Obama, Romney use humor into connect with voters

By Ken Thomas

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

The former Massachusetts governor occasionally surprises audiences with some "he said what?" moments. During a recent taping of ABC's "Live with Kelly and Michael," Romney held hands with his wife, Ann, and traded stories that don't usually come up in the world of heavily scripted modern presidential campaigns.

Ann Romney, who raised five sons with her husband, repeated a story she typically tells about how, after the 2008 campaign, she told Romney she never wanted him to run for president again. Romney said his response was: "You know, Ann, you say that after every pregnancy!"

But the interview got even more revealing. Mrs. Romney talked about a visit to the White House with Texas first lady Anita Perry that led to them opening a door and finding President George W. Bush in the middle of a massage. Bush later told an embarrassed Mrs. Romney, "I look pretty good, don't I?"

The fun continued when former New York Giants lineman Michael Strahan asked Mrs. Romney, "What does Mitt wear to bed?" prompting her husband to pipe in and say, "I hear the best answer is as little as possible."

Some comedians and satirists say the campaigns could benefit from more light moments. Actor and stand-up comedian Gilbert Gottfried said in an interview that, from his vantage point, the campaign trail humor has been "almost as bad as the banter that goes on with presenters at awards' shows."

Gottfried said he remembered being struck by how Republican Bob Dole showed his sense of humor in commercials and television appearances after his losing 1996 campaign — and how it could have helped him during the campaign.

"I remember watching him, thinking had he done that before, he may have won the election," Gottfried said. "Because during the election he came across as the grumpy old man who is chasing you away from his lawn."

Will Durst, a political satirist, said a sense of humor can serve as a humanizing element for presidential contenders. He suggested Romney could benefit from making light of some of his so-called "gaffes," offering a line such as: "The campaign is so busy right now my wife is driving both Cadillacs."

"Humor is cathartic. It's very important to us as American people and to our leaders," Durst said. "When we see them enjoying it, I think it gives them hope."

Follow Ken Thomas at http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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