Mitt Romney really wants the press to like him, and to think Obama is shady

Now that he’s unofficially officially in general election mode, Mitt Romney’s focusing almost all of his attention on President Obama, and today appeared at the American Society of News Editors — the same event at which Obama called him and GOP pal Rep. Paul Ryan out for “social Darwinism” yesterday. And Romney was just as rough as his presumptive November opponent.

Specifically zeroing in on President Obama’s “troubling” hot mic moment with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Romney suggested the commander-in-chief lacks “candor” and prefers to keep his politicking behind the scenes. “The candidates must be candid about their views and plans,” he said. “And, in that regard, President Obama’s comments to President Medvedev are deeply troubling. That incident calls his candor into serious question.  He does not want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press.”

“By flexibility, he means that ‘what the American public doesn’t know won’t hurt him.’ He is intent on hiding. You and I will have to do the seeking.” Romney used the “hide and seek” motif again later in his speech, “With all the challenges the nation faces, this is not the time for President Obama’s hide and seek campaign,” because, he said without a trace of irony, Obama is a flip-flopper who espoused policies like higher corporate tax rates and regulations while president, but has gone back since getting back on the electoral trail. He also accused Obama of using Paul Ryan and his budget plan as a “straw man” to distract from his own failures and claims Obama spends too much time apologizing for America, a reliable right-wing meme, “The President’s attention was elsewhere–like a government takeover of healthcare and apologizing for America abroad.”

More than any rural campaign stop or stump speech, the press events provides both Obama and Romney a prime stage on which to set their plan for the coming months. It’s an opportunity to outline their forthcoming campaign attacks and perhaps sway eventual coverage of their progress on the trail. It’s also a time to suck up a bit to reporters, as Romney did when he praised the press, a rarity among Republican politicians more accustomed to bashing the “liberal media.”

“Most people in my position are convinced that you are biased against us. We identify with LBJ’s famous quip that if he were to walk on water, your headline would read: ‘President Can’t Swim,'” Romney joked.

Some people thus welcome the tumult in your industry, heralding the new voices and the unfiltered or supposedly unbiased sources…How your industry will change, I cannot predict… But I do know this: You will continue to find ways to provide the American people with reliable information that is vital to our lives and to our nation. And I am confident that the press will remain free. But further, I salute this organization and your various institutions in your effort to make it not only free, but also responsible, accurate, relevant, and integral to the functioning of our democracy.

Oooo, what a perfect opportunity for hopeless Republican rival Rick Santorum to start claiming Romney’s in bed with the elitist media!