Archive for the ‘campaign literature’ Category
“An interview with John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mitt Romney, made clear why he is expected to win easily,” writes the estimable Michael Luo for the Caucus, The NYT Political blog, in a post titled Romney at the West Virginia Convention
[Credit: Kavon W. Nikrad]
“We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of,” said John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mr. Romney. “It’s all Romney all the time.”
Mr. McCutcheon, who has been working with Mr. Romney since 2006, when he had only a national political action committee. The campaign’s field director, Wendy McCuskey, was hired over the summer. In all, the campaign has three paid people in the state, along with hundreds of volunteers.
Early on, the campaign had believed West Virginia might be one of the early voting states before Feb. 5. Even after it became clear that would not happen, the campaign still poured out significant resources in the state.
Mr. McCutcheon described an ambitious county-by-county ground operation, complete with phone-banking, direct mail and radio advertisements, compared to only modest efforts made by all the other candidates.
“Any presence that has come in has been last minute and skeletal,” he said about the other campaigns [...]
Yet Romney’s investment was all for naught. Romney got out-maneuvered by his under-funded rivals. Romney’s response? A burst of rage in the form of a press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-****
Boston, MA – Today, Romney for President Campaign Manager Beth Myers issued the following statement regarding the outcome of West Virginia’s Republican Party convention:
“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change.
“Governor Romney had enough respect for the Republican voters of West Virginia to make an appeal to them about the future of the party based on issues. This is why he led on today’s first ballot. Sadly, Senator McCain cut a Washington backroom deal in a way that once again underscores his legacy of working against Republicans who are interested in championing conservative policies and rebuilding the party.”
Yuh-huh. Note the anger. Note the name-calling. Note to Romney: This is the price you pay for alienating the other candidates. See:
how friend and foe alike make careful note of Romney’s duplicity—on Santorum’s endorsement of Willard Milton Romney, where we discuss the “I hate Romney club”
“A memo from a senior strategist for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says that the media are ready to give the Republican nomination to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), but if Romney can attract more conservatives, he will win the nomination,” writes Sam Youngman in a TheHill.com analytical fantasia titled Romney memo says media ‘ready to anoint McCain’
“We still have an uphill battle in front of us,” Romney strategist Alex Gage wrote in the memo. “The mainstream media is (sic) ready to anoint John McCain and he will have advantages in many states running for president for the past eight years – but Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory on February 5th and beyond.”
The memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines how McCain has failed to win over conservative voters in the states that have voted so far, and it details how Romney could have won if only a few more percentage points of that bloc had come over.
“The coalitions that John McCain assembled in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida have been strikingly similar – and are strikingly tenuous,” Gage wrote [...]
[...] The memo goes on to say that Romney and McCain “are now in a two-man race and a few points’ movement among conservatives is all that’s needed to tip the scales in favor of Gov. Romney.”
Gage writes that in the early three states McCain won, his margin of victory was the result of the support of moderates, independents and voters that disapprove of the Bush administration.
“None of these groups is a majority of the Republican electorate,” Gage wrote, adding that this is the reason “McCain has failed to win more than 36 percent of the vote in any of them” [...]
Gage’s conclusions are based on an emerging fixed point in the discussion. Sen. McCain can reach across party lines to build issues coalitions; Romney can win the base. Chris Suellentrop develops the data coming out of Florida’s contest to arrive at a similar conclusion:
[...] In short, Mitt Romney won the Republican Party’s idea of itself and that, too, is a big deal. If you’re white, Protestant, anti-abortion, go to church on Sundays, think well of the President, want lower taxes, hate terrorists, make a good living, want to do something about immigration, and live in Florida, chances are you voted Romney. The question before Florida was whether McCain could win a closed Republican race, and now we know he can. The question now is whether he can win conservatives and in Florida, he did not [...]
Here, for Romney, begins what we earlier called the race to the base.
Hence Romney’s sudden volte face on whether to mount a last ditch advertising salvo. On January 30 David Espo of the AP reported that “Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday he’s not ready to finance a costly campaign in the states holding primaries and caucuses next week.“
By February 1 Dan Morain and Scott Martelle of the LA Times issued the headline: Romney launches Super Tuesday ad barrage; The multimillion-dollar campaign in far-flung states, he hopes, will help him regain the edge he’s losing to McCain. Experts question whether ads will help at this point
[...] Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney launched a multimillion-dollar purchase of television ads Thursday, in a last-ditch effort to remain competitive with GOP presidential front-runner John McCain in the Super Tuesday contests.
