LAS VEGAS (CAP) - He walks with a purpose, a certain gait that says he's been here before, he knows these street corners, he knows the promise they once held. But his demeanor displays no such promise, his slumped shoulders merely an empty shell of the arrogant man who once held Las Vegas in the palm of his hand. Mitt Romney turns to address the small group of reporters who have accompanied him on this excursion.
"I was just a skinny lad," Romney says as he stares through us reporters to a time long ago. "I never knew no good from bad. But that big woman - she made a bad boy out of me."
The tour continues, with the former Massachusetts governor pointing out old haunts and recounting women who used to call the Strip home. "They were classy yet voracious - could rock your world with just a simple button-down shirt," Romney tosses out there to no one in particular. "Not like these skanks who can't even wear a tube top or pencil skirt right.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we need to put the sex back in Las Vegas," Romney adds, shoulders inflating ever so slightly. "I don't know where we lost it, but we need to get it back. Mark my words: we will get it back."
Although he has not formally announced his Oval Office intentions, the Mitt Romney who walks this path differs greatly from the man who sought the Republican nomination four years ago. Gone are the Magic Underpants Coalition and photo-op of him trick-or-treating as Harry Potter, replaced instead by a right-wing secular attitude unmatched on any GOP ticket since Jack Kemp hoarded pens for Bob Dole to hold in 1996.
"Mitt knows the whole Mormon thing isn't going to fly this time around," said CAP News political analyst Fuad Reveiz. "He's getting out of the Mitt Mobile and walking the streets with real Americans - Americans who drink and smoke and have sex with their neighbor's hot wife.
"So when he names Charlie Sheen one of his key campaign advisors, you'll understand why," noted Reveiz.
Reviez and other political experts say campaign contributions will be key to Romney's success in 2012 as he learns a whole new set of mores and surrounds himself with people who are well versed in many walks of life. Pundits generally agree that in 2012, shaking hands and kissing babies will be replaced with shaking money makers and kissing ass.
"Like the rest of us, Mitt is quite familiar with gays in captivity - the ones we see portrayed on TV and in movies," said Romney advisor Lanhee Chen. "But his exposure to gays in the wild has been limited, so we're teaching him how to react and interact should one approach without warning or provocation.
"Our goal is to avoid another situation like that scene in MTV's Real World: Ex-Presidential Candidates when he warned Dennis Kucinich about becoming infected with the gays," added Chen.
Although it's too early to tell whether Romney can overcome the steep learning curve to manufacture any long-term success with Main Street America, critics say he's already leaps and bounds ahead of his early GOP rivals, who are mired in trying to determine whether to travel to campaign stops by private jet or come in via helicopter.
"Yep, we're also teaching him how to drive a standard," said Chen. "Because this summer we'll be launching Romney's Four On The Floor Cross-Country Tour. Wait'll you see him change his own oil."
- CAP News Staff