Campaigning in the era of YouTube: Mitt Romney

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 11:58 a.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks at National Gypsum Company in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.

Associated Press

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For Mitt Romney, YouTube offers a mix of past statements that may come back to haunt him as the 2012 campaign slogs forward, as well as personal glimpses into a candidate often criticized as being robotic or stiff.

Like most candidates this year, Romney's intentions to run for president made an early appearance on Twitter and YouTube, with a video announcing the formation of his presidential exploratory committee. The official campaign announcement came a few months later.

During this 2012 run, Romney's campaign — which has been criticized as being bland and generic — has dealt with gaffes and attacks from other candidates.

After former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney challenged Rick Perry to accept a $10,000 bet during a debate, the Christian Science Monitor asked, "Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet: Will he survive it?" One video of the clip has been viewed 330,000 times.

While speaking at the Iowa State Fair, Romney answered a question, saying that "Corporations are people, my friend." He went on to say, "Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people."

More recently, Romney said he likes being able to "fire people" who don't provide adequate business services. Jon Huntsman Jr., Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry jumped on the remark, taking it out of context. Ron Paul defended Romney's statement during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

In an example of new media playing a role in political arguments, after current presidential candidate Newt Gingrich criticized Mitt Romney's time working at Bain Capital, Romney responded by sending out a YouTube clip — a 2010 clip showing Gingrich praising Romney's business experience.

From clips of Romney arguing with a reporter at a campaign appearance, to being interviewed by an awkward teen or pretending to be goosed by a waitress, YouTube offers a plethora of Romney videos from the campaign trail, both from the current campaign and past campaigns.

In a December Politico story, Reid Epstein chronicles Romney's humanization efforts. "Meet Mitt Romney, human," the story states. Videos featuring Romney's family may help counter the robotic comparisons.

Romney's experience with the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics shows up on video sharing sites, with critics and fans weighing in on his performance as the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. One video features Romney speaking French, which he learned as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Along with the criticisms of being robotic, Romney is also frequently criticized as a flip-flopper. Video sharing sites make it easy to find these policy and opinion shifts that Romney will undoubtedly have to address in greater detail as the campaign continues.

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