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See Romney Run

As the presidential primary race heads into the post-Labor Day home stretch toward the first contests in January, Mitt Romney is turning to what his campaign sees as his strongest suit: his record as a executive who turned around failing companies and a struggling Olympics and offered conservative leadership in a liberal state. And to do that, the campaign is putting Romney on the trail -- literally. In a new television ad that goes up this weekend in Iowa and New Hampshire, a sweaty Romney is shown jogging along leafy roads as an announcer intones, "At every step, he's met extraordinary challenges," and goes on to say that Romney has "the energy and experience" to turn around Washington.

The choice of image is an interesting one, and not only because Romney's camera-ready good looks give it some resemblance to commercials for various hygiene and health products targeted at middle-aged men. Presenting Romney as runner also recalls one of the more memorable moments of the candidate's youth growing up in Michigan, where his father was an auto executive and governor and where Romney attended the elite Cranbrook prep school.

As the Boston Globe reported in its seven-part series on Romney earlier this year, Romney as teen was more gawky than jocky, and his jogging was not always something he'd want captured on tape:
"Mitt's singular distinction as an athlete was an embarrassing one, classmates recall. He competed in a 2.5-mile race held during a football game, setting off with the rest of the runners at the start of halftime. Everyone returned before the second half of the football game began, except Mitt. He didn't resurface until about 10 minutes after the last runner. He staggered around the oval for the final lap, collapsing twice in the last 15 yards but drawing cheers from the crowd when he finally crossed the finish line. "It had to be one of those moments that made you feel good, but inadequate," [classmate Jim] Bailey says. "But those kinds of things didn't bother him."

Obviously, they didn't. Today, Romney is a multimillionaire, has a plausible shot at the Republican nomination, and lists jogging as his favorite activity. And if things don't work out on the campaign trail, he might just want to get ready for some phone calls from RightGuard.

--Alec MacGillis

By Washington Post editors  |  August 30, 2007; 4:04 PM ET
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To me this ad is quite impressive. It makes Mitt look young and energetic - something McCain, Thompson, & Giuliani can't compete against. Plus, at a time when Democrats and Republicans are competing head to head, I like the idea of someone that can bring the two together. Romney's health care program in Mass is the perfect example of compromise on each party's front. Each gave some and each gained some. We are so torn as a country and I really think Mitt could pull us together.

Posted by: omeulixo | August 31, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What a ridiculous comment jdadson. Could it be that the You Tube debate is a bunk, nonsense platform that no presidential candidate should participate in? I guarantee, the other candidates should be holding their breath that Romney doesn't show up to the debate. He has won virtually every debate where he has gone head-to-head with the other candidates.
As far as the Texas straw poll, its new. These things take time, and a last minute organization of such an event would prompt some wariness from any campaign.

Posted by: brymonson | August 30, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a suggestion for an alternate title: See Romney Turn Tail. He has yet to agree to participate in the CNN/YouTube debate, although they re-scheduled it to accommodate him. Now he, along with most of the other Republican candidates, have decided not to show up at the first-ever Texas Straw Poll. There is something special about this one. There can be no claim that the winner has merely recruited from a small band of zealous followers, because every voter will be a recent Republican delegate. That's the rule.

Well Mitt, you can run but you can't hide. Your name, along with all the others, will be on the ballot whether you show up or not.

Posted by: jdadson | August 30, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

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