Archive for the ‘election 2008’ Category
[...] “Let me be the bearer of good news: no, Mitt Romney is still not acceptable,” writes Alex Knepper in a race42008.com blog burst titled The Case Against a Romney Vice-Presidency
Allow me to deconstruct the ridiculous fallacies that would lead one to support a Romney vice-presidential nomination [...]
Please read and enjoy Knepper’s arguments, one by one.
[...] “Glover Park Group, founded by and stocked with some of Washington’s best-known Democrats, is suddenly going bipartisan despite the possibility of a Republican wipeout in November,” writes Mike Allen of politico.com in a story titled Democratic firm adding Republicans—not terribly bright, nominal Republicans, anyway.
The strategy firm announced Wednesday that it is hiring Kevin Madden, 36, who appears frequently on television as a Republican analyst and was a top official in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign [...]
In an ABC News blog burst titled Romney Camp Laments, John Berman Reports: The remnants of the Romney campaign are shaking their heads this morning.
For months they were whispering about a New York Times investigation into John McCain’s ties to a certain lobbyist.
They would poke and prod reporters to see if they had heard anything new about when and if the New York Times would publish the story.
On Thursday, while no one would allow their name to be published, several former advisers lamented the timing of the story, one suggesting, “If this piece had run before New Hampshire, McCain would have lost. If it had run before Florida, he would have lost” [...]
[...] Most of Romney’s staff has dispersed, but when reached they made clear there would be no statement from Romney or the Romney team about the New York Times piece … just a lot of wondering about what might have been [...]
Here is what would have been: You would have still discovered a way to fail. So: Let it go, losers. Just go home. You had lots of second chances and you blew them all. See:
John Ellis: [Romney] “was terribly served by his campaign staff and advisors—I would argue that they win the worst campaign team of 2008—Good riddance to them—They had everything they needed to make a good run and they made a complete hash of it”
Also: the NYT smear will redound to Sen. McCain’s benefit.
“WASHINGTON (AP) — A campaign fundraising report shows Republican presidential dropout Mitt Romney lent himself $7 million last month. That means Romney spent more than $42 million of his personal fortune on his failed campaign,” writes Jim Kuhnhenn in an Associated Press transmission titled Romney Lent His Campaign $7M in January
The former venture capitalist and Massachusetts governor finished January with nearly $9 million in the bank. But more than $3 million of those funds must be returned to donors because they were earmarked for the general election [...]
[...] “Before abandoning his bid to become president, Mitt Romney put in at least $42.3 million of his own money, a big chunk of the $97 million he spent on the campaign,” writes the entire staff of the Boston Globe in an article titled Romney spent $42.3m of own money; McCain reports raising $49m
His campaign reported to the Federal Election Commission yesterday that he loaned his campaign $6.95 million during January to reach that total.
The former Massachusetts governor’s total self-financing puts him ahead of Steve Forbes, the publisher who spent $38 million on his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination in 1996, but shy of the $63.5 million that H. Ross Perot spent on his 1992 third-party presidential campaign.
Romney’s total loan also equates to about $167,000 for each of the 253 delegates he won before suspending his campaign. By suspending his bid, Romney, who made an estimated $250 million as a venture capitalist, can keep raising money to possibly pay himself back.
Romney also reported raising $9.7 million last month, bringing his campaign total to $63.6 million.
That total is appreciably more than that raised by John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee whom Romney endorsed last week. McCain received contributions totaling about $49 million and borrowed nearly $4 million more by the end of last month.
During January, McCain raised $11.7 million and borrowed $950,000, his campaign reported to the FEC. After he emerged as the front-runner, he raised nearly twice as much in January than during the previous three months combined [...]
Conclusion: Romney dominated the field with his own money and his fund raising prowess. Yet he still failed. More evidence of Romney’s preposterously low ROI for his every campaign dollar.
“Bottom line: the Romney campaign made their bed with the early state primary strategy and got short-sheeted,” writes Justin Hart in a race42008.com blog burst titled, strangely, Autopsy of a Great GREAT Campaign
The momentum that Huckabee gained through his stunning Iowa win together with the victory that McCain edged out in New Hampshire seriously maimed the Romney narrative [...]
Hart refers to Romney’s ill-starred von Schlieffen plan, a plan that we criticized early and often. Romney’s von Schleiffen plan was an electoral-map fantasia so over-the-top preposterous that we always assumed that it was a cover for a more rational undertaking, an undertaking that required secrecy to pursue. We were wrong about that, and about a lot else besides.
