As the only two candidates who have any chabnce of winning the 2012 presidential election get ready to face off tonight for the first of three debates this month, the pressure is on Mitt Romney to score a victory or something that will vault him past President Obama in the polls, which show him trailing, albeit by a narrow margin.
One source of discontent among voters--regardless of their preferred candidate--when it comes to Romney has to do with his persona. More specifically, his affect. (If you don't know someone personally, then you can't really know their personality, so when voters talk about how they view the candidates personally, most of them are really just going off of what they've observed.) Mitt is "a bit of a stiff," "distant", "dull," "wooden," "remote," "insensitive" and "cold", according to any number of pundits, commentators and media gadflies. This has made it difficult for him to "connect" with voters, people say, asnd ha led to some noticeably awkward moments on the campaign trail.
Yet, while a lack of emotion may not be conducive to politicking, it is this steel temperament that may serve Mitt Romney well as he debates a president who has shown that nothing is off-limits, no blow is too low as he fights to stay in power. With President Obama a stone's throw away, inveighing against him on all manner of topics, Mitt Romney will keep a stiff upper lip, matching Obama's calumny with calm.
Throughout his time in office, President Obama has proven himself to be very vindictive, petty and thin-skinned, and as anyone at FOX News can tell you, it's not difficult to get under that skin. In the era of televised presidential debates, the slightest sign of exasperation can do irreparable damage to a candidate. (Who can forget Al Gore's repeated sighing in his first debate with Geroge W. Bush or the first President Bush looking at his watch during the second debate in 1992?) Unlike Obama, Romney is not likely to get rattled by an opponent's vituperative rhetoric. Of course, there are times were a candidate can appear too vapid. (Paging Mike Dukakis.)