As Mitt Romney tries to close the gap with John McCain before the voting on Super Duper Tuesday, reporter Michael Luo took an unsympathetic look at Romney's latest political makeover in Tuesday's "Meet the New Mitt Romney, The Anti-Insider Populist."
Mitt Romney is leading a citizen revolution, or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days as he has tries to right his bid for the Republican nomination.
It may seem an unlikely role for a PowerPoint-loving, buttoned-down multimillionaire, but there Mr. Romney was, on stage Monday here in his starched white shirt and tie, raising his voice to be heard above the crowd and portraying himself as the anti-establishment insurgent.
This marks the fourth instance the Times has emphasized that Romney, who has assets of $350 million, is a "multimillionaire" But with assets of $30 million, Democratic left-wing candidate John Edwards wasn't exactly in the poorhouse either. Yet a Nexis search indicates Edwards was never tarred with the patrician phrase "multimillionaire" during his failed campaign for president.
Unflattering phrases about Romney abound:
That Mr. Romney, the one-time leveraged-buyout artist who has spent more than $35 million of his personal fortune on his campaign, is now running as a populist insurgent may come as a surprise to some. But he has been through a variety of iterations of his message over the last year, donning at various points the image of a pragmatic problem-solving businessman, conservative ideologue and change agent.
It was in New Hampshire that he settled on a theme about Washington's being broken and his ability to bring change.
But with Mr. McCain now threatening to run away with the nomination, Mr. Romney has melded the old with the new, lobbing conservative grenades once again while talking about change. His latest script is calculated to sound the alarm over the prospect of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee.
"In our party right now, there's a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," he said, addressing an enthusiastic audience on Sunday at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a rock-ribbed Republican suburb of Chicago. "Which way are we going to go? Are we going to take a sharp left turn in our party, get as close as we can to Hillary Clinton, without being Hillary Clinton?"
There was a time, after he received some pushback from Mr. McCain for labeling the recent failed immigration overhaul in the Senate "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, that Mr. Romney was careful to say that it constituted a "form of amnesty."
Gone is that subtlety. Instead, on Monday in Nashville, as some tucked into chocolate chip pancakes, he bellowed, "Do you want a nominee who helped write McCain-Kennedy that gave amnesty to illegal immigrants?"
A man shouted, "No way!"
Conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have thrown their support behind him or sharply criticized Mr. McCain, something that Mr. Romney now regularly cites.
Their influence, he said, helped lead him to victory in the Maine caucuses over the weekend.
And the darts he hurls at Mr. McCain can feel a bit esoteric, like when he talks of oil drilling in Alaska: "Do you want to have as our nominee a person who voted to say no to drilling for oil in ANWR?"
Actually, it's a pretty familiar issue in conservative circles.