Dear Mitt Romney,
I like you. I really do. I have my problems with your policies, I hate your Massachusetts healthcare plan and I generally find you more moderate than I would like for our Republican candidate to be, but I actually think you're a very good man, a solid person, a serious candidate, and certainly the best of the current bunch. I voted for you in 2008 and will be voting for you again in 2012.
But here's the thing: you are doing some things very, very wrong and because I want the candidates I vote for to win, here is my pretty simple plan for what you need to change.
1) You're probably going to be the nominee. You were probably going to be the nominee all along. And even when you lost South Carolina and Minnesota and Colorado, you were still probably going to be the nominee. I understand that somewhere deep inside you, in the place you have to keep buried because you're in the public eye, you can't believe you're running against these clowns and that they're making it a race. I get it, I do. I mean, Rick Santorum? Seriously. Maybe it hurts you that so many people were looking for an un-Romney the whole time and now they're voting for these other guys just enough to be annoying.
But you've got to stop it with that air of inevitability you've been projecting. It's a fine line to walk to be confident yet not too confident. My suggestion is this: after every race you win, whether or not your opponents drop out or stay in or win a state here and there, make serious speeches. That'll show you're the candidate without you stooping to name-checking your opponents and patronizing them by saying they're running "nice races." I like that you often go after Obama, that's smart, but you should use the opportunity when all the cameras are on you to say serious things, things you will do when you are elected president.
Be specific. Be bold. Everyone thinks you don't stand for anything. Prove them wrong in your primary-night speeches. We're all listening- so say something already. I got this idea while listening to the liberal writer Wayne Barrett reminisce about Obama's post-primary speeches in 2008. I'm not saying you should start making farfetched promises to lower oceans, like Obama did to his dazzled crowds, but making substantial speeches can only help your end goal.
2) You're rich. We know you're rich, you know you're rich. You seem embarrassed that you were born rich. Don't be! We all wish we were born rich. There is no person born poor who wishes they weren't born rich--take it from someone born poor. It wasn't cool or glamorous. Tie your upbringing into the American dream because, newsflash, you're living it. We all want to give our children everything but we want them to strive and work hard, to do things on their own and to be successful. You did that! Don't let anyone shame you about your parent's wealth.
Americans do not hate rich people, no matter how much the Obama administration tries to make that so, we all want to be rich. Don't shy away from it. Also, practice the line "the president and I are both multi-millionaries" to throw around during the general election and tie it to the American dream. Santorum, Newt and Paul don't have your kind of money but to the average American Obama's 10 million is the same as your 200 million--outside the realm of possibility for most of us but darnit if we won't try to get there with you.
3) You take a lot of flak for being robotic and then you get criticized for not being your natural self. It's a little unfair because it does seem like your natural self is a little...robot-like. But that's ok, that's ok, no one is expecting you to cry or anything. What would be nice, though, is if you could share just a little about yourself. What's your favorite music? Do you stay up late at night refreshing Drudge Report (or Perez Hilton)? Do you have any cute weaknesses? Watch the Real Housewives, air-guitar to the Scorpions? Anything?
Everyone has something and I'd love to know what your something is. Key point, though: don't go invent something adorable to tell us about. We can smell fakeness. Just look at your life and share something goofy with us. I know it feels like you've been running for president forever, and that we know everything about you, but let me assure you we don't. You're not a robot so show us your human side. I hate that Obama uses every major sports game to get up in our faces but the fact is I don't doubt Obama is a sports fan. I think he's on ESPN.com right now hoping the Iran problem will just resolve itself. Give us a little something. We promise not to try to be your friend.
4) This is a hard one but it's necessary: learn to laugh at yourself. This actually ties in to a few of the other points. People want you to be yourself but who you are happens to be a rich guy and that makes you self-conscious which leads to you talking about multiple Cadillacs or how your friends own Nascar teams. Try to laugh these flubs off. One of George W. Bush's great strengths was his ability to poke fun at himself. He turned his verbal weaknesses into comedic strength.
You're a reserved guy and so some of my advice might be difficult for you to follow. You're in for a tough race, not the primary but the general against an incumbent who is willing to promise anything and play any role to get elected. If you spend this time laying down the foundation of seriousness, letting voters get to know you and generally relaxing a little bit, it'll go a long way. I'll be rooting for you.