Political reporter, SU alumn sheds light on Mitt Romney

Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish spoke in Maxwell Auditorium about his latest book, "The Real Romney."

Thirty-six years ago, Michael Kranish was a political science and journalism major at Syracuse University with an ambition to become a political reporter.

He stood in the same auditorium where he took an introductory American government class in 1976. Only this time, he was the lecturer.

Kranish, the Washington Bureau Deputy Chief of The Boston Globe and Syracuse University alumnus, spoke about his latest book, The Real Romney, in Maxwell Auditorium Friday afternoon. This was the first event of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs’ state of democracy lecture series.

In an age of information overload when many believe social media will replace traditional journalism, Kranish said the motivation behind dredging up the history of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is to provide an insight into his evolvement process for the electorate.

 “Many reporters are writing stories by the hour, sometimes by the minute, all sorts of stories they can think of about the horse race,” Kranish said. “But I think we also need a full-scale understanding of who the candidate is. That’s what always interests me.” 

Kranish said the political blunders Romney’s father made in the 1960s played an essential role in shaping who Romney is. In 1964, then-17-year-old Romney watched his father, George Romney, walk out of the Republican National Convention after criticizing the party for being overly conservative. In 1968, Gorge Romney stated in an interview that his support of Vietnam War was because of “brainwashing,” which immediately sank his presidential campaign.  

“Mitt learned a big lesson from that,” Kranish said. “As a result, Mitt is always very careful of what he says.”

In adapting to the competitive political environment, Romney transformed quickly from an independent candidate supporting abortion and gay rights in 1994, to a moderate Massachusetts governor who passed health care legislation, to a very conservative Republican presidential candidate today, Kranish said.

During his lecture, Kranish also scrutinized the widely-extolled career Romney held at Bay Capital Mortgage Corporation. He said the $13 million profit Romney claimed credit for from investing in Staples Inc. is actually the smallest yield Bay Capital made in 15 years. Also, Romney’s rapid shift from doing venture capital to the more controversial leverage buyouts was “striking,” Kranish said.

A Q-and-A followed the speech. When asked about who he would vote for in the election this year, Kranish said as a political reporter, he would not disclose his answer to anyone, not even his family.

“To pretend you have no view whatsoever, that’s not realistic,” Kranish said. “But as an old-fashioned journalist, you should filter out your personal views, whatever they may be, and still present objective judgments.”

Lorraine Reid, a retired nurse and an undecided voter, said she originally hoped this event would help her make up her mind as to who she should vote for Nov. 6.

“But he is so unbiased,” Reid said. “I’m not sure his lecture gives me direct information one way or the other, to be pro-Romney or not.”

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