Mitt Romney Announces Exploratory Committee

Mitt Romney announced the formation of his exploratory committee yesterday, with a low-key two-minute video aimed to connect with deep anxiety (especially among younger voters) about joblessness and the future of the American economy.

Poised against the background of a misty football field at the University of New Hampshire, Mitt continued to act like a front-runner, focusing on the economy while leaving burn-ups over homosexuality, abortion, and other hot-button “values voter” issues to Gingrich, Bachmann, and others who’ve been casting lots for the loyalties of evangelicals in Iowa.

Romney is banking big on New Hampshire and Nevada, early primaries in states less dominated by religious conservatives. (Nevada, where LDS voters can make up about 25% of the GOP turnout, is almost certain to go for Romney.)

In fact, to watch his video, it appears that Romney may be positioning himself as the least overtly religious of the likely candidates, redirecting the whole religious question into the pursuit of a renewed nationalism, evidenced in his campaign’s new signature slogan: “Believe in America.”

The most fervent moments in his announcement video came at two minutes, when the cameras dived in for face-framing closeshots, and Romney basically bore testimony in his belief that  “the principles of our Constitution that have lead us to become the greatest country in the history of the earth.”  (That moment made my Mo-Dar—like gaydar, but for Mormons—ping big time.)

In a race where he has already become everyone’s favorite example of a charisma problem, Romney’s muted style may offer voters the best—and probably the truest—sense of the man. 

Question is whether the mellow and dignified tact be enough to mute lingering questions about “Romney Care” and—gasp!—Mormonism sure to be exploited by his Republican rivals.

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