I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Mitt Romney and an invite for him to appear on Saturday Night Live.
Mitt Romney gets skewered on the show each week, but he has yet to come on the show himself.
As he and his team considers whether or not to appear, I have this advice for him: Do it!
In my mind, this is a no-brainer.
The Saturday Night Live invite is a gift and could not have come at a better time. Even Mitt Romney, even with his enormous wealth, could not buy the publicity he could get from it.
So, why do I feel he should accept?
Get to Know Him. It will help people get to know him. The public feels like he is too guarded. Nothing like a little skewering face-to-face to get people to know you and be able to judge your character.
Self Deprecation. Self deprecation is a good thing in this profession we call politics. You have to have an enormous ego to run for president, so to poke fun of yourself from time to time is a good thing. It shows you can laugh and it preempts others from making fun at you. If you say it they don’t say it. That’s just how this process works.
Sarah Palin appeared on the show after being lampooned week after week. She, of course, was running for Vice President. But by the time she went on the show, it was too late to undo the damage that has already been done. I think it helped her.
There was another politician who ran for president in 1996. People felt he was boring and lacked a sense of humor. He lost the election.
Then he went on The Late Show with David Letterman, and all the talk was about how funny he is and how much personality he has. But the public didn’t see it until it was too late. This candidate later went on to do Viagra commercials. Yep, I am talking about Bob Dole. Perhaps the election might’ve turned out differently had Bob Dole done that interview while he was still running. (And, interestingly enough, he also later appeared on Saturday Night Live.)
I am not a handler. I am a PR guy who helps people, political candidates bring out the best of themselves in the public arena. I’ve done that for Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, and many others.
I don’t help people become someone else. In fact, I won’t help someone become someone else. That projects a fake or false image. The public needs to like these people for whom they really are. So I help make that happen.
Political handlers are different. They try to make the candidate into the person they want them to be–or the person they think the public wants them to be. That’s dangerous and often ineffective.
I don’t know Mitt Romney personally. But if all the characterizations from his family and friends are accurate, he is a very likeable guy who has a sense of humor and wonderful sense of self. But the public never sees that.
In short, they think of him as a rich guy who’s a stick in the mud.
My advice to Mitt Romney: Have confidence enough in yourself and go outside your comfort zone. Let people know you–for you. Trust they will like you.
What I know about people is that they rarely like people whom they don’t trust. And they rarely trust people whom they don’t like. And they can’t like you or know you if you erect a “wall” that keeps the public from getting to know you.
If Mitt Romney wants to really give President Obama a run for his money and beat him in November, he needs to win over the public with his personality and not just policy. It will take both. And Saturday Night Live can make that happen. Done well, Saturday Night Live could change the dynamics of this election overnight.
My guess is that Obama’s people don’t want Romney to do ‘SNL’ because they know the enormous potential. Just look at Michelle Obama. She’s doing a high volume number of talk shows–not news shows.
If I were working with Mitt Romney (and how I’d love to if for just this very appearance) I’d make sure to review every skit and every joke to make sure that the envelope is not pushed too far. I nixed a lot of jokes when Blagojevich made his commercials and late show and other appearances.
So Mitt Romney: Do ‘Saturday Night Live’ and if you want my help with it, call me. My office is in Tampa. Home of the RNC Convention which is in just a few months from now.