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Cook: Romney Must Connect Or Lose

It is crucial for Mitt Romney to find a way to connect with voters on a human level during the Republican National Convention or he could lose in November, despite a bad economy, political analyst Charlie Cook told Utah delegates Thursday.

"I think this week is critically important for Romney because he has to create a bond this week," Cook said. "I think its got to be this convention that’s going to create that personal connection. People are ready to fire President [Barack] Obama, but they just have to feel some connection with Romney."

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The Romney campaign dropped the ball in failing to air ads focusing on Romney’s human side "to provide a Teflon coating" from negative ads from the Obama campaign that they should have know were coming. As a result, voters know almost nothing about Romney as a person.

"He’s not the most gregarious guy you've ever met in your life. And sure he kisses babies, but he doesn't look like he enjoys kissing babies," Cook said.

In recent focus groups, undecided female voters knew he is a businessman and is wealthy and some knew he is Mormon, but there was nothing else that would have made them vote for him.

"This isn't a popularity contest. He doesn't have to be more likable than President Obama. He just has to be likable enough," he said.

Cook also believes Romney took too much of a hard-line policy on illegal immigration, costing him support among Latino voters.

"If Romney gets a percentage of the white vote that is on par with the biggest Republican landslides in American history, it’s conceivable he could still lose the election," Cook said, because he is doing so poorly among minority voters.

In Congress, Cook predicts Republicans will maintain control of the House, but the Senate, he said is up for grabs, with one or two races deciding which party will control the body.

-- Robert Gehrke

Twitter: @RobertGehrke

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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