The Real Romney author describes who that is

Michael Kranish on CBS'"Face the Nation," Feb. 5, 2012.
CBS News

Mitt Romney's biographer says one explanation for the state of his campaign for president is that the former Massachusetts governor has been unable to run on some of his most important attributes.

"His faith is his most, one of his most 'important treasures'... it really defines who he is and yet as a candidate he knows a lot of voters are uncomfortable with the matter and so he doesn't really talk about it very much," said Michael Kranish, the Washington Bureau Chief for The Boston Globe and co-author of the biography The Real Romney, in an interview with Bob Schieffer for "Face to Face."

Romney, he says, also avoids talking about the things that define him politically - like health care reform in Massachusetts and his record in that state as a "pretty popular" and "pragmatic" governor.

"So there's a lot of things in his life that really he's uncomfortable talking about, keeps in a private place, and I thinks that's part of the reason perhaps he has trouble connecting because so many things that clearly shaped him are not the kind of things that he wants to talk about as a candidate," he said.

Kranish says Mitt Romney initially thought passing his health care plan in Massachusetts would ultimately "be a key for running for president," something he could point to as his "big landmark achievement" especially because it built upon conservative ideas, like the mandate for coverage that was promoted by the Heritage Foundation." But now in the context of post-"Obamacare," it's something he carefully tries to avoid in this Republican primary.

A week from Tuesday, Michigan voters will tell the nation which Republican they want to run for president. Romney, a Michigan native and son of the state's former three-term, very popular governor, George Romney, was expected to be a shoo-in. But just yesterday a poll from the American Research Group shows Rick Santorum leading Romney in likely Republican voters 33 percent to 27 percent.

If Santorum wins, Kranish says "that could be potentially harmful, perhaps even devastating for Romney if he can't win the state that he's so closely associated with other than Massachusetts."

But growing up in a state doesn't guarantee you much when you're running for president 47 years after you left the state to go to college. "There certainly are ties but it has been a long time and the Republican party in Michigan is a lot more conservative than it was when George Romney was governor," Kranish said.

Kranish says that Romney has also struggled to explain his position on the government bailout of the auto industry. Kranish points out the Democrats have used his "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed from 2008 against him strongly. This week Romney tried to clarify what he meant in 2008 when he wrote that New York Times opinion piece by writing an op-ed in the Detroit News. Nonetheless, "it's certainly an issue that the Democrats at the very least are using strongly against him."

Another thing Romney tried to clarify this past week was his conservative base. At the conservative CPAC gathering in Washington this weekend, he called himself "a severe conservative." But Kranish says people in Massachusetts, who probably know Romney-the-politician best, would describe him as a moderate. When he was governor, he was working with a very Democratic legislature "so he had to be somewhat moderate."