giuliani at Ground Zero, Romney in the board room isn't the most compelling image. At the FRC conference, the day after Romney spoke, conservative leader Bill Bennett urged voters to listen to their hearts. If Romney is lucky, they'll stick with their heads.