Since there’s no video of the interview, we have no choice but to take Politico’s lead:
Mitt Romney conceded President Barack Obama has succeeded in making him a less likable person, but he offered a defiant retort to those hoping he will open up this week: “I am who I am.”
Romney quoted that Popeye line three times in a 30-minute interview with POLITICO about his leadership style and philosophy, swatting away advice from Republicans to focus on connecting with voters in a more emotional, human way at this convention. Instead, he vowed to keep his emphasis — in the campaign and any administration to follow — on a relentlessly goal-driven, business-minded approach that has shaped his life so far.
“I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they’re something they’re not,” Romney said. “You get what you see. I am who I am.”
I don’t want to extend Romney the benefit of any doubt, but it’s possible that he’s not quoting Popeye there. It’s possible that he’s quoting Exodus 3:14 — in which God tells Moses that his name is Ehyeh asher ehyeh — which means that Romney’s merely asserting that his Presidency will fulfill the White Horse Prophecy. Or something. I’d just rather believe a presidential candidate is invoking double-secret messianic nonsense than quoting a cartoon character whose popularity peaked in 1955. Unless this is his idea of courting the youth vote. In which case, given what I know student knowledge about culture prior to 2004, I strongly encourage him to continue this line of incredibly relevant and moving references that the young voters of today implicitly understand.