Sources familiar with Romney’s plans said the ad buy would exceed $1 million in California alone, enough to give the former Massachusetts governor a presence in much of the state. Romney also was expected to spread some money around to some of the other 20 states holding GOP primaries or caucuses Tuesday, though experts question whether the late advertising would have any impact.
“I don’t think it’s possible to flood the airwaves in 22 states,” Romney said, but he nevertheless authorized “a seven-figure — I won’t give you the exact number — but a seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign.”
After a series of single-state contests in which voters could shake candidates’ hands, the Republican presidential nomination could be decided by millions of voters casting their ballots after having seen the candidates only in advertisements or news reports.
Those political ads depend on candidates’ ability to pay for them, and with the fields in both parties dwindling this week, the surviving candidates looked to pick up the support of former candidates’ fundraisers and bundlers [...]
Can Romney pull off this last chance, high-stakes, 11th hour, and super-expensive gambit? Can Romney secure his nomination and destroy the GOP? Keep watching the skies. Or the airwaves.
Haven’t we all been here before?
Jason Bonham quotes Romney in a race42008.com blog burst titled Romney on Good Morning America
[Romney] “I think there will be a movement within the Republican party to coalesce around a conservative candidate. Mike Huckabee, of course, might stay in, and that might be one of the reasons he does so – is to try and split that conservative vote.”
Is this a wish? Is this a prayer? Media pressure will soon begin to mount against the hapless candidate, so is this the rationale—the reasoning, the alibi—for sticking it out after Florida decided for the now “presumptive GOP nominee, the honorable Sen. John McCain?
Note that this new talking point represents no fresh thinking, no new analysis, no current assessment of the situation or its many factors. Precisely the opposite is the case: this is the same argument for Romney’s fitness as a candidate that Romney has retailed for months and months, the so-called two-man-race theme that dates back at least to Iowa. See:
Romney’s 2-man race theme; an alibi for collapsing poll numbers?—this is from way back in October
[...] The Romney campaign, humbled by recent defeats, now hopes to rebrand his insider strategy as an outsider one. As the candidate soldiers on to the 21 states that will vote on February 5, the campaign holds out hope that the old coalition can be reborn anew. “We feel as though the conservatives are beginning to rally around Mitt,” said Ann Romney, after her husband delivered an upbeat concession speech Tuesday night, in a downtown St. Petersburg theater.
A few minutes earlier, and a couple dozen feet away, Jay Sekulow, a senior advisor to the campaign, put it this way. “Conservatives have a choice now, and it’s a clear choice,” he said. “You have got a conservative and you have got John McCain, who does not take conservative positions on a lot of issues.”
Downstairs, in the theater’s press filing room, Al Cardenas, a Washington lobbyist who chaired Romney’s Florida campaign, continued in the same frame of reference. “We think that the conservative movement activists are now beginning to panic about losing their grip on the Republican Party,” Cardenas said. “They better start working hard, and they have told us they are going to have to start working hard.”
The new Romney strategy has two clear components.
- First, the campaign is determined to marginalize Huckabee, who continues to poll well in many southern states, bleeding off votes from the vital socially conservative leg of the Romney’s stool. “Huckabee has proven he can’t win in the south,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s spokesman. “People are going to realize that this is a two person race right now,” said Sekulow.
- Second, Romney will spend much of the next week trying to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain, who leaves Florida with considerable momentum and already-high poll numbers in many of the states that vote on February 5. Though McCain has been hammered by some conservative voices, such as the radio host Rush Limbaugh, he has so far escaped the full ideological revolt that greeted him in 2000, when he lost the nomination to George W. Bush.
[Emphases and formatting are ours]
This final Romney gambit is likely to determine more than just the fate of one, well-heeled candidate. It could set the course for the Republican Party. In the old days, those who supported tax cuts for the wealthy worked closely with those who wanted to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. Those who wanted to grow the size of the military made common cause with those who saw global warming as an environmentalist scare-tactic meant to interfere with free markets. Those who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade also wanted to overturn campaign finance reform [...]
On its face the claim that conservatives will suddenly awaken to the grim reality of a Sen. McCain candidacy and turn to Romney is plausible but requires argument. The most urgent question this suggests is simply why haven’t conservatives turned to Romney before now? Is it not also plausible—in fact, demonstrable—in fact, part of Romney’s own argument—that the so-called Reagan coalition is dead? And if Romney were the one who could truly pull the sword from the stone, or breathe life into the dead coalition, why hasn’t he done it yet?—we’re all waiting, Romney; don’t tell us what conservatives should do or shouldn’t do, instead: show us what you can do.
Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of
(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.
Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.
Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.
In other words, Romney is perfectly willing to take the party down with him. So, let Romney unleash if he can the “full ideological revolt that greeted [Sen. McCain] in 2000.” Recent history—Iowa, New Hampshire—would predict that the gotterdammerung that Romney plans for Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain will rebound upon himself. See:
Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates
“In the wide-open Republican presidential contest, Mitt Romney boasts an influential fan who has the ear of millions of voters,” writes Michael Levenson in a Boston Globe article titled Limbaugh talking up Romney
Rush Limbaugh, the cigar-chomping conservative stalwart, has been on a tear over the last few weeks, talking up Romney and taking whacks at John McCain and Mike Huckabee. And in a race where no candidate has been able to unify the base of the Republican Party, Limbaugh’s chatter matters. With 13.5 million listeners on 600 stations, the nation’s most highly rated talk-radio host could give Romney a big boost.
“Of course it helps,” said Stuart Stevens, a media adviser for Romney. “He’s like the NPR for conservatives.”
Limbaugh, who makes a point of saying he does not officially endorse in the primaries, has nonetheless praised Romney effusively, repeated Romney’s policy talking points, defended him against attacks from fellow conservatives, and after Romney’s win in Michigan this week, declared him the front-runner.
Just as tellingly, Limbaugh has been crusading against Huckabee and McCain, whom he does not consider real conservatives or suitable heirs to the Reagan legacy.
If either wins the nomination, “it’s going to destroy the Republican Party,” he told listeners Tuesday [...]
[...] Limbaugh also derides the independents and moderates supporting McCain and Huckabee as “quivering masses of Jell-Os” and not real Republican conservatives [...]
Here is the problem for Limbaugh and the National Review. Post-Michigan the hapless candidate has shed his allegedly new-found conservatism like a reptile sloughs its hide, as anyone with any sense could have predicted—as anyone with any sense did predict.
Romney himself is paying a heavy price for his viciously negative campaigning—question: will Limbaugh pay a share of the invoice since he now carries water for the Romney family?
Reston of race42008.com earlier predicted that National Review and others will pay a price:
Reston’s prediction for 2008: “Romney’s nomination results in the GOP losing six-senate seats instead of three (Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) and a push in the House where at least modest gains were expected”
Here is what is most perverse, at least for us. Romney has already walked away from his botched, misshaped, caricatured, unreconstructed “conservatism” that idiots like the editors at the National Review and media voices like Rush Limbaugh insist upon:
- That didn’t take long!—Romney drops all pretense of any commitment to conservative values or principles—now argues that “it‘s time for Washington — Republican and Democrat — to have a leader who will fight to make sure we resolve the issues rather than continuously look for partisan opportunity for score-settling” etc.
- equity sector multi-millionaire Romney now champions the dignity of human labor, completely abandons arch-conservative line for latest version of Romney, Romney the progressive-populist
- Formerly conservative, now populist-progressive Citizen Romney promises to “save the Southern Economy”—Romney’s program of economic nationalism develops apace—and this guy was endorsed by the boneheads of the National Review?
P.S. Rush Limbaugh’s carrier, Clear Channel Communications, was recently acquired by Romney’s Bain Capital. Coincidence?
“This is what people like to call ‘industrial policy,’ and what Jonah Goldberg [of the National Review, which endorsed Romney for president] likes to call liberal fascism – big business and big government working hand-in-glove for the purposes of economic nationalism,” writes Ross Douthat in a theatlantic.com blog burst titled Where’s the Outrage
Douthat’s claim is a rejoinder to this quote from Romney’s infamous address to some insignificant group of nobodies whose name we refuse to recall:
[...] “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership” [...]
Back to Douthat:
It’s “sustained and detailed,” all right, just as Frum says – a sustained and detailed infringement on free-market principle, and one that appeals to voters in places like Michigan precisely because it goes much further to the left than Mike Huckabee’s substance-free talk about how the current period of economic growth isn’t doing all that well by the working class, or John McCain’s straight talk about how Michiganders can’t expect the federal government to bring back the glory days of Chrysler and GM. But because conservatives spend way, way more time worrying about the spectre of “class warfare” than they do about than the nexus between big business and the Republican Party, Romney gets off with a mild slap on the wrist, while McCain and Huckabee get tarred as liberals.
I’m overstating the case a bit, obviously; there a variety of good reasons, besides their response to Michigan’s economic pain, why McCain and Huckabee have come by their crypto-liberal reputations. But the extent to which Romney is getting a free pass for his back-to-the-’70s, “D.C. will save the auto industry” promises , while conservatives are still obsessing over how John McCain’s 2000-2001 preference for a more progressive tax code makes him a “class warrior,” seems more than a little ridiculous [...]
Yuh-huh. We concur. See:
Meanwhile, Romney attacks Gov. Huckabee through the Club for Growth on grounds of Gov. Huckabee’s allegedly non-free market policies. See:
“The Club for Growth has an affiliated 527 group, Club for Growth.net, running anti-Mike Huckabee ads in early primary states,” writes Team Huckabee in a Mike Huckabee for President post titled What Does $585,000 buy you
- At least $585,000 in contributions from Mitt Romney financial backers.
- Club for Growth has spent $750,000 against Governor Huckabee in Iowa, South Carolina and Michigan [...]
Operating under cover of 527s is part of Romney’s overall strategy—the following is from a left-of-center blog titled Think Progress:
[...] To hit McCain, Romney has relied on an anti-environment front group, the American Environmental Coalition (AEC) to do the work for him. Last week, George Landrith, the co-Chairman of the group, likened McCain to Al Gore and compared the senator to a wolf in sheep’s clothing [...]
Romney attacks his opponents on the right through surrogates and 527s even as he veers hard to the left. Where is the real Romney in all this angry noise? What does the man really believe?
First, let us pass in review:
(1) As Romney-apologists tell the story, Romney wanted to run as a competent technocrat, an outsider with the business experience and native genius necessary to “fix Washington.” Only Romney could never stay on message. So what the campaign emitted was unintelligible noise.
- Luo: “Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes—Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman”
- Bartlett: Romney miscalculated the primary field, hence his many flip-flops—OK., but what does this say about Romney’s character or competence?
In the opinion of observers Romney had tried early on to position himself as a social conservative, only this ridiculously revisionist line never withstood any encounter with the facts of Romney’s record. Romney responded by tacking ever further to the right.
(2) After Iowa returned its decision for Gov. Mike Huckabee, Romney suddenly transformed into the “change” candidate.
- Romney’s new theme of “change in Washington” developed by same super-genius advisors who delivered Romney’s Agony-in-Iowa US$10 million dollar rout
- Romney cross-dresses as Sen. Barack Obama in NH—Romney is a better Sen. Barack Obama than Barack Obama, Romney implies
- Martin and VandeHei: “[Romney] blame[s] reporters—not his advisers—for forcing him to focus intensely on his conservative views instead of the message of change”
(3) After New Hampshire returned its decision for Sen. John McCain, Romney transforms himself yet again. Romney abandons his social and economic conservative line altogether. Suddenly Romney wants to nationalize an ailing industry, only in the post-industrial, post-progressive era this assumes the form of a Washington-Detroit “partnership” combined with massive subsidies.
This is Romney himself from a Transcript of Romney’s Speech to the Detroit Economic Club
[...] “First of all, we have to be honest about the problems we have and tackle them head on. If I’m President of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership. It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.
“And as part of this, we will directly address and rectify the enormous product cost and capital cost disadvantages that currently burden the domestic automakers. From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standard costs, to the cost of embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer. The plan is going to have to include increases in funding for automotive related research as well as new tax benefits including making the Research and Development Tax Credit permanent.
“I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner [...]
In an article titled Romney on the Ropes, Byron York of the National Review comments:
[...] [Romney's] plan is to make the United States government a virtual partner of Ford, GM, and Chrysler. “If I’m president of this country, I will roll up my sleeves in the first 100 days I’m in office, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders and together we will develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership,” Romney tells the Economic Club. “It will be a plan that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayer.”
The plan would involve easier-to-reach mileage standards, increased funding and extended tax breaks for research and development, worker health care reforms, and more. “Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Romney says. “I am not open to a bail out, but I am open to a work out. Washington should not be a benefactor, but it can and must be a partner.”
Romney’s proposals might not be music to the ears of free-market conservatives who believe Detroit made its own problems and needs to fix itself. But it’s what a lot of people in Michigan want to hear [...]
