May 13, 2007

For all the palaver about John Edwards’ appearance, haircuts, and Breck-Girl qualities, at least he isn’t distributing items at his campaign appearances about his “sensational good looks.”

But Mitt Romney is. One of Garance Franke-Ruta’s Republican sources in Iowa picked up a jaw-dropping flyer at a Romney campaign event late last week.

His promotional flyer says, “In this media-driven age, Romney begins with a decisive advantage. First, he has sensational good looks. People magazine named him one of the 50 most beautiful people in America. Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Romney has jet-black hair, graying naturally at the temples. Women — who will play a critical role in this coming election — have a word for him: hot.”

Now, it’s worth noting that this flyer about Romney’s appearance wasn't written by his campaign team, but Team Romney is distributing it at campaign rallies. In other words, the campaign is proud enough of this fluff that they want Iowans to see it.

In 2004, People magazine named John Edwards one of the 50 most beautiful people in America — and Edwards was embarrassed about it. When reporters would bring it up, he’d laugh it off and quickly change the subject. The whole issue was silly and unworthy of a serious presidential candidate’s time and attention. But for the former Massachusetts governor, apparently it's not.

For Team Romney to promote materials that effectively say, “Vote for Romney; he’s pretty” is to get the broader political dynamic backwards. Men are likely to find the pitch weak, women are equally likely to find the pitch arrogant, and serious voters who care about the issues will wonder what on earth the campaign was thinking promoting fluff like this.

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