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Mitt Romney on Romneycare, the Beatles and vampires

May 31, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
(NBC News )

As he prepares to formally announce his presidential bid, Mitt Romney estimates his chances at beating President Obama at better than 50-50.

He also likes vampire books. But vampires? Not so much.

These were two items culled from a Tuesday morning interview of Romney on NBC’s "Today" show, one that appeared intended to introduce America to Romney the human being.

The fact that Romney’s campaign feels the need to remind voters that, yes, Mitt Romney sometimes swears (using words that can be printed in a family newspaper), or that his hair gets mussed, or that he too watches “American Idol” (no word on “Glee”) underscores some of the challenges the early-line front-runner faces.

In short, Republicans right now seem more likely to support Romney because they think he’s the best candidate to defeat Obama next year, not because they feel any sort of pulse-quickening connection to him. In that sense, he comes off as similar to another presidential hopeful from Massachusetts -- John Kerry.

To that end, the interview on “Today” showed Romney at his summer home in New Hampshire, the early primary state in which he will make public his presidential plans Thursday, playing with grandkids, walking with his wife, Ann, and driving a tractor -- while wearing jeans, no less.

Romney said he’s not worried about his Mormon faith alienating evangelicals ("We’re not electing a pastor in chief"), said he likes the animated show “South Park,” and said the last book he read was “Rule of Nine”—a potboiler that Booklist describes as a “solid, if perhaps slightly too intricate," legal thriller.

Music-wise, he favors '60s and '70s rock. "The Beatles -- I mean, the Beatles were phenomenal," he said.

He also likes “silly stuff,” he said, including the “Twilight” series, although he hastened to add that, “I don’t like vampires, personally.”

This was a joke -- probably. “He’s really very funny,” said Ann Romney.

“Most of the time his hair is really messed up,” she added later.

Toggling into candidate mode, Romney continued to defend his Massachusetts healthcare plan, saying that distancing himself from it wouldn’t be “honest.”

“What we did was to solve a very serious need that existed in our state,” he said, pledging that he would work to repeal the Democratic healthcare law, if elected.

Romney also gave Obama an “F” in his handling of economic policy.

“It’s failed,” he said.

   

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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