Mitt Romney: 2012 launch lacks spice

Mitt Romney with wife AnnImage source, AP
Image caption,
Romney dished out his wife's chilli

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney launched his 2012 bid down on the farm with a free lunch, says Mark Mardell.

Lines of supporters queued in front of the trestle tables with signs saying "Mrs Romney's famous chilli - free".

You know election season has started in earnest when there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Mostly the food was dolled out by helpers in "I believe in America" T-shirts but Mrs Romney's slightly famous husband took his turn, explaining it was a family recipe featuring lots of chopped peppers.

It was all very folksy.

One of Mitt Romney's problems is that while he looks like Hollywood's idea of a president, he's a bit stiff, not exactly a man of the people.

Image caption,
The campaign launch was a family affair

This event had a hometown feel, like a church picnic, and I presume designed to make Mr Romney look a little less like a politician. He spoke to the crowd surrounded by hay bales with the occasional tractor lurking in the back ground.

Whatever the props, the Republicans' best hope of beating Obama is if the economy still looks fragile or gets worse.

Mitt Romney hit this head on. He said Obama had failed America and the country was in crisis, in peril, inches away from ceasing to be a free economy.

He took several side swipes at Europe, saying that Obama took his inspiration not from the towns of New Hampshire but the capitals of Europe.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Hay bales make good props

He said unlike Europe, America did not have dynasties, before extolling his father, who was also a state governor and also ran for the Republican presidential nomination.

He got the biggest cheer for promising to abolish "Obamacare" while skirting over rather rapidly what he introduced as governor.

I had gone to the event with the impression that Mitt Romney was on the dull side, but with an open mind. After all, I had never seen him in the flesh.

The worthy speech lit no touch paper and his genial walkabout didn't persuade me either.

That doesn't of course mean he would be a bad president, but it doesn't bode well for a bruising election campaign.

As for his wife's chilli, it was unusual, fresh and spicy. The same can't be said for her husband.