It has made the news shows around the country, but there is nothing more telling of the arrogance and the plain political ineptness of Mitt Romney and his campaign than the incident in South Carolina yesterday.
If you watch the video you will see a reporter get rather aggressive with Romney over Romney's slick way of presenting things. In this case it is about lobbyists not "running" his campaign, despite the fact one is a close adviser. Romney's rather uptight response was not all that bad. Sometimes it pays for a candidate to be a little aggressive back with a reporter.
But, his second exchange with the reporter was just plain politically dumb. The press event was essentially over. It was time for Romney to shake a few hands, all but ignore the press folks around him and leave.
To make matters worse, the campaign aide tells the reporter it is unprofessional to be argumentative with the candidate. Wow.
If the aide wants to be angry with someone it should be himself. The aide should have sensed his boss was ticked and positioned himself between the candidate and the reporter and sort of gently turned Romney and said something like, "Governor this is Mrs. Smith," and then get his candidate out of there.
Telling the reporter that being argumentative is unprofessional while the cameras were rolling, well, that is either ignorant or arrogant.
Romney is not running for city council, he is running for President of the United States. The press has a right to ask tough questions, and the candidate had better be ready to diffuse the aggressive reporter, not turn it up a notch. President Bush, as unpopular as he is and as inarticulate as he can be sometimes, has that skill. The President uses nicknames and references to humor to diffuse the press at times.
Romney and his folks had better learn fast that the President of the United States is going to get a lot more heat than some reporter talking about lobbyists. If Romney can not handle that guy better, how is going to handle Obama or Clinton in the fall? Or what about an aggressive Congressional or foreign leader?
It was not a Howard Dean scream moment, but it was telling.