Russert cited “business and CEO experience” in claiming Romney “looks presidential”

On the May 30 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer said of former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA): “And while showing some strength at the polls ... many say he even looks presidential.” Minutes later, NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert told Lauer: “Matt, I think your interview and your analysis is exactly on target. Mitt Romney is seen as someone who looks presidential with the business and CEO experience.” As Media Matters for America has documented, numerous other media figures have praised Romney's appearance or said he looks like a president, including Republican pollster Frank Luntz, Newsweek senior writer and political correspondent Jonathan Darman and assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon, and former Time magazine White House correspondent (now chief political correspondent for The Politico) Mike Allen.

From the May 30 broadcast of NBC's Today:

LAUER: He's a Republican candidate running for president who raised $23 million in the first quarter of the campaign.

[begin video clip]

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Welcome to Harvey's.

ROMNEY: Thank you. How are you today?

[end video clip]

LAUER: And while showing some strength at the polls --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [video clip]: Oh, we came here to see you.

LAUER: --many say he even looks presidential.

ROMNEY [video clip]: Nice to meet you.

LAUER: However, former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney is very much still a man trying to define himself, especially on the question of his faith.


ROMNEY [video clip]: I'm convinced that America's days are brighter in the future even than they have been in the past.

LAUER: You talk sometimes in a room -- and I just listened to you a little bit -- you talk about your business experience, you know, what -- you know, the kind of CEO-slash-politician. I remember George [W.] Bush, who was running for president, talked about his business experience also. What do you bring to the table that's different?

ROMNEY: Well, every person is different. Just because people are in the same party or have a background that's similar doesn't mean they are the same people.

LAUER [voice-over]: The war in Iraq was not part of Romney's speech at a local high school, but one student did put him on the spot.


RUSSERT: Matt, I think your interview and your analysis is exactly on target. Mitt Romney is seen as someone who looks presidential, with the business and CEO experience. I think that the reason he's under the microscope is that some of his positions that he took as governor have evolved now that he's become a more conservative presidential candidate.