Perhaps the one quality which gives Mitt Romney the most significant advantage over his challengers for the Republican nomination is his ability to stay on message and avoid taking the bait of liberal journalists and pundits. Look at how he reacted to former Clinton advisor George Stephanopolous’s question on contraception at the ABC/Yahoo!/WMUR New Hampshire debate:
George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were a governor of a state or…
. . . or a — or a legislature of a state — I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you’re asking — given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so, and I don’t know of any candidate that wants to do so, you’re asking could it constitutionally be done?
Romney goes on to call the moderator’s question “kind of a silly thing”. He doesn’t delve into the benefits (or lack thereof) of contraception. That’s not a president’s business.
“While GOP rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich,” Byron York reports, “have gotten sidetracked by contraception, Sandra Fluke, and other media obsessions of the moment, Romney has stuck close to his message on the economy and government spending.” The former Massachusetts governor makes clear his focus is “more jobs, less debt, and smaller government.”
He’s not just disciplined on policy issues, he’s also disciplined in his emotions. He remains calm under fire–as CBS News’s Rebecca Kaplan reported last month:
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on Friday deftly put down an aggressive attack by a few hostile members of a town hall audience, who challenged him repeatedly on issues ranging from his overseas investments to his support for hydrofracking.
It was a rare bit of rhetorical chaos at a Romney event, which are typically as subdued as the candidate tends to be. But the former Massachusetts governor defended himself in a calm and concise manner, winning thunderous applause from the audience of about 300 people at several points.
Emphasis added. H/t: Jennifer Rubin. He’s going to need that calm should he win the Republican nomination. Those aggressive attacks are only going to increase–and not just from Democrats and their ideological allies.