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Mitt Romney: An ordinary ($21.6 million a year) American

Mitt Romney is rich. Can American voters get beyond that fact? The Romney campaign is not doing the candidate any favors by trying to portray him as an ordinary American, says DCDecoder.

By DCDecoder / January 24, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pumps gas into a staff member's vehicle during a stop at Hillsborough Gas and Repair in Manchester, N.H. last year.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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Washington

Remember Kim Jong Il Looking at Things? It’s about that awkward looking at Mitt Romney gnoshing on a Subway sandwich, filling up his staffer’s car with gas or dumping Tide into a coin-operated laundry.

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Let’s get something out of the way.

Mitt Romney is rich.

But not just “rich.” He’s not like the dad next door when you were a kid, the guy who owned the hardware store, made it to upper middle management at IBM or made partner at the law firm.

That guy drove a car that was a model and few years better than your parents. That family took vacations to another house they also happened to own and you were jealous that their kids always had cooler clothes.

We now know that Mitt Romney had $21.6 million in income in 2010. He gave $3 million to church and charities.

Mitt Romney is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of quarter of a billion dollars. Do you know what your worth is as a fraction of a billion? No, and neither does Decoder. 

It’s just different. And people get that, Decoder thinks.

Very few people in America really begrudge their fellow citizens for being rich. Sure, there are cranks who assume all the wealthy stole their way to the top but the vast majority of Americans don’t see wealth in-and-of-itself as a bad thing.

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney/his campaign think Mitt needs to make sure he relates to “ordinary Americans” (our words, not his.) And that’s why you get these cheesy, manufactured, down-homie clips of him banging around the laundromat.

As POLITICO wrote Monday morning, one of Romney’s chief problems is simply that he

“tries too hard. That was the issue in New Hampshire when the wealthy former CEO recalled the dread he once had of facing the prospect of a pink slip. And it was the same a week ago in South Carolina when he took the stage at a tented evangelical conference and noted that he was wearing jeans for what he said felt like a revival meeting (the connection between fundamentalist Christianity and denim somewhat less than self-evident).
 Romney the candidate seems to be constantly tugged between competing impulses. At a time of economic distress, the privileged son of a CEO-turned-governor is ever conscious of the need to appear in touch with the sort of financial strain he’s never known. That’s why his speeches center around his determination to improve the quality of life for the middle class, he dresses more casually and ostentatiously posts pictures eating fast food and flying budget airlines.

And it’s why he’s so pained in discussing his fortune.”

If a candidate wants to convince middle America he/she is looking out for their interests, how about concrete policy proposals that help the middle class?

The difference between phony and revealing - this guy isn’t so stiff after all! - is whether a) people see your policies in line with your posturing and b) you are, actually, in touch with typical Americans.

If Mitt Romney wants to convince voters he feels their pain, he needs to actually feel their pain. This is what the media is there for - if Romney actually connects with voters, reporters will see it. And they’ll write it.

If Mitt Romney wants to get his Joe Sixpack on, it will ring much truer after a speech about helping the middle class. 

And let’s just say the road to either place isn’t paved with Subway flatbreads.

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