One of the lesser-noticed, but perhaps most telling, moments during Mitt Romney‘s interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier Tuesday night came toward the end, at the start of Baier’s “lightning round.”
Asked what book he’s read most recently, Romney said, “I’m reading sort of a fun one right now, so I’ll skip that,” adding, “I just read ‘Decision Points’ by President Bush.”
This begs the obvious question of what could be more embarrassing that reading a George W. Bush tome. Is he reading the scratch ‘n sniff edition of Snooki‘s A Shore Thing?
Romney has taken some ribbing in the past over his reading choices. Some websites needled him earlier this year over his admission that he’s a big Twilight fan, almost exactly four years after he took grief for telling Fox News that his favorite novel was Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard‘s Battlefield Earth. (Romney was careful to add that he was “not in favor of his religion by any means.”)
The “what do you read” question has tripped up many a candidate, but it’s not as if Romney said he was getting his news from Hubbard or Team Edward. While we may kid candidates about stuff like this, Romney’s affinity for crap shouldn’t matter at all to voters, or anyone else. In fact, as a guy who loves to chair dance to the Lil Mama remix of Avril Lavigne‘s Girlfriend in the car, and doesn’t care who knows it, I find Romney’s willingness to admit the embarrassing somewhat endearing.
The reason that Romney’s response to Baier is so telling is that it demonstrates that these superficialities matter to him. When he took grief over Battlefield Earth, he had his spokesperson put out a statement clarifying that it was only one of his favorite books, and that The Bible was his favorite. This time around, he dodged the question entirely.
What’s really strange, though, is that he said the first part out loud. Instead of just telling Baier, “I’m reading Decision Points,” he engaged in a bit of “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake!” honesty by telling him that he’s reading something “fun.”
Politically speaking, he’d have been better off just lying, but maybe it says something about Mitt Romney that he couldn’t bring himself to lie, but was also too afraid to tell the truth.
What’s also interesting is that Baier had a question about Romney’s religion queued up right after the book question. Did he think the answers might be related?
Baier asked, “Do you think your faith will hurt you in this primary election, and what do you think the biggest misconception of your faith is?”
Romney said he thought it might have some impact with “a narrow group of voters” (don’t be so sure he wasn’t using “narrow” as a double-entendre), and cleverly answered that the biggest misconception about his religion is the name. “It’s the Church of Jesus Christ,” Romney said, with a pause for emphasis on Jesus Christ, “of Latter-Day Saints.”
Here’s the clip, from Fox News:
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