Mitt Romney’s Indie Movie v. Tim Pawlenty’s Action Flick

Mar 8, 2011 10:46am

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports:

The top Republicans in the field of possible 2012 Presidential candidates don’t have platforms and websites, organizations and campaign events, which makes it is difficult to guage what kind of candidates they ultimately would be.

But these non-candidates do have web videos.

From the highly produced to the intentionally lo-fi, this genre of PAC-sponsored political communication  offers some hint inside the candidates operations.

Two stand out in recent days. One belongs in the Indie move category. The other feels more like an action flick.

The indie move belongs to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the action flick comes from former Minnesota Governor Tim Palwenty. Both show feature excerpts of a speech by the prospective candidates talking about their priorities – American greatness in both cases.

But their tone, production value and soundtrack could not be more different.

Romney’s video seems produced to look like a Youtube video produced by a voter instead of a slick production. Images of Romney are in a grainy home video hue and they are shot handheld and wobbly from seat level at a New Hampshire event – the title is “Behind the Scenes with Mitt Romney at the Carroll County Lincoln Day Dinner.” A happy guitar and piano duet plays in the background as Romney talks about the need for hope and laments that President Obama was unable, he says, to deliver on promises to bring it.

That message is reinforced by brief interviews with unnamed people looking directly at the camera. They don’t appear to dislike the current President. They’re more disappointed in him.

“I really think that’s going to be the role of the next President of the United States is to restore hope in America. I know Obama ran on hope, but he has done nothing for hope,” says one young woman.

Romney’s video attempts to be hopeful without being angry. It emphasizes jobs and the economy – people needing to pay their bills and send their kids to college.

“I believe the American experiment worked,” says Romney in the video. “Those people who are looking to Europe are looking the wrong way. Look back here. America has the answers for America’s challenges in the modern world.

While Romney tries to seem authentic,  former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s wants to be noticed with his new video. It is fist-pumping and intense with organ and orchestra music. His video is aimed not at people disappointed in Obama, but people downright angry at him – the Tea Party. 

Pawlenty complements the Tea Party and while he speaks, ominous organ music plays. The video is full of aerial shots over sunsets and high-quality images from Tea Party protests in Washington. It ends with frootage from a Pawlenty speech at a Tea Party conference in Arizona, where he talks about taking the country back. It is combative and angry. The music intensifies with a string section when Palwenty talked about the need to reclaim America.

“We the people of the United States will rise up again,” he declares. “We will take back our government. This is our country. Our founding fathers created it, Ronald Reagan personified it, and Lincoln stood courageously to protect it,” he rails.

The difference between the video is clear: Romney, who made millions as an investment banker and is the scion of a political family, has to appear relatable to Republican voters while at the same time fighting the perception that he was too moderate as the governor of blue Massachusetts. He is, after all, the Republican who signed into law health care legislation on which Democrats modeled the new national health reform law.

Pawlenty too was the governor of a relatively blue state. But he is the son of a blue-collar truck driver. And while there is a perception of him as a moderate governor, his pointed attacks of President Obama show him to be angling to the right of the GOP field.

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