Mitt Romney appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" for the first time in years on Sunday, but the interview left viewers on Twitter feeling angry with host David Gregory for asking soft-ball questions which allowed Romney get off the hook too easily.
In the lead-up to Sunday's interview, there was a fair deal of speculation in the media as to whether the veteran journalist would give Romney the floor for 30 mins to repeat campaign talking points, or whether he would challenge Romney on key issues. Evidently, he failed to do the latter.
In the lead-up to the inteview Paul Abrams wrote on the Huffington Post, "What will Gregory do? Regrettably, probably nothing. He will dutifully ask Romney the same question a few times and relent, but probably will not do that on many subjects. Then, he will throw Romney a few softballs, such as "was Ann pleased with how her horse performed at the Olympics?" and that will be that."
That assessment did not prove to be entirely true, as there were a few interesting moments in the exchange. At one of the more interesting moments, Gregory asked Romney about why he did not refer to the War in Afghanistan or U.S. troops in his RNC Convention speech:
GREGORY: The Weekly Standard took you to task in your convention speech for not mentioning the war in Afghanistan one time. Was that a mistake with so much sacrifice in two wars over the period of this last decade?
ROMNEY: You know, I find it interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy, and so I went to the American Legion the day before I gave that speech –
GREGORY: You weren't speaking to tens of millions of people, Governor, when you went to the American Legion.
ROMNEY: You know, what I found is that wherever I go I am speaking to tens of millions of people. Everything I say is picked up by you and by others and that's the way it ought to be. So, I went to the American Legion and spoke with our veterans there and described my policies as it relates to Afghanistan and other foreign policy and our military. I've been to Afghanistan and the members of our troops know of my commitment to Afghanistan and the effort that's going on there. I have some differences on policy with the President. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech.
In another one of the key moments of the interview, Gregory asked Romney to get specific about the tax loopholes which he would close if elected president, something he has pledged to do at various points during this campaign:
GREGORY: Can you give me an example of a loophole that you will close?
ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down, otherwise they'd get a tax break and I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers. I am bringing down the rate of taxation, but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end, so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same – middle-income people are going to get a break, but at the high end the tax coming in stays the same – but we encourage small business, because small business is able to keep more of what it makes, and therefore hire more people, which is my priority.
But, for viewers the interview remained largely a wash, with Gregory failing to press Romney on the harder issues, or ask followup questions which would have prevented Romney from skirting around the edges of his questions.
Here's a summary of the top six most disappointed Twitter reactions with Gregory's interview with Romney on Sunday: