Romney turns on the ‘down-to-earth’ charm for Facebook town hall

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tried to show just how down to earth he can be in a Facebook town hall Monday. Standing in the Las Vegas convention center, in front of a group of campaign volunteers who seemed to be taking no notice, the 2012 presidential contender put on something like a ‘folksy’ charm. He wore a shirt but no tie, with the top button undone. When the camera first started going, he looked surprised, asking if he was on the air. He stood not quite in the center of the camera field.

Romney spoke off the cuff, reading questions submitted on Facebook, and addressing the questioners directly when he answered their questions (“Debbie, the best thing I can do for entrepreneurs in this country…”). He discussed debt, job creation, and energy.

But it appeared to be very much a show.

Romney stood in front of an American flag. The five questions he took did not touch on any of his trouble spots – health care or social issues — but on economics and energy, which gave him the opportunity to bill himself the businessman knows how to create jobs and spend within the country’s means.

He hit Obama for running the economy with a “European approach,” saying, “I believe in America.” He called for pro-business policies, like less regulation and lower taxes, as well as creating policies that would inspire other countries to invest in the U.S.

Romney touted the importance of energy independence in order to cut high gas prices, saying, “we have to be creating more of our energy resources ourselves,” and said that that meant all kinds of energy: oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear energy and renewable energy.

“Given your experience in business, state government, and the Olympics,” asked one participant, “what would you do if you were president to deal with the current national debt?”

“I’d cut federal spending,” Romney replied, and proceeded to explain that those cuts would come from entitlement reform and that all discretionary spending, except for defense, was “gonna have to be pulled way, way, way back.”

At the end, Romney asked people to donate to his exploratory committee and simply walked out of the camera’s view.