IF NEWT Gingrich is the GOP presidential candidate who runs against the press, rival Mitt Romney is the one who’d rather run away from it. The former Massachusetts governor has not appeared in a single Sunday news program in 20 months. On the campaign trail, he often avoids any back-and-forth with reporters. It’s a strategy typically employed by front-runners fearful of unscripted moments. But it can also backfire.
Romney put that strategy on full display in the aftermath of a recent Globe report that 11 Romney aides, including his chief of staff and chief legal counsel, bought hard drives off their state computers as they prepared to leave their jobs in 2006. As he left a luncheon in Manchester, N.H., last Friday, Romney tried to ignore reporters who peppered him with questions about the unprecedented purchases. Finally, after some prodding from WCVB-TV reporter Janet Wu - “No answers?’’ she asked, with the camera trained on him - the candidate replied, “They all followed the law exactly as it’s written.’’ Later that day, “Thanks, guys’’ was all reporters got as Romney was hustled into a waiting SUV.
The next night, Romney gave his first brief explanation during a five-minute Q-and-A session after a town hall meeting in Peterborough, N.H. He said his aides might have purchased the drives because “they may have personal information on there - medical records, resumes from people who have applied for jobs, judicial apppointments made, and people applying for those positions.’’ He also reiterated his contention that the aides broke no laws.
Republican primary voters deserve more give and take from a candidate who criticizes the Obama administration for a lack of transparency.