Skip to main content

Education Matters

Back to all posts

Frontline: The Choice 2012 Uncovers Candidates

How much do we really know about President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney?

Campaign ads and political pundits present certain points of view. But if we pour through primary sources like interviews, letters, images, videos and other artifacts, we are likely to get a more nuanced picture of the two men.

That’s the premise of the Frontline documentary The Choice 2012 which airs tonight at 9 p.m. The film goes back in time to both candidates' early days to track how they developed as people, their philosophies and characters.

To complement the film, Frontline has put together a website that includes artifacts and discussion questions and conversations from journalists covering the candidates. It’s a great way for students to do their own detective work on the candidates.

For example here are two artifacts posted on the site: Mitt Romney’s official oil portrait as governor. Here he’s depicted sitting on a desk with a portrait of his wife Ann and a copy of his 2006 healthcare reform law. What does that say about him?

The other is a photo of then State Senator Barack Obama in his office in Springfield, Illinois. A photo of Harold Washington and a poster from "Project Vote” a non- partisan non-profit group he was involved in appears behind him. What does that say about him?

There are much more artifacts that you and your students can peruse and use to enliven government studies. There are theletters that a 19 year old Mitt Romney exchanged about his Mormon missionary trip to France.

There is also a letter President Obama wrote to a college friend about his first impressions of Chicago.

Check them out and tell us what artifacts your students would find interesting.