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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notes: Making the Red Arrow’s wall of fame proves elusive, but I can do right by Mitt


August 28. 2011 10:41PM

The waitresses at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester weren't happy with the Mitt Romney picture they have on their wall of fame. It's out of focus, they told him the other morning.

As he was about to leave, one of them grabbed him by the arm. 'I need you, too,'' she said to me.

Well, I thought, that's using her head. She can get a new photo of Romney and get me for the same price. Finally, I would be up there with Adam Sandler and other important people.

My dream lasted until the waitress handed me her camera. I don't remember the last time I was asked to photograph a presidential candidate. It might have been Ronald Reagan.

I watched Romney interact with the morning diners, some of whom came over to wish him luck, others whom he approached with a smile. He was animated and not afraid to disagree - politely - with one woman on Social Security issues.

It is tough to deal with stereotypes. One about Romney is that he is stiff with people. A new one is that he is being 'rude'' with some voters. An old one is that he is the rich guy in the race.

He may be making progress on the stiffness. And the times I have seen him deal with hecklers, he has been pleasant, but persistent. He makes no bones about making a lot of money in the private sector.

Still, I asked him, why give the media and political foes raw meat right now by filing for permits to tear down a La Jolla, Calif., beach house and quadruple its size? That was the wire story we had run the day before, and it was all over the Internet.

It's not accurate, Romney said, simply. The application he made, two years ago, was to double the living space by turning one story into two. The 'quadrupling'' was a measurement of added nonliving space, including a basement and garage.

That sounds more reasonable, I said. Had he issued a statement to that effect?

He shrugged his shoulders with a 'why bother?'' look.

I think it's worth the bother. Accuracy in media is more than the name of a group. It ought to be what we in the profession strive for, rather than to have the story fit a preconceived notion.

We sure cannot afford to pick any more of our Presidents based on assumptions.

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