Might not be music to our ears? Here be the problem, and it has little to do with Romney’s tone deafness: Not only does Romney’s plan to nationalize the US automobile industry reflect yet another complete ideological reversal for the hapless candidate—Not only is Romney’s proposal impracticable and nearly impossible on its face, just the worst possible public policy imaginable—Not only will Romney’s proposal issue into in a furious race to the bottom as Romney himself and the other candidates are forced to out-bid each other promising to bail-out, subsidize, or protect from competition other ailing industries and entire economic sectors—but Romney’s plan for MI is also based on a risibly inaccurate and historically flawed assessment of an already globalized and post-industrial US automobile “industry”. Micheline Maynard of NYT’s The Caucus outlines the case against Romney’s proposals in an article titled Romney Address a Car Industry That Has Changed:
[...] Mr. Romney’s speech to the Economic Club of Detroit on Monday seemed more rooted in a time when Detroit companies dominated the automotive scene, rather than now, when Toyota is No. 2 behind General Motors.
For example, Mr. Romney vowed that if elected, “in my first 100 days, I will roll up my sleeves, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders to develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership.”
But America’s auto industry now is no longer exclusively American. It includes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, as well as the leaders of European and Asian automakers. All have built factories in the United States over the past 25 years, particularly in states across the South. Collectively, foreign companies held 48.9 percent of American sales last year, when Detroit’s market share slipped to 51.1 percent, its lowest ever.
Mr. Romney also referred to a series of areas where the industry ought to engage with Washington, ranging from its pension and health care expenses, known as legacy costs, to mileage standards, known as corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE.
“From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standards, to embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer,” Mr. Romney said.
However, G.M., Ford Motor and Chrysler reached contracts with the United Automobile Workers union last fall that will shift their burden for retiree health care costs, the major portion of legacy costs, to an independent trust that will be administered by the U.A.W. Moreover, the companies and the union pledged to spend money creating a new think tank that will lobby for federal health care reform.
Speaking of fuel economy, Mr. Romey said, “Of course fleet mileage needs to rise, but discontinuous CAFE leaps, uncoordinated with the domestic manufacturers, and absent consideration of competitiveness, kills jobs and imperils an industry,”
Mr. Romney added: “Washington-dictated CAFE is not the right answer.”
But the auto companies just finished taking part in a spirited Congressional debate over CAFE during 2007. And while they fought increases in fuel economy standards early on, the automakers wound up supporting the new law that requires them to achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
Mr. Romney also had a vintage perspective on his father’s former company, American Motors.
“I used to ask my dad, ‘How in the world can you compete as head of America Motors when you’ve got such huge competitors, GM, Ford, Chrysler, the Big Three — how do you possibly think you can succeed?’” Mr. Romney said. “And he’d say in a way that I have not forgotten: ‘Mitt, there’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success. There’s nothing as vulnerable as entrenched success.’”
Yet it was A.M.C. that was vulnerable in its final years. It first turned to Renault of France for a rescue, selling a 46 percent stake to the French auto company in 1980, earning it the nickname, “Franco-American Motors.” In 1987, Chrysler purchased A.M.C. from Renault, and the company vanished from the automotive scene [...]
Back to Byron York:
[...] From the beginning of his campaign, Romney has argued that he is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives. But Romney is really mostly an economic conservative; his foreign-policy credentials aren’t much, and his social conservatism — highlighted by the famed flip-flop over abortion — has earned him as many critics as fans. That hurt him in Iowa and New Hampshire, but on the last day of the campaign in Michigan, it’s economy, economy, economy, and that is where Romney is strongest [...]
(1) Contra York, the National Review itself argues that Romney “is the only candidate who can unite the three main elements of the Republican party: economic conservatives, national-security conservatives, and social conservatives.” See:
- Shocker: “In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field,” the super-geniuses at National Review endorse the most fluid and unpredictable Republican, Willard Milton Romney
- NRO organizes conference call to defend questionable decision to endorse Romney—eyeon08.com reports that they received not one supportive question, and no one spoke in favor of the endorsement
So here you have York, a writer for the National Review, arguing that Romney really isn’t a conservative at all—correction: York argues that Romney is really only an “economic conservative,” even though Romney’s policies, as York admits with his “music” comment, are anything but conservative. What does this say about the goof-balls at the National Review!?
(2) Romney’s proposal for the US automobile industry is not economic in content or in character—this is not an economic proposal.
It is a political proposal.
It assumes in advance that the performance or non-performance of a US industry is a political question. It assumes in advance the priority of political agency over private activity. And it arrives at the conclusion that the US taxpayer should subsidize the wrongheaded and shortsighted decisions of US automobile executives, and that Washington should supervise—as a partner—and assume the costs of, an entire economic sector.
