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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Romney\'s Next Test


To put the question bluntly: How will Mitt Romney perform on “Meet the Press”?

Tonight marks not just the end of the Democratic convention, but also the beginning of the final, crucial stretch of the presidential race, when schedules and arguments intensify and then intensify some more. Expect an early-morning tussle on Friday to spin the monthly jobs numbers, and later that day, the candidates will face off in the same states. Mr. Romney has events in Iowa and New Hampshire, where President Obama will simultaneously put on a show of force, campaigning with Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Dr. Jill Biden. (After that, the two sides proceed their separate ways through more swing st ates: Mr. Romney to Virginia, Mr. Obama to the critical I-4 corridor in Central Florida.)

But the real question may be how Mr. Romney performs on television's marquee political show, under the sure-to-be tough treatment of David Gregory, the moderator. (They are taping their interview for “Meet the Press” on Saturday morning in Boston, according to Betsy Fischer Martin, the program's executive producer.) Mr. Romney generally prefers interviews by Fox News hosts or gentler questioners like Bob Schieffer of CBS News. When challenged, he can become the Mitt Romney that aides don't want anyone to see - visibly irritated, annoyed at being questioned. And keep in mind just how dangerous even unthreatening questions can be: Mr. Romney caused a huge stir in July with a simple - and factual - answer to a benign question about the London Olympics.

Mr. Romney's interview airs on Sunday morning.