This clip of Mitt Romney expressing his enthusiasm over Wawa, a chain convenience store, and specifically, his excitement over the fact that you order at Wawa using a touchscreen, is going viral:
Most of the reaction seems to be condescending. Andrea Mitchell is wondering if this will be akin to George H. W. Bush’s “supermarket scanner moment.” (Bush actually never had a “supermarket-scanner moment,” but who wants to be bother with the facts?) Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith tweeted the video, writing, “MUST WATCH: @MittRomney, once again, proving how absurdly out of touch he is.” Now, I have to say, as someone on a budget very different than Romney’s, I’ve never seen — including in all the random gas-station convenience stores I’ve stopped at when on the campaign trail in the primary — a touchscreen that you order sandwiches off of. So I’m having trouble buying this as being “out of touch” moment for Romney unless anyone who doesn’t visit Wawa (a regional chain!) is also out of touch.
But some of the snark seems to be just about Romney’s raw enthusiasm for the touchscreen. It’s a very Romneyesque moment: He does get excited, and about the most random things. (In a hotel in Iowa, days before the caucus, I overheard Romney praising the trees in the lobby.) And yes, in our cynical, snarky age, it is funny to see a 65-year-old display the same level of genuine thrill and excitement that a kindergartner would. But it’s also refreshing. Why shouldn’t Romney get excited? Why shouldn’t he enjoy the new sights and experience he collects along the campaign trail? Part of what I love about our style of campaigning is that we force candidates to visit large chunks of the country, and meet and hear from people of different backgrounds and perspectives. It’s nice to see Romney embrace that experience and its novelties (including touchscreens!), not just go through the motions glassy-eyed and blasé, immune to anything’s peculiar charms.