Q&A: Gloria Borger on Her Upcoming Romney Special
CNN is kicking off its coverage of the convention with a profile of Mitt Romney called "Romney Revealed: Family, Faith, and the Road to Power." The documentary will air Sunday night at 8 p.m. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger , who hosts the special, reports on Romney's family life, previous runs for office and business experience. Borger took some questions from Hotline On Call on the feature. (Next week, we'll talk to CNN White House correspondent Jessica Yellin, who hosts a complementary documentary on President Obama: "Obama Revealed: The Man, The President.")
Q: These documentaries serve as the intros to the conventions. What should viewers come away with after watching the docs and watching the pageantry of the conventions?
A: The Romney documentary is really a biography. During the campaign, we often get buried in the daily rat-a-tat-tat; this is an effort to take a step back and try to find out who Mitt Romney really is. As a candidate, he's been very reluctant to tell his own personal story beyond politics. In this piece he does just that--and talks about his long political family history as well as his devotion to his Mormon faith, both very important parts of who he is today.
Q. Who surprised you most? Were there moments when you saw what the next four years of governing would look like?
A: A few surprising things. First, that Romney was so open about his years as a Mormon missionary in France after his first year in college. He spoke at some length about how those years made him look at himself--and his faith--and he changed as a result. Next, Ann Romney's genuine and compelling story of her MS, and how she and her family coped with--and still cope with--this disease. And Beth Myers, a Romney loyalist who rarely goes on camera, but who spoke with us in a very open way about her years working for Romney--both in the statehouse and in national politics.
Q. You interview several political opponents of Romney. Why were they chosen?
A: Every story of someone running for president is political, and that means there is opposition. And to tell the full story you have to have those voices. In the Romney story, there are voices from both sides of the political spectrum. From the Democrats, for instance, strategist Tad Devine, who was an aide to Ted Kennedy, helped make Bain an issue in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. We also sat down with Patrick Kennedy to get his personal perspective on that time. And from the right, one key voice is that of the editor of the conservative website RedState.com, Erick Erickson, who explains why conservatives remain skeptical of the Romney record.
Q. Obama and Romney have very close family relationships. Perhaps that is their commonality. What did you learn about their family life that you found fascinating that would impact decision making?
A: For Romney, his family and extended family--28 in all--is at the center of his life. His son, Tagg, talked about growing up in the Romney household and what it was like, telling stories about his father. It's hard to say how a family will specifically impact decision making, other than to say that families clearly provide support when it's needed. And, by the way, it was Tagg and Ann who thought he should run again in 2012.
Q. Finally, these documentaries are meant to help us understand the men being formally nominated. But network TV is cutting back on the coverage. Both men have been the nominee for months. Do the conventions matter? Why?
A: The conventions are over managed and over produced and often underwhelming as hard news events. But those of us who live and breathe politics every day often forget that millions of Americans don't. For them, the conventions are the place where the presidential candidates get to formally introduce themselves to a significant portion of the electorate.
They don't matter in the old-fashioned sense, when deals were cut and vice presidential picks were actually being made in real time. But when you watch, you will get a real sense of each of these men, what's important to them, and how they see the world.
In the end, presidential votes are very personal. And the conventions are a way to take a close look at the men who would be president.