So why should Romney’s proposal not apply also to e.g. US agriculture, or the technology sector? This is the logical contradiction of Romney’s proposal: it admits of no conceptual limit or limit in principle. It is not enough to argue that the automotive industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for the US economy and therefore deserves special attention—every sector of the economy, it can be argued, is vitally important—that’s part of what it means to be an economy—every sector is interrelated, interdependent.
The empirical contradiction of Romney’s plan is this: it cannot be done. History has already returned its verdict on heavy industry as an economic driver. The cash value of manufactured goods has declined for the past 25 years. Industrial capacity is more generally distributed in the world. Information processing technology and technique drives up productivity so more can be made with less labor, and this drives down prices—etc., etc.—no longer can heavy industry be the material basis of the US middle class. It is simply impossible at this historical stage.
Romney’s plan is not merely government activism, it is government atavism. It is an attempt to reverse history.
Our conclusion: Romney is not a conservative. Not in any sense of the term. Also: Romney has successfully bought a primary contest by issuing a check he cannot possibly cash.
Michigan belongs to Romney now. He can have it.
P.S. Credit goes to eyeon08.com for the Byron York article.
[...] “Just as surely as Obama’s campaign has surged since his Iowa speech, Romney’s has suffered since he failed to say what needed to be said in Texas a month ago,” writes the estimable and insightful Tim Rutten in an LA Times article titled A tale of two speeches
From the start, the former Massachusetts governor has had to cope with the problem of religious bigotry. One in four Americans say they’re reluctant to vote for a Mormon. That antipathy runs even higher among evangelical Protestants, who make up most of the GOP’s social-conservative wing.
In December, Romney attempted to emulate — in an attenuated fashion — John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 appearance before a group of Protestant ministers hostile to the notion of a Catholic president. Kennedy hit the issue head on, mentioning his Catholicism 14 times, forthrightly embracing separation of church and state and promising to resist any attempt by the church hierarchy to dictate his conduct as an elected official.
Instead of addressing the issue forthrightly, as Kennedy had, Romney temporized and attempted to placate the religious right by soft-pedaling his own faith — which he mentioned only once — and by attacking secular humanism and proclaiming his own belief in Jesus Christ.
It wasn’t simply pandering, it was oddly bloodless. How, for example, could a Mormon candidate for the Republican presidential nomination fail to mention that his party’s very first national platform was built on two planks — the abolition of slavery and the elimination of Mormonism, both of which those first Republicans deemed “barbarous?” How could he not take the opportunity to remind his handpicked Republican audience that, as recently as the 1890s, thousands of Mormon men were arrested and imprisoned by the United States Army or that the U.S. Senate refused to seat a lawfully elected member from Utah because he was a Mormon?
Rather than do those things, he attempted to ingratiate himself to that very sector of popular opinion in which anti-Mormon prejudice remains most intact. In the process, he helped legitimize fundamentalist preacher-turned-pol Mike Huckabee’s naked appeals to Christian voters in Iowa. It’s a pitch Romney — and America — are likely to hear a lot more of in South Carolina and beyond, where the evangelical vote is even stronger [...]
We heartily concur. We argued early on that it was Romney who made Gov. Huckabee’s rise in Iowa even possible. See:
Romney’s “speech” sealed the hapless candidate’s fate in Iowa and the South, and it never had to be that way.
“Imagine if John McCain had narrowly lost to Mitt Romney in New Hampshire last night, and, when you down broke down the results, it was clear that the voters most concerned about the war in Iraq and terrorism went heavily for Romney—plus thought he would make a better commander in chief,” writes James Pethokoukis in a USNews.com blog burst titled Struggling Romney Needs an ‘Oprah Moment’ to Win
That would kind of kill McCain’s whole rationale for running, don’tcha think?
Well, that is pretty much what did happen, except in reverse. Voters who were most concerned about the economy went strongly—41 to 21 percent—for McCain over Romney, the multimillionaire venture capitalist. The Wall Street legend. The guy with the M.B.A. The guy who turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics. The guy who says, “I know how the economy works.” Even worse, Romney lost to a fellow who has admitted in the past that economic policy is not his strong suit and that he might need more of an expert as his veep if nominated.
See, the problem with Romney isn’t necessarily that voters don’t like his ideas—such as cutting corporate taxes or eliminating investment taxes for middle-class voters. It’s that voters don’t think he understands their problems. Until that hurdle is overcome, ideas don’t matter.
You have to do politics before you can do policy [...]
