Obama and Romney: Not So Different After All?

The rival candidates have more in common than you might think

Remember Obama’s so-called “beer summit,” in which he sat down over brews with professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and police sergeant James Crowley in an effort to calm racial tensions? The president said that day, “I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.”

To that end, he might (in a parallel universe) consider inviting Mitt Romney over to the White House as his guest for the next round of pints—because, for all their mudslinging, the candidate rivals actually have a lot in common.

According to a New York Times piece, the president and Romney are both brainy and introspective. They both favor Star Trek, pie and spicy chicken (though not together, presumably), and they share a distaste for the press. And both attended elite schools including Harvard Law, from which both received degrees.

“Interviews with people from the candidates’ overlapping realms—at Harvard, in the health care policy arena and in politics—yield similar observations about their personalities and their leadership and decision-making styles,” reports the Times . “Both are analytical introverts operating in a province of extroverts … . Neither candidate has much stomach for small talk or idle chatter. They have both been called difficult to know and even aloof at times.”

The Times also makes note that, while the candidates come from doting and strong mothers, it was the fathers of each man (or absence of a father in the president’s case) who were most formative in the men’s identities.

Importantly, Obama and Romney are both undisputed family men who credit their wives as being the most significant and best influences on them. In fact, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are both far more popular than the candidates themselves, and are softer, less-intense bearers—and, you might say, marketers—of the famous last names.

The piece concedes, of course, that the candidates’ similarities don’t point to shared politics or policy plans. But as the election cycle wears on and gets uglier and more personal, it’s refreshing to imagine Obama and Romney casually sharing beers and chatting about mutual experiences and characteristics.

On the menu for the fantasy meet-up? Spicy chicken and pie, naturally.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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