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No Macaca For Mitt

(AP Photo)
Mitt Romney's campaign has been doing its homework.

In a fascinating new approach to dealing with potential "Macaca Moments" – where a uncomplimentary snippet of a candidate is uploaded onto YouTube for millions of eyeballs to see – they have gotten ahead of a potential controversy -- and defanged it by posting the video on their own terms. According to USA Today:

Conflict "sells" at YouTube.

In just a bit over two days, a clip posted at the site by the campaign of Republican Mitt Romney has soared up the charts at the former Massachusetts governor's YouTube pages. It's gotten nearly 120,000 views so far.

Romney's folks call it "Gov. Romney interview with Jan Mickelson."

The Politico's Jonathan Martin has a grabbier title: "Mitt Unplugged."

Rather than a 10-second clip of Romney getting a little testy about questions concerning his Mormon faith and how he squares his political life with his religious views – a discussion that my Catholic brain is ill-equipped to judge, though "Under the Banner of Heaven" is now on my reading list – his campaign has posted the entire 20 minute clip of the interview, with all the context surrounding those occasional flashes of anger. By dealing with it head-on, the Romney folks have given themselves some measure of control over the clip.

And here's what most political reporters are missing: Unless you put in the time and effort to sit through over 18 and a half minutes of a radio interview in Iowa, you don't see the video of Romney saying "I get a little tired of coming on a show like yours and having it all about Mormon." (Or, technically, if you allow it to download onto your computer and hunt and peck for that passage in question.) And by that time, you've gotten a much better sense of the rhythm and spirit of the discussion – which really waters down the 'wow' factor.

Add to that the fact that this video was only available because the campaign put it out – despite the grainy feel – and you realize that the campaign is attempting a jujitsu move. They bring in viewers who are expecting a blunder, but end up getting them to listen to Romney's thought-out response to some common concerns.

So instead of a "gotcha" moment, we're left with a guerilla campaign commercial. Nicely played, team Romney.

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