We concur. The struggle for NH has entered its archival phase. As we wrote before of Iowa, this is when the political community and various media dispute, interpret, or redact he outcomes of the contest.
Team Romney has failed at every task it set for itself. It failed to consolidate the social-conservative base as evidenced by the exit polling from IA and NH. It crucially failed to return clear decisions for Romney in IA and NH. Further, Romney massively-titanically overspent and received precious little in return. How much? Upwards of US$20 million of his own money on top of the US$80 million that he raised, but no one really knows. Tellingly, Team Romney isn’t saying.
Romney now leads in delegates, but by one estimate Romney has spent almost US$1 million dollars per delegate—so the question then becomes, given this preposterously low ROI, just how sustainable is the Romney tribe’s campaign?
This is also when a new discursive front opens up against Romney’s flank as
(a) pressure for Romney to withdraw begins to develop
(b) doubt, dissensus, and discord breakout within Romney’s own ranks.
To address (a) Romney has radically scaled back his operations, particularly his massive and massively ineffective media buys. To address (b) Romney has issued internal memos and issued promises to major financial backers.
“BOSTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decided to pull his advertising from South Carolina, where he was hoping to take on Mike Huckabee and John McCain, and from Florida, where Rudy Giuliani has been spending time and money,” write Jim Kuhnenn and Glen Johnson in an AP release titled Romney Pulls Ads in SC, Fla.
“We feel the best strategy is to focus our paid messaging in Michigan,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Wednesday.
The decision comes on the heels of back-to-back second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney, a multimillionaire who had used some of his own cash, had invested heavily in both states, counting on the two to give him the momentum toward the nomination.
Earlier on Wednesday, Romney had assured his top financial backers that he will win the upcoming Michigan primary, as he and his staff worked to soothe supporters unsettled by his losses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.
“It’s just getting started,” the presidential contender told hundreds of supporters gathered at a convention center for a followup to the “National Call Day” that raised an unprecedented $6.5 million a year ago
He promised to carry on to Michigan, which votes Jan. 15, as well as Nevada and South Carolina, which vote Jan. 19.
The public spectacle, a rarity for the normally tightly controlled Romney political operation, included appeals for calm from a top financial backer, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, and a top political supporter, former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri [...]
To assuage his paid staff and hirelings in field, Romney’s strategist Alex Gage issued one of his infamous “internal memos.”
Gage’s argument: Despite Romney’s losses and setbacks, “the Republican race remains wide open.” Talking points include:
- Gov. Romney’s message of change generated momentum in New Hampshire.
- Gov. Romney is the best candidate in the Republican field to match up against the Democrats in the fall.
- No other candidate is competitive in as many states as Gov. Romney.
- Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory moving forward.
That the Republican race remains “wide open” is true on its face. The other points in support of a continued Romney candidacy are false or simply meaningless until Romney solves his ROI problem, especially as the campaign transitions to a far more long-term, slow-accumulation-of-delegates strategy. Did e.g. Romney’s message of change generate momentum? No. Or: even if the answer is yes, the outcome of the contest indicates that it was not enough momentum. And how much did Romney spend per day in NH to promulgate his non-momentum message?
Does e.g. Romney have a clear path to victory? Maybe. Perhaps. But at his current spending levels it he would have to blow his entire fortune to pursue it.
What Romney needs, and does not have, is a message that connects with people on the ground—a narrative, a story, something, anything. A successful message could resolve or at least ease his ROI problem. As Pethokoukis argues, what Romney needs is an Oprah moment.
Only Romney needs more than a moment. And Romney’s own moment may have already passed.
“WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) — Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton learned a basic truth of marketing the hard way: All the media weight in the world isn’t going to help if people don’t like the message or the product,” writes Ira Teinowitz in an Advertising Age article titled Iowa Upends Political-Ad Wisdom; Bigger Ain’t Necessarily Better, Men Can Sell to Women and Gen Y Does Know How to Caucus
[...] Not only did Iowa deliver a blow to the presumptive leaders in each party, it also roughed up a few bits of conventional wisdom. Among the marketing and political clichés that took a beating: Today’s youth are tough to reach, disengaged and won’t vote; women respond best to women; and negative advertising usually works. Oh, yeah, and the guy with the biggest spend wins [...]
[...] John Zogby, president-CEO of polling firm Zogby International, said the results signal that it’s not only the amount of advertising that determines victory but also the message. He suggested that Mr. Huckabee emerged as a likable Ronald Reagan type and that his quick rise left little time for opponents to point out any questions about his record.
