“Yow! Watch me!” Mitt Romney began his speech to William and Mary Students in the pivotal swing state of Virginia. “Man, don’t it feel mess to be back up on the main kick, I tell ya. This joint is jumpin!”
With only a month to go until election day and Barack Obama holding a commanding lead in polls of younger voters, Romney’s campaign is trying to narrow the gap by having the candidate talk to America’s youth in a way that connects with them more. They believe they have found an answer in jive.
“Man, I remember what the haps was when I was your age,” said Romney, sharing a story from his youth. “I see Ann [Romney] walkin’ by and I turned to the cat I was with and said ‘Man, that’s a Dutchess right there. That bree’s a fiiiiine dinner.’ And then a couple ticks later I’m her main on the hitch.”
“Jive is definitely the modern language of young people in America,” says Romney campaign strategist Sydney O’Hara. “The combination of personal anecdotes and jive is, we feel, a potent one. But it’s not just about establishing a personal connection,” he says. “Mitt’s using jive to talk about real issues.”
“Man, these cats in Washington, they be muggin’ outta this world. Now they’re sayin it’s cool for you to spot ‘em a fiver and they ain’t even gonna tell you how they rung it. Do you collar this jive?” he asked the assembled students. “Because I sure don’t.”
“The message is still the same,” says O’Hara. “But we really want to connect with young people. And every day we see lots of young people talking, making connections with one another. And they’re all doing it using jive.”
“Thanks to all you hep cats for jumpin’ in port tonight,” Romney concluded his speech. “May the big guy keep it right for you, and may he do the same for this swingin’, hoppin’, boogie-woogie country of ours.”