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World & Nation

Romney loosens up on Letterman

Looking to soften his uptight image as he heads into the primary season, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wore his best poker face Monday night on CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” as he delivered the top 10 “things Mitt Romney would like to say to the American people.”

“What’s up, gangstas — it’s the M-I-Double-Tizzle,” the candidate deadpanned after taking the stage in New York.

Appearing in his campaign uniform —blazer and checked button shirt with no tie — the former Massachusetts governor took one shot at his chief rival: “Newt Gingrich? Really?” he asked.

And he made fun of his looks — “Isn’t it time for a president who looks like a 1970s game show host?” — as well as his coif: “It’s a hairpiece,” he said as he wrapped up the list.

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As in many previous presidential races, the late-night circuit has been a mainstay of the 2012 presidential race. In November, Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the Letterman show to try to stage a comeback, or at least a recovery, after he forgot the third federal department he planned to eliminate during a Republican debate.

In 2008, former Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama read dueling top 10 lists a week apart. Ticking off reasons why she loved America, Clinton extolled the virtues of American bacon and joked about her ability to order her trademark pantsuits “24/7.”

In a list of the top 10 “surprising facts about Barack Obama,” then-candidate Obama mocked his ineptitude at bowling and told the crowd that “throughout high school I was consistently voted ‘Barackiest.’ ”

Monday night, Romney joked about his new cologne — “It’s Mitt-stified” — and his formidable campaign treasury: “I just used all my campaign money to buy a zoo with Matt Damon,” he said, referring to a movie Damon stars in this year called “We Bought a Zoo.”

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And riffing on his claim that his business savvy has equipped him to turn the country around, he joked, “I can do a lot, but even I can’t fix the Indianapolis Colts,” a team that has won one game and lost 13 this season.

Romney appeared on Letterman in the midst of a major media blitz as he works to regain his front-runner position from Gingrich, the former House speaker. Romney made his first Sunday show appearance in nearly two years this weekend and was to appear Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Later in the day, he was to launch a bus tour of New Hampshire with his press corps in tow.

It was Romney’s third appearance on Letterman. In February, before announcing his candidacy, he read a top 10 list of “things you don’t know about Mitt Romney,” which included “Oprah is my half sister,” “I can’t begin my day until I’ve read the Washington Post and Kim Kardashian’s tweets” and “I’m the guy in the photo that comes with your picture frame.”

maeve.reston@latimes.com


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