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7 Things We Learned From the Mitt Romney Sundance Doc

'Mitt' presents the campaign as both horserace and home movie. But what does it teach us about the candidate?

January 21, 2014 5:05 PM ET
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Filmmaker Greg Whiteley was given total control over his documentary Mitt – which premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival – so long as he promised not to release any footage until after the 2012 presidential election. That unfiltered access proved extraordinary: We see the former Massachusetts governor goofing around in the snow, tearfully praying with his family, chatting in SUVs and hotel rooms, prepping for debates and debriefing with aides. Mitt presents the political campaign as both home-movie and horserace and is almost entirely uninterested in policy. Whiteley's platform is practically nonexistent, tax rates for the wealthy are never mentioned and the infamous words "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" are never heard. The candidate is never portrayed as someone who would, say, misrepresent a position, twist a number, move money offshore, withhold tax returns or launch an unfair attack. (Though his first, successful debate against President Obama recieves plenty of screentime.) Still, we learned several new things about the election.

Relive Mitt Romney's Most Out-of-Touch Campaign Moments

Romney knew exactly what he was getting into.
At an early fundraiser, he says, "If I get beaten up, that goes with the territory. I have looked, by the way, at what happens to anyone who loses the general election. They become a loser for life. It's over. Mike Dukakis can't get a job mowing lawns. We brutalize whoever loses. So I'm going in with my eyes wide-open."

Romney's primary politics were just nasty as you imagined.
At one point, Romney says of a Republican rival, "He wants to kick my teeth in. He said that. Their campaign manager said he wants to shoot me in the groin."

Romney was self-aware about his biggest weakness.
During one tough primary, he says, "How many debates do I have to go to?" And then he speaks with his family about how, after being an unknown on the national stage, this election will change his life: "When this is over, I will have built a brand name. People will know what I stand for – the flipping Mormon." Later, he adds, "The flipping Mormon! I can't fix the Mormon side. But the flipping? It's like trying to convince people that Dan Quayle is smart."

Romney was pissed that former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who promised to stay neutral, endorsed John McCain just two days before his state's primary.
"Whoa, isn't this fun? You do something like this, you call and you say, 'Look, I made a decision.' By the way, we've all talked to him and said, 'Are you going to endorse anybody?' And he said no."

Romney was pumped after his first debate against President Obama.
Gloating after spanking a lackluster President Obama in the first presidential debate, he says, "Sitting presidents have a very hard time in these debates. . . They feel like, who is this whippersnapper coming in who knows nothing? I'm President of the United States! So they don't prepare. Then they get crushed in the first debate, like George W. Bush did."

Romney may have been a robot. Really.
When Romney irons his tuxedo while wearing it, his monotone "ouches" are hysterical. Watch the hilarious GIF here.

Romney echoes his "47 Percent" speech near the end of the campaign, adding that Obama will lead the nation off a cliff.
While planning his concession speech, Romney tells his family, "I don't think this is a time for soothing and everything's fine. I think this is a time for. . . this is really serious, guys. . . To get up and soothe is not my inclination. . . I believe we are following the path of every great nation, which is greater government, tax the rich people, promise more stuff to everybody and borrow until you go over a cliff. And I think we have a very real risk of going over the cliff in the next five years."

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