There is a meme developing that Governor Romney is “too perfect” or “too businesslike.” It’s unsurprising, then, that yesterday, Jennifer Rubin wrote this (emphasis added):
While Rudy has been getting a lot of attention for his healthcare plan, Mitt Romney faced an outspoken woman in a New Hampshire diner demanding to know what he was going to do about her family’s health care. Despite his best businesslike response, she continued to interrupt and seemed entirely unmollified by his description of his Massachusetts plan.
I took away several things from the encounter (not counting the fact that the lady really wasn’t listening). Romney is very good under fire and has command of the facts, but he never engaged her on a personal level even while she was describing her family’s medical and financial woes. People in that diner are unlikely to remember the specifics of the Romney plan, but they will react either positively (“hey, he knows his stuff and kept cool”) or negatively (“hey, he didn’t even go up to the lady or say he was sorry about her kids’ medical problems”).
If you follow the link, you’ll see that Rubin based her post on a Washington Post account of the incident in New Hampshire. But not surprisingly, the Post didn’t tell the whole story. Look how differently Drew Cline of the New Hampshire Union Leader described it:
His biggest test came from Red Arrow waitress Michele Griffin. Visibly upset, she asked him several questions about how he would reform health insurance. She said she has three special-needs children and her husband works two jobs, one just to pay for their health insurance. Romney tried to explain how he’d changed the health insurance market in Massachusetts and what he would do in Washington, but Griffin kept interrupting him with more questions. Romney patiently answered them before she finally calmed down enough to let him move on to other questioners.
The best moment, though, came as Romney was leaving. Going out the back door, he saw Griffin in the kitchen. Instead of dodging her, he approached her and said she didn’t seem very happy earlier. She then opened up the floodgates, explaining in tears about her situation and how difficult it was for her family to afford their health care. He calmly listened and offered her reassurances before his aides drew him away.
Cline also has pictures.