By ROGER J. STONE JR. Former Governor Mitt Romney recently announced a series of Town Meetings called "Ask Mitt Romney Anything" where the public, and not the media, are allowed to ask questions funneled through a panel of "Typical Americans." Presumably, Romney will have the good-sense to televise these encounters as well as cutting them into effective :30 & :60 second commercials. This is a format first produced by the young Roger Ailes for Richard Nixon in 1968 called the "Man in the Arena." Ailes met Nixon in the make-up room of the Mike Douglas show where Ailes was the producer of the nationally syndicated show for three years. Ailes produced five live 90 minute programs a week. The former Vice President had a guest shot during his wilderness years out of public office but not out of the public eye. "It's a hell of a thing the way a guy has to use a gimmick like television to get elected," said Nixon. "TV is no gimmick," replied Ailes, "but a fact of life." Ailes told Nixon that unless he could figure this out he would lose again in 1968. Nixon told his law partner Len Garment to hire Ailes immediately. Ailes used the 'Man in the Arena' format to humanize Nixon who, standing without a podium and surrounded by people, would appear spontaneous, warm, relaxed, thoughtful, slightly humorous, self-deprecating, more mature and seasoned and above all less tricky. Gone was the partisan slasher of the 1950's. Here was a man of vast experience who had used his time out of office to reflect on the great challenges of our times and was ready to provide a Viet Nam War-divided America with "new ideas and new leadership." Ailes deft camera work as Nixon responded to questions from "Typical Americas" sold people the "New Nixon." In fact the canny Ailes has extenders fitted to all TV camera zoom-lenses and had Nixon's eyes specially lit so as not to appear dark or shifty. The close camera work created an intimacy that, for the first time ever, made people comfortable with Richard Nixon. Aware of Nixon's propensity to sweat under the Klieg lights, Ailes would mandate that the studio air conditioner be turned up at least a full four hours prior to the broadcast and camera rehearsal be limited as much as possible in this time period so as to keep the lights off and the heat down. All studio doors were ordered sealed. Ailes had Nixon dab himself with a chemically treated towel between takes. Ailes also mandated that Nixon keep a tan which made him look healthy and robust on television. Nixon learned this lesson the hard way in 1960. Jack Kennedy brushed-up his tan on the roof of his Chicago hotel the afternoon before their televised debate. Journalist Theodore H. White said Kennedy looked like "a bronzed God" walking in to the camera studio to shake hands with the pasty and over tired Vice President who had been cramming in his hotel suite after attending a rally. Ailes mandated a sun-lamp that Nixon would use at home and called it "home cookin`." Ailes displayed the "new Nixon" in the former Vice President's acceptance speech at the 1968 Republican Convention in Miami Beach. These were the days of gavel-to-gavel network coverage with all three networks showing the speech to millions. Nixon told me over dinner in his Saddle River home in New Jersey that it was Ailes how taught him how to drop his voice for emphasis as opposed to picking up the volume. It is a technique Nixon used with great effect in his "I see a small boy who hears far off train whistles in the night..." speech in which Nixon outlined how he had lived the American dream. The speech was so effective at displaying the new Nixon and burying the old one that Ailes cut it into: 30 & :60 second TV spots which ran through September of 1968. Ailes took his final shot at the electorate in a 2 hour election eve telethon broadcast live nationwide. In 1988 Ailes dusted-off the format effectively but this time called it "Ask George Bush," using it to tone-down the Connecticut Yankee's patrician style and make his "nice guy" qualities shine through. Ailes also utilized the format to give Bush the toughness people wanted in their President and to erase the so-called wimp factor. "You use your hands like a Goddam fairy!" Ailes would bark at Bush as he coached him on his presentation style. The more campaign technology has evolved, the more it has stayed the same because a brilliant idea and a keen understanding of the uses and power of television are still important aspects of campaign advertising, the new media not withstanding. Roger Ailes did it all and he did it 40 years ago.