Ashley Parker, Michael Barbaro of NYT smear Mitt Romney as kind of weird
One tactic Mitt Romney's opponents have used and will continue to use is to portray him as a little weird for belonging to a weird religion. Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro of the New York Times are taking a different tack to get to the same point: highlighting some of Romney's small talk that - were it said by anyone the NYT supports - would be presented as charmingly avuncular (or just ignored entirely).
Their article ("The Retooled, Loose Romney, Guessing Voters’ Age and Ethnicity", link) is such an obvious attempt to attach a "robotic and a little weird" vibe to Romney that you wouldn't think anyone would fall for it. Yet, there are two examples at  of others doing just that.
From the article:
When Mitt Romney introduces himself to voters, he has a peculiar habit of guessing their age or nationality, often incorrectly. (A regular query: "Are you French Canadian?")
When making small talk with locals, he peppers the conversation with curious details. ("We stayed in the Courtyard hotel last night," he told a woman at a diner. "It's a LEED-certified hotel.")
...For a candidate who is exceedingly risk-averse, Mr. Romney has developed an unlikely penchant for trying to puzzle out everything from voters' personal relationships to their ancestral homelands.
"Sisters?" he asked. (Nope, stepmother and stepdaughter.) "Your husband?" he wondered. (No, just a friend from the neighborhood.) "Mother and daughter?" he guessed. (Cousins, actually.)
Contact @ashleyrparker and @mikiebarb and suggest they press the candidates on their policies rather than assisting the NYT with personal smears.