Mitt Romney picks up trash and always makes sure the lights are turned off. He good-naturedly lets his wife muss up his hair. He laughs out loud when his sons tackle him in the snow and dab frosting on his face.
These are some of many candid and classic moments revealed in Mitt, a Netflix documentary about the twice-failed presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney. Filmmaker Greg Whiteley, a Mormon like Romney and clearly sympathetic to the Romneys, skips through the nitty-gritties of policy framing and campaign strategizing to show Mitt as a funny, regular family man who laughs at defecation jokes and irons his own cuffs.
Those anecdotal montages layer with key campaign moments and family conversations to portray the election campaign as a vicious, physically and emotionally agonizing boxing ring of identity seeking, identity branding, and identity smearing. His son Josh exclaims in frustration, “This is so awful. You always hear about, ‘Oh, why can’t we get someone good to run for President?’ This is why! ... For goodness sakes, here’s a brilliant guy ... and we just get beat up constantly. ... And you just think, ‘Man, is this worth it?’”
Before Romney decided to run for president, he made a “pros-and-cons” list with his whole family. Daughter-in-law Jennifer says, “I think the con would be that you’ll be president. Who wants to have to be president?” The family voices concerns about stress and public bias, already aware that being a Mormon plutocrat won’t score popularity. Josh quips, “You’d be bald in about a month.”
Romney kept his hair, but Mitt echoes Jennifer’s initial sentiment: “Who actually wants to be president?” Because the campaign is just the first hurdle to an uphill battle that exposes and chaps raw the whole family. Mitt doesn’t just humanize Romney. It humanizes every candidate, every spouse, parent, child, and sibling who stuck beside the person on the way to become the most powerful face—and sometimes bull’s-eye—of America.