With the new backing of Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney now has the support of nearly all of his former Republican opponents. But the presumptive presidential nominee still faces a disconcerting divide with voters: They just donât find him that likable.Â A new USA TODAY/Gallup poll released Monday found that just 31% of voters found him likable, compared to 58% for President Obama.
So what's the problem?Â Romney isÂ smart, successful, polite and even handsome.
The answer may be hiding in plain sight. From the offhand comments muttered in homes and happy hours, to the repeat jokes on late-night comedy sketches, it seems some in America are asking if Mitt Romney is just too much of a dork.
âHe was really awkward,â Otterbein University student Carissa Reed said of her experience sitting on stage with the former Massachusetts governor two weeks ago. âYou could tell he was out of his element. âŚ I was just, like, 'Should I clap?â None of us knew what to do.â
Reed was witness to what may have been Romneyâs most awkward speech of the year, with the least crowd response. During much of the 40-minute Otterbein address, students from various universities, who were on stage with the candidate, openly yawned, looked at their watches, sent texts or e-mails and in at least one case, appeared to fall asleep.
Romney, in a somewhat self-deprecating way, began the speech by pointing to problems on stage. The students were sitting behind him, facing his back. The blackboard he wanted wasnât there. His voice trailed off as he spoke of the issues. In the body of his speech, the candidate made some significant philosophical points but drove few ideas home with impact.
He was not connecting.
The Romney campaign did not respond to CNNâs questions about the Otterbein speech and the idea thatÂ its candidate may be awkward, or dorky, in public.
âI got the impression that heâs someone smart, but whoâs genuinely uncomfortable in front of a crowd,â said Otterbein political science professor Allan Cooper. âYou actually see him standing up there âŚ trying so hard to connect with these young people and failing so miserably at it.â
Cooper, who advises both the college Democrats and the college Republicans on campus, insists he is not partisan. He believes that Romneyâs inability to connect is a significant issue and that it lost the support of all the swing voters in his class who saw him speak.
The killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden should be the cue for the United States to end its war on terror, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen said Monday.
"Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now," Bergen said.
Bergen believes that the iconic nature of bin Laden's persona cannot be replaced. He says that Pakistan still is a hotbed for terrorism, and that small-scale attacks are possible.
But at some point, he says, the United States has to say the war on terror is over. Otherwise, he says, the country will fight it forever.
A finding by the Senate parliamentarian has narrowed Democrats' options for passing health care reform, and could force House Democrats to approve the Senate health care bill and have the president sign it into law before they vote on changes to the measure.Â