BELMONT, MA—While he is widely favored to win the Republican nomination for president next year, Mitt Romney told reporters Monday that deep down, what he truly wants is to actually establish a real, authentic connection with at least one voter before his campaign ends.
The anguished former Massachusetts governor, who conceded many in his party will recognize him as their most electable candidate and vote for him only by default, said victory in the primaries will mean nothing to him if he remains incapable of energizing a single member of the American electorate.
"I'm getting a lot of support just by virtue of being the Republican in the race most likely to beat Obama, and that's good, I guess," Romney said. "But I suppose I was hoping for a stronger, more emotional reaction from people. When this whole thing is over, all I really want is for one person to truly, earnestly believe in me—to look me in the eye as if to say, 'I'm with you, Mitt. You are great, and I am excited about you as a person and as a leader.'"
"There's got to be at least one, single individual out there who really, really wants me to be president, right?" he added. "Right?"
Romney, an unsuccessful candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination, said that in recent months his town hall appearances and campaign rallies have served as constant distressing reminders of his inability to spark genuine enthusiasm among voters or form any kind of meaningful bond whatsoever.
"Sure, some people cheer and wave signs, but it all seems so mechanical, like they're just going through the motions," Romney said. "Have you ever seen anyone at a Mitt Romney rally with tears streaming down their face? No, of course not. Has anyone ever spontaneously started a spirited 'Mitt, Mitt, Mitt' chant that I could spend a solid minute basking in before finally beginning my speech? No way. In fact, it's hard to even imagine it. Why is that? What am I doing wrong? I mean, I say inspirational stuff, don't I?"
"I'm not asking for people to faint or go into hysterics or anything, but would it be too much for just one person to respond intensely and personally to who I am and what I stand for?" continued Romney, adding that he would even be thrilled to have a voter shout at him in anger, because then he would at least be able to say he had actually moved someone. "Frankly, I don't even care who it is—an elderly woman, a child, a mentally-ill person who just happens to be wandering through the rally. I am wide-open here."
Sources confirmed Romney has directed his staff to conduct a nationwide door-to-door search to find at least one individual excited by his bid for the presidency, a massive undertaking he initiated upon realizing his own aides and volunteer workers had only joined his campaign after failing to find a more inspiring candidate to rally around.
For his part, the presidential hopeful said he was making a concerted effort to maximize the potential for a meaningful moment in all public appearances.
"Now, when I give a speech, I make eye- contact with just one person the whole time, trying to convince them I understand and share their hopes and their fears," said Romney, who has reportedly asked that his speechwriters redouble their efforts to craft soaring turns of phrase and convincing words of empathy. "I hold all my handshakes a little longer, squeeze them a little tighter. I'm even saluting little kids. If one of them ever salutes me back, I'm counting it as a deep, heartfelt connection."
"Still, I can't say I blame anyone," Romney added with a sigh. "I look in the mirror every day, and I don't feel all that inspired, either."