Mitt Romney, Media Exchange Verbal Blows

Kenneth T. Walsh

Mitt Romney's distance from the news media is coming back to bite him.

The Republican presidential candidate has done relatively few interviews and holds few news conferences, preferring to communicate to voters via speeches, debates, and paid advertisements. This has prompted reporters to besiege him when they can. It happened Tuesday in Tampa, when traveling journalists peppered Romney with questions and asked why he was avoiding them. They didn't get much of an answer, and it wasn't a pleasant moment for Romney.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney]

The result of his aloofness is that when he does give access to journalists, he is scrutinized very carefully, and, it turns out, harshly.

That's what's happening in the wake of Romney's interview Tuesday night with Bret Baier on Fox News. He seemed defensive, impatient, and annoyed at times. "Bret, I don't know how many hundred times I've said this," Romney complained at one point when asked about his shifting stances on some issues. The candidate laughed awkwardly and added, "This is an unusual interview."

His critics ridiculed his performance.

An official at the Democratic National Committee said the debate was "disastrous."

[Read about why Romney supporters think he should forget about his GOP rivals and focus on Obama.]

This latter comment has to be taken with a grain of salt because the DNC has made Romney a special target since he is widely expected to be the Republican presidential nominee next year. As a result, the DNC attacks just about everything Romney does. But his performance in the interview certainly wasn't one of his best.

Afterward, Baier said Romney complained to him that some of the questions, including interrogations on health care and his flip-flops, were "overly aggressive" and "uncalled for."

One answer for Romney may be counter-intuitive--to actually hold more interviews and news conferences. Then the novelty of getting access to Romney will wear off and he probably will catch a break. That's usually the way these things work with the mainstream media.

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--See a collection of political cartoons on the GOP hopefuls.