“Some people caught the mood of the nation. Some people didn’t,” said Fred N. Davis III, a GOP consultant and head of Strategic Perception, Los Angeles.
Or as Mr. Huckabee put it to Jay Leno the night before the caucuses: “People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” (Mr. Huckabee also noted in interviews that his was a victory for “message over money.”)
But that’s not to say “the message” should be confused with policy positions. In essence, Mr. Huckabee was running against the establishment. Mr. Davis argues that it wasn’t so much Mr. Huckabee’s stances voters liked; it was that they disliked Mr. Romney presenting himself as an establishment candidate. Mr. Huckabee’s successful use of videos featuring Chuck Norris also helped in that regard [...]
[...] Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the Huffington Post, said in the short term, Iowa also generated a strong evangelical turnout for Mr. Huckabee, but Mr. Romney’s advertising had problems. “It seemed as though, given the extensive amount of advertising, the more they saw, the less they liked,” he said.
And Mr. Zogby pointed out that Iowan Republicans may have long ago grown tired of Mr. Romney’s ubiquitous presence. “You can advertise too much,” he said. “People get tired of seeing the same old face, and he went negative. Iowans didn’t like it.”
While Mr. Huckabee pulled his own fair share of jabs and sucker punches, many of them were thrown off the air or quickly forgotten by the media, whereas Mr. Romney’s ads were in heavy rotation.
Again, that’s not to say that advertising doesn’t work. Good advertising — or at least inoffensive advertising — should help. Mr. Obama’s $10 million broadcast buy obviously contributed to his victory. But again, it was the anti-establishment message — one similar to Mr. Huckabee’s — that Mr. Obama provided that seems to have resonated [...]
Yes. Thank you. These are strings on which we have harped for months.
In sum, you must have a message. You must have a message that connects with people. How do you know if your message is successful? ROI, children. ROI. Can your message pay for itself? Or does it require huge subsidies to—or, in Romney’s case, complete saturation—to deliver. This was our constant fixed point in our discussion of Romney: ROI.
Also remember, children, a message is subject to the laws of diminishing marginal returns JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD.
Too little stimulus and no one notices or remembers. But too much and people stop listening. What you want is the mean, the golden mean, and this is Romney’s fatal flaw: the man has no subtlety, no sense of proportion.
The most successful messages will not persist in their effectiveness, but must be continually, continuously renewed, just like everything else in nature.
About going negative: it can be effective to go negative provided that your negatives are not higher than your opponent’s, and no one’s negatives are higher than Romney’s. If they are, you lose. Here is where we explain why:
Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates
“NASHUA, N.H., Jan 6 (Reuters) – Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney said on Sunday he would balance the U.S. budget deficit within “a few years” if he won the 2008 race for the U.S. presidency,” writes Jason Szep in a reuters release titled Romney says would balance budge in “few years”
Asked by a voter at a rally in the southern New Hampshire city of Nashua whether he would balance the budget by March 2009 if elected, Romney said he wouldn’t give a timetable because of the cost of financing the U.S. war in Iraq [...]
This is beneath comment. So let’s consider another point.
“At the Intrade Prediction Market, Romney has dropped to fourth place with only a 12.6% chance of winning the Republican nomination, behind McCain (who is now the favorite), Giuliani, and Huckabee,” writes the writer of Half Sigma in a post titled Time for Romney to withdraw?
We’re beginning to wonder about what Romney’s plan truly is. The so-called “data driven” candidate must know by now that the primary process—as it is conventionally construed—will not support a Romney nomination. Here may be the secret of Romney’s intentions:
Translation: In what Team Romney specifyies as Romney’s receding regional stronghold strategy, you can detect the outlines of Romney’s new national strategy. It consists in fighting to remain a player until the convention, accumulating delegates by means of grim attrition. It is a hard, despairing, and enormously expensive strategy.
Think of it this way: the task of the primary campaigner is to develop the coherent story of a message passing into a general movement from the fragmented, particular, and variable character of the contests themselves. Romney’s strategy now becomes the precise opposite. He must simultaneously
Eke out as many victories, near-victories, or rationales for non-victories (Iowans are religious bigots!) as possible to maintain the semblance of vialbility—again: until the convention
For Romney to prevail, he needs to develop disorder, disunity, and fragmentation. How do you accomplish this?—relentlessly negative campaigning. Every one must get slimed beyond viability. This is what happens in a game when you have a player who neither respects the game nor even the field it’s played on.
Meanwhile: expect lots more grandiosity from the hapless candidate as he fights to stay in the headlines.