Late Night: Mitt Romney loosens up (a little) on ‘Tonight Show’

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On Tuesday, Mitt Romney made his 2012 debut on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.’ With the exception of the top 10 list he delivered on ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ in December, the Republican frontrunner has mostly avoided the late-night circuit during this campaign cycle.

For Romney, the appearance was an opportunity to counter the media caricature of him as a stiff, humorless automaton. And while it seems unlikely the candidate will be headlining at the Laugh Factory any time soon, he did show some signs of life.

The most vibrant part of the interview came when Leno brought up the subject of Romney’s theoretical vice-presidential pick. The host offered up names of contenders, and asked Romney for a one-word description. He summarized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as ‘indomitable,’ then scored a some laughs when he promised, ‘I’ll try for smaller words next time.’

He struggled more with the next name, Marco Rubio, initially describing him as ‘The American dream.’ Leno reminded Romney that he was limited to a one-word answer. Romney tried again, dropping the definite article, but was still over the word limit. Leno let it slide.


After offering up his assessments of ‘creative’ Paul Ryan and ‘energetic’ Nikki Haley, Romney was faced with the trickier task of summing up Donald Trump. While there are many words that come to mind at the mention of his name -– comb-over, long-form birth certificate, tan –- Romney’s description was slightly more cryptic: ‘Huge.’ It makes you wonder what word he chose to leave out -– ego? intellect? donor? The world may never know.

Last but not least, Leno asked for Romney’s description of his chief rival Rick Santorum, who’s currently embroiled in a minor controversy after cursing out a New York Times reporter. ‘Press secretary,’ Romney quipped.

He’s here all week, folks!


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-- Meredith Blake