Political Capital with John Harwood

Mitt Romney Exposes His "Follicle" Cleavage


I took some grief a few months back for convicting Hillary Clinton, in this space and elsewhere, of calculation in the public display of cleavage that prompted a Washington Post fashion review and lots of talk in the blogosphere. I still think I was right.

But now she has Republican company in the Political Capital slammer. I am talking about Mitt Romney's deliberate display of follicle cleavage in last night's Republican debate.

Romney has drawn flak for excessive calculation throughout his campaign, most often in regard to issue flip-flops that have helped him travel the substantial distance from successful Massachusetts Republican candidate to plausible national candidate in the GOP presidential nomination fight. But last night he acted to address a different critique--the one that has pegged him as a Mr. Perfect Ken Doll with every hair slicked into place.

His answer was less lacquer and a strategic muss that left a single lock dangling down on his forehead.

No substantive change, mind you--Romney continued to display his eagerness not to offend on the issues, as when he shied away from Fred Thompson's bold proposal to curb Social Security benefits, except as it would apply to high income beneficiaries.

Will we see the new look again? Not clear. The mussed-up Romney uncharacteristically stumbled a couple of times early in the debate. And by the time it was over, the hair was back in place.

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