political notebook

Romneys game for a revealing interview

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, during a lighthearted exchange with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on Friday.
Lorenzo Bevilaqua/reuters
Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, during a lighthearted exchange with Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on Friday.

NEW YORK — Who would Mitt Romney like to see play him in a movie? (Gene Hackman.)

What is Romney’s guilty pleasure? (Peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk.)

And what exactly, does the Republican presidential hopeful wear to bed?


‘‘Really? Really?’’ Romney said during an interview Friday on ABC’s ‘‘Live! With Kelly and Michael.’’ “I think the best answer is as little as possible.’’

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Romney held hands with his wife, Ann, during a lighthearted interview that delved into topics rarely found on the Sunday talk show circuit and gave the Republican nominee a chance to show his knowledge of pop culture. Like whether he knew much about MTV’s ‘‘Jersey Shore’’ star Nicole ‘‘Snooki’’ Polizzi.

‘‘I’m kind of a Snooki fan,’’ Romney confessed. ‘‘Look how tiny’s she’s gotten. She’s lost weight. She’s energetic. Just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun.’’

The Romneys sat down with hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan in an interview scheduled to air next Tuesday that covered more typical topics: Romney’s plans for reducing unemployment and jumpstarting the economy along with his positions on gun control and health care.

Asked to name something the nation doesn’t know about the presidential candidate, Ann Romney said, ‘‘He’s got a good heart, and I don’t think people know that about him.’’


But the chat took a fun-loving turn when Ripa and Strahan decided the Romneys should participate in a special ‘‘Romney Rapid Fire Round.’’ “If you think a political debate is tough, just buckle up,’’ Ripa warned.

The questions got pretty personal.

Asked about a ‘‘guilty pleasure,’’ Romney admitted to peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk, while Ann Romney confessed to enjoying doughnuts.

When the questions turned to who would play Mitt in a movie, Romney said he’d like to see his ‘‘favorite actor,’’ Gene Hackman, in the role. Romney cited Hackman’s work in ‘‘The Birdcage,’’ where he plays Kevin Keeley, a conservative senator from Ohio whose daughter wants to marry the son of a gay couple. For the role of Ann Romney, the Republican suggested actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

If they could have dinner with anyone, Romney named Nelson Mandela, calling the former South African leader ‘‘a world hero.’’ Mrs. Romney said she would have liked to have had dinner with Mother Teresa.


Ann Romney recounted a visit to the White House a few years ago, when she accidentally opened a door to find President George W. Bush in the middle of a massage.

‘‘He was covered up but I was so embarrassed,’’ Mrs. Romney said. She saw the president later in the day, and he helped defuse any awkward feelings. ‘‘He looks at me and winks, ‘I look pretty good,’ ’’ she said.

Strahan asked Romney to name his favorite football team, and the former Massachusetts governor was ready: ‘‘Sorry about that Mr. Giants,’’ Romney told Strahan, a former lineman for the New York Giants. ‘‘But for me it’s the New England Patriots.’’

Both Romneys prefer ­iPhones to Blackberries, and Mrs. Romney finds it hard to keep up with the Kardashians.

The former Massachusetts governor is a fan of ABC’s ‘‘Modern Family,’’ a pleasure shared by Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha.


Romney defines middle income as up to $200,000-$250,000

BOSTON — Mitt Romney is promising to reduce taxes on middle-income Americans.

But how does he define ‘middle income? The Republican presidential nominee defined it Friday as income of $200,000 to $250,000 a year and less.

The definition of ‘‘middle income’’ or the ‘‘middle class’’ is politically charged as Romney and President Obama fight to win over working-class voters.

Romney would be among the wealthiest presidents, if elected, and Democrats have repeatedly painted him as out of touch with average people.

Obama also has set his definition for ‘‘middle class’’ as families with income of up to $250,000 a year.

Romney’s comments came an interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America.’’

‘‘No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is [to] keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,’’ Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.

‘‘Is $100,000 middle income?’’ Stephanopoulos asked.

‘‘No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,’’ Romney responded.

His campaign later clarified that Romney was referencing household income, not individual income.

The Census Bureau reported this week that the median household income — the midpoint for the nation — is just over $50,000.

Obama wants to extend Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than $250,000, while Romney wants to extend the tax cuts for everyone.

Romney has not explained how he would keep his plan from growing the nation’s deficit.


Ryan hits Obama on foreign policy, health law’s contraception mandate

WASHINGTON — Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan delivered his most stern rebuke yet of President Obama’s foreign policy Friday, telling an annual conference of social conservatives that the Obama administration gave mixed signals in response to this week’s attacks on US diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya and that the president has alienated America from its allies in the Middle East.

‘‘Look across that region today and what do we see?’’ Ryan asked at the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit. ‘‘The slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria. Mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran, four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.’’

He told the crowd that ‘‘amid all these threats and dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership.’’

In addition to sharpening his criticism of Obama on foreign policy, Ryan also took aim at the administration for the contraception mandate under the national health care law, making note of his Catholic faith and echoing GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in framing the mandate as an attack on religious liberty.

‘‘Ladies and gentlemen, you would be hard pressed to find another group in America that does more to serve the health of women and their babies than the Catholic Church and Catholic charities,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘And now, suddenly, we have Obamacare bureaucrats presuming to dictate how they will do it. As governor Romney has said, this mandate is not a threat and insult to one religious group — it is a threat and insult to every religious group.’’