The Utah senator told TMZ: "I have a bit of a cold and I didn't want to spray my germs all over the Twinkies for everybody else to eat"

By Adam Carlson
March 12, 2019 04:23 PM
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Mitt Romney turned 72 on Tuesday, two months after being sworn in as the junior senator from Utah — a political comeback of sorts after a generally lauded run as governor of Massachusetts followed by an unsuccessful bid for the presidency.

But the internet isn’t talking about any of that.

The internet is talking about the very polite, very particular way that Romney blows out his birthday candles. Is it, in the words of one user, “gentle” — or, as another called it, “bizarre”?

The debate was touched off almost immediately after Romney shared a brief video early Tuesday of staffers bringing him a cake made from Twinkies (his “favorite snack”) and singing to him. In the clip, he then proceeds to individually remove each burning candle and blow it out away from the cake.

“These are all wishes I get,” he joked.

As journalist Luppe B. Luppen put it: “Watch Mitt Romney blow out birthday candles one-by-one by picking them up individually and bringing them to his lips for a gentle puff of air.”

This being social media, there was instant debate and joke-making, with labels tending toward the hyperbolic and different tweets racking up tens of thousands of shares and likes. Headlines in TIME, BuzzFeed and elsewhere soon followed.

“His is the most bizarre technique for blowing out birthday candles that I’ve ever witnessed. Mitt Romney is a deeply weird dude,” one user wrote.

“Completely bizarre,” a second user tweeted.

Countered another (Entertainment Weekly writer Dana Schwartz): “Hot take: the weird way Mitt Romney blows out candles individually is actually Good because he’s not getting spit on the cake.”

Actually, wrote a third, “Anyone well-actuallying in Romney threads about the hazards of blowing out birthday candles in a conventional manner is a cop, sorry.”

TMZ caught up with Romney later Tuesday and asked him to explain his technique.

“Very simple: I have a bit of a cold and I didn’t want to spray my germs all over the Twinkies for everybody else to eat,” he said, also playfully noting that he wanted to take advantage of all the wishes from the candles.