I can think of a couple reasons why Mitt Romney chose to take questions from local TV reporters and KOA radio hosts yesterday, while blowing off all those “print” journalists in Denver.
The most obvious reason is that Romney thinks local TV news is watched by the swing voters he needs to win. This approach would be in line with what he did when he came to Colorado the day before the GOP caucus. Then, his target was Republican caucus goers. So Romney blew off all real-life journalists, TV and print, and took loving questions only from friendly, conservative talk-radio hosts, whose listeners were likely to be heading out to caucuses. So Romney got to talk directly to his target audience.
An alternative explanation for Romney’s local TV tour yesterday is that he was scared pesky print reporters would ask him tough questions while mayhem-and-fluff loving local TV news journalists would have one eye on the incoming rainstorm and therefore be unable and/or uninterested in asking him substantive questions.
If this was Team Romney’s thinking, they got it wrong. Denver’s local TV news didn’t suck up and ask softballs. They asked real questions about real issues in Colorado, including the most obvious question, given the drama in the State Legislature, about his view on civil unions.
CBS4 reporter Shaun Boyd introduced her piece by saying, “As you can see, Romney seemed a bit flustered by the questions viewers posted on our Facebook page, trying to steer the conversation back to topics he was comfortable with.”
I would say Romney was less flustered and more irritated with Boyd’s news judgment after she posed questions about civil unions (answer: no), college-tuition reductions for undocumented high school graduates (no), and medical marijuana (no).
Sounding like Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call who recently said birth-control issues were “small issues,” Romney told Boyd:
Romney: “Aren’t there issues of significance that you’d like to talk about?
Boyd: This is a significant issue in Colorado.
Romney: The economy. The economy. The economy. Jobs. The need to put people back to work. The challenges of Iran. We have enormous issues that we face, but you want to talk about, go ahead.”
Boyd picked up where she had left off, telling Romney matter-of-factly, “Marijuana.”
And Romney said, “I oppose the legalization of marijuana….”
Boyd, along with her counterparts at Fox 31, 9News, and 7News, all asked Romney serious questions, perhaps the kind he wasn’t expecting from local TV reporters.
I’m hoping the tough questioning continues through the election season because it’s informative and it makes interesting television, as opposed to happy-talk questions like, “Hey, how’s your dog.”
But I guess in Romney’s case, that would be considered a hardball query as well.