The whole Romney family are social media naturals — so why can't they connect? Is it all one big Mormon mommy blog?
Mitt and Ann Romney, in a photo posted to Mary Romney's family blog.
Has anyone ever shared more, and yet shared less, than the Romney family?
Mitt Romney and his sons rarely get the credit they deserve for their fluency with new media: The five brothers maintained a blog in the old bloggy years of 2008. Three of them have Twitter feeds for the Social Web of 2012. One daughter-in-law, Mary Romney, even maintains a well-kept mommy blog, studded with images of a loose candidate, mussed hair and all, while her husband, Craig, blogged his way across the country in the summer of 2009. It's the sort of humanizing touch that makes new media operatives beam with pride.
"If they're smart and know what to say, and they seem to, it's a good way to instantly shape perceptions of their dad," said Patrick Ruffini, a leading Republican digital strategist.
And yet for their constant sharing, the Romneys are frustratingly inaccessible. The candidate continues to struggle for the emotional connections that would rally voters and bring in small contributions over the Internet. His family faces the constant, absurd criticism that it's too attractive, too perfect.
Romney's skill at projecting a Christmas-card perfection, and his difficulty in breaking out of it, are qualities rooted in the religious culture that has shaped so much of the family's character. Mormon mothers like Mary Romney, for instance, have grown famous for the quality of their "mommy blogs," which stand out among a sea of similar sites for their design, attention to detail, and glowing portrayal of family life.
"A lot of times, the criticism that comes to Mormon blogs is that they are too unrealistic," said Courtney Kendrick, a Mormon mommy blog pioneer. "I think what we're thinking is that our whole dogma is called the Plan of Happiness, and our blogs kind of reflect that drive and appeal to happiness."
Mary Romney's blog, Kendrick said, is a "very typical" example of the genre. Titled "Me & My Boys," it has apparently been open to public view for years, drawing occasional interest from the political class. The blog was made private shortly after BuzzFeed asked the campaign about it, and about the Romney family's social media presence in general.
Romney's blog is of a kind with her generation's happy hipster aesthetic, sharing with other Mormon mommy blogs a colorful, flowery blend of vintage lettering and cupcake photos that call to mind Zooey Deschanel — if she were a churchgoing mother of three.