Viewers of this past weekend's sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live" may have been surprised to see the opener introduce Mitt Romney's five sons. Although it was a spoof, it was no joke: The presidential candidate really does have five adult children.
But the good-looking, clean-cut mini-Mitts who had a starring role in their dad's 2008 campaign are way under the radar this time around. Until, of course, they got the recent "SNL" treatment.
The segment introduced the five look-alikes. And in reality, they seem to be. Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben, and Craig range in age from 31 to 41 and together have 16 children. (Although in the segment they get names like Tigger and Tic Tac -— who claims he's the rebel because he likes sugar.) Three went to Harvard Business School. All attended Brigham Young University (as did Mitt's wife, Ann).
The "SNL" skit did nothing to make the conservative family seem more like ordinary folks. The brothers, who seem to be more closely related to the aristocratic cartoon character Mr. Burns on "The Simpsons," are spoofed as dressing all the same and speaking as one saying, they're "just like regular America" because they like "Sport, cinema, and doo-wop."
In Romney's last campaign, the quintet helped out by driving a bus to campaign stops (dubbed the "Mitt Mobile") with the slogan "Five Brothers Bus" painted on the side. And the siblings contributed to a light-hearted blog, Five Brothers. This time around, the five have mostly stayed away at the request of papa Mitt, who doesn't want them to uproot their lives -- and the campaign made a strategic decision not to have too large an entourage.
Another reason: Romney isn't a new national figure the way he was in 2008, and doesn't need his sons to help tell his story. As Romney told ABC, "Things are a little leaner in America, and a campaign has to be a little wiser and leaner. So we're running a campaign with fewer people, and we won't be doing all the fancy stuff we did last time around."
Tagg Romney, the eldest son, still sends out the occasional campaign tweet and writes blog posts for the Romney campaign. On Saturday he joked about the "SNL" skit: "They got it wrong. I'm the rebel--the one who loves sugar."
The bros are not exactly rebellious, but that didn't stop the G-rated antics a few years back, which helped add some lightness to Mitt's campaign. Matt prank-called his dad right before the Michigan primary, posing as then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with a recorded clip from "Kindergarten Cop" barking out: "Who's your daddy?" Another time the boys short-sheeted dad's bed. Those crazy kids!
Josh, a real-estate developer, got some buzz when he considered jumping into Utah politics a few years back. Pundits figured he had a shot with the Romney name, the local education, and the Harvard MBA polish, just like dad. Matt and Craig both work in real estate, and Ben is completing his medical residency in Utah.
All five brothers are married. None have served in the military, an issue that hurt Romney during the last presidential campaign, because Papa Mitt supported the war in Iraq.
Even so, the five handsome brothers could add a note of fun to the serious candidate's campaign. Or at least, be the subject of fun.