By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
With all due respect to said ramblin’ man, a rocker’s life arguably has nothing on the fishbowl road show that is a presidential campaign.
Just ask Matt Romney.
The second oldest of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s five sons, like his now-famous brothers and mother, Ann Romney, has seen just about everything a presidential campaign can dish out. Maybe more in what is arguably one of the more bitterly contested elections in as divided an electorate as the nation has witnessed.
“We’ve been campaigning a lot more than people would expect,” Matt Romney said in an interview Wednesday afternoon with Wisconsin Reporter as he transitioned from meeting with Romney grassroots supporters in Germantown to a get-together with young Republicans in Madison.
“There’s a lot more time, a lot more frustration and anxiety, disappointments, but there’s also great excitement — the highs and lows,” he said of his father’s elongated presidential campaign, now, really, spanning years — from exploration through a bruising GOP primary season to this momentous hour.
The highest of the highs, Matt Romney said, come from the people he meets in places like battleground Wisconsin, the people who have worked countless hours making phone calls, knocking on doors, sending emails, all in the name of his father.
“It’s humbling to see people give up their time, their resources, their money,” he said. “We have people praying for us … That gives you great hope for America. If you only watch the news, you can get jaded.”
The 41-year-old Matt Romney has, to a degree, put his life on hold to campaign for his dad. Not surprisingly, he says he wouldn’t do it all, face it all, if he didn’t believe in the man he and an army of campaigners are trying to sell to voters.
This family campaigner, with a young family of his own, said he’s met a lot of people on the trail, talked at length with many, listened to many more.
Here’s what he told Wisconsin Reporter about life on the political road.
Wisconsin Reporter: How do you deal with the nastiness of this presidential election year?
Matt Romney: I would be lying to you if I said it doesn’t affect me. You learn to develop a thick skin. You have to realize politics is a rough sport. We all knew going into this it was going to be like this, that everyone is going to get dragged through the mud in the process. That’s the name of the game, the sacrifice of running. I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality. But it doesn’t affect your opinion. I know what my family is all about. I know what my dad is all about. I know his character, what his principles are about. I hear things from opponents or media outlets that are not true, but I think over time people get a sense of the person he is.
WR: What’s the one thing being said about your father that drives you crazy?
MR: I would say one of the misperceptions I try to help alleviate is maybe that he doesn’t care. The way we deal with it is to just let people know who my dad really is … Our job is to tell people about the character of the man. Every single month he would take me out to do service (through church), when I was a young man. Of course, I felt like I had better things to do with my time, but I look back now and I’m glad he did. My dad was a pastor of his congregation for 10 years. He came across so many situations where families were struggling and he counseled with them, worked with them, served them, and brought us to serve with him.
WR: What do you think about the latest polls that show Mitt Romney in a dead heat with President Barack Obama in Wisconsin, a battleground state?
MR: We look at them here and there. We don’t read too much into them. We like the positive ones. We don’t like the negative ones (chuckling). We were sensing this in Wisconsin before these polls came out. That’s why I’m here. It’s a tight race. Wisconsin is going to be very close. I feel very good about our prospects of winning here. I will be back, my brother will be back. I’m sure Mom and Dad will be back.
WR: Here’s the big question – Is your dad ever going to go on Letterman?
MR: I used to watch (“The Late Show with David) Letterman” more on TV. I have family members and friends who are big fans of the Letterman show. I was in the city (New York) yesterday (Tuesday) just before the debate, walking by the (Ed Sullivan Studio where the show is taped). I had an impulse to walk in and say, ‘Let’s do an interview.’” My dad has to be careful with his schedule. He has three weeks left, and he has to spend his time as wisely as he can. I’m sure if he had time, he would do it. A lot of media outlets want us on. We have to be selective.
Contact M.D. Kittle at firstname.lastname@example.org