Hot to Trot

Has Romney run right into a new flip-flop?

See Mitt run-not just for president, but down a street full of voters and a tree-lined lane, dripping sweat all the way. His staff is happy to display such physical well-being: The photo above was provided by his campaign photographer. And in two recent Romney ads the candidate is shown scooting along in full jogging regalia while a disembodied voice extols his leadership abilities. The message is clear: Focus! Determination! He’ll run the country the way he runs for health!

In a 2005 interview with this magazine, however, Romney sounded far less
enthusiastic about his fitness regimen. "I don’t mind it, but running for me, my mind is still, When is this over? When is this over?" he said at the time. "So I don’t find my exercise time to be a good time for thinking."

Romney spokesman Alex Burgos insists this isn’t another flip-flop, saying, "He’s been a longtime runner. It’s part of his exercise routine, in addition to skiing and water-skiing. He works out on the exercise bike as well." Team Romney has good reason to promote its man as an able-bodied achiever. His top GOP opponents aren’t exactly the picture of health-Rudy Giuliani’s downright pallid, and Fred Thompson and John McCain are in advanced stages of decrepitude. It also gives Romney an edge on dark horse (and runner) Mike Huckabee, who lost an inspirational 110 pounds in 2004. But the more he keeps it up, the more Romney might be laying the groundwork for an unflattering metaphor: running away from
his old positions.