John Ellis has a different take on the “Team Romney mounted a GREAT campaign” theme, one more consonant with our experience:
[...] The sad thing about the Romney campaign’s demise is that Mitt Romney is an exceptional person; highly intelligent, enormously hard-working, a man of great integrity and grit and executive ability. Given the dearth of talent in both parties — the seemingly endless parade of mediocrity and venality — we’re lucky to have people like Mitt Romney who are willing to get in the game. But he was terribly served by his campaign staff and advisors. I would argue that they win the worst campaign team of 2008. Good riddance to them. They had everything they needed to make a good run and they made a complete hash of it [...]
The problem: to explain just went wrong is surpassingly difficult as it requires the observer to interpret the data of the world differently than is otherwise the case. Byron York attempts such an explanation on personal and narrative grounds in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed
[...] Romney made a lot of mistakes that didn’t seem like mistakes at the time. Drawing on his enormous success as a business consultant, he put together an impressively well-organized and professional campaign. That was good. But he never fully understood that the voters were looking for some spark in a candidate that connects him to them. Instead, Romney placed his faith in his magnificent organization and his PowerPoint analyses.
He hired a lot of people, spent millions to build organizations in key states, and then spent millions more for television and radio advertisements. The day after the Iowa caucuses, I dropped by WHO radio in Des Moines, and a top station official told me that Romney had been WHO’s second-biggest advertiser in 2007. (First was Monsanto farm chemicals.) In all, Romney pumped $1 million into WHO’s bank account. In South Carolina recently, a local politico marveled at how much money Romney’s in-state consultants made from the campaign. “Those guys made a mint out of him,” the politico told me. “It’s sinful how much they made.”
Yuh-huh. How much of the Romney phenomenon is the story of a super-rich ingenue getting bilked—just mercilessly fleeced—by a corrupt and cash-starved GOP party establishment?
Back to York:
As a result of all that spending, Romney ran a campaign on a deficit, deeply in debt. Of course, it was in debt to Romney himself, who put $35 million of his own money into the campaign as of December 31, and likely a lot more since. All that money freed Romney and his team from making some of the tough decisions that other campaigns had to make every day. You could argue either way whether that was good or bad.
Just before the Iowa caucuses, I was at a corporate headquarters outside Des Moines, asking a few questions of Eric Fehrnstrom, the press secretary who usually traveled with Romney. Fehrnstrom looked at Mike Huckabee’s campaign and saw a ragtag lot. “We’re going up against a loose confederation of fair taxers, and home schoolers, and Bible study members, and so this will be a test to see who can generate the most bodies on caucus day,” Fehrnstrom said.
I interrupted for a moment. “Not that there’s anything wrong with any of those groups?” I asked.
“Not that there’s anything wrong, but that’s just a fact,” Fehrnstrom continued. “That’s just where he has found his support. I have a theory about why Mike Huckabee holds public events in Iowa like getting a haircut or going jogging, or actually leaving Iowa and going to California to appear on the Jay Leno show. It’s because he doesn’t have the infrastructure to plan events for him. And when he does do events in Iowa, he goes to the Pizza Ranch, where you have a built-in crowd, so you don’t have to make calls to turn people out. We’re very proud of the organization we have built in Iowa.”
They had reason to be proud; it was a good organization. But in a bigger sense, they just didn’t understand what was going on. Fehrnstrom, like his boss, placed a lot of faith in Romney, Inc. How could a bunch of seat-of-the-pantsers like the Huckabee campaign possibly beat the Romney machine? Well, they could, in Iowa, and McCain could in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and then in Florida and on Super Tuesday. The race was never about the imposing infrastructure Romney had built. It was about that ineffable something that voters look for in candidates. With Huckabee, some of those voters saw an intriguing and refreshing figure. With McCain, a larger number saw someone who wanted, above all, to defend the United States. And with Romney — well, they didn’t quite know what to think [...]
This is the problem with positive feedback, say, success. Success often passes into a crisis of perception as people and organizations optimize for successful activities at the expense of a more thorough review of changing conditions etc. It is the very definition of the learning or the experience curve. Failure and tragedy are excellent teachers; but what works for us—our triumphs, our successes—affirms us in what we are already doing, and recedes into the half-consciousness of habit and routine.
But here the problem for the Romney campaign was always this: their success itself was never real. For example: Their highly professional organization was the best that money could buy, but that money was not a reliable indicator of the candidate’s success as a fund-raiser or fitness as a candidate. It was only ever an indicator of the candidate’s personal worth.
ROI, people. ROI. There is no more effective metric for the success of a message or a message campaign than the your Return on Investment, and Romney’s was always preposterously low.
first as tragedy, then as farce: “Turns out that after the applause died, Romney huddled with ‘some 50 stalwarts of the political right’ to discuss making the former Massachussetts governor ‘the face of conservatism, as Ronald Reagan became en route to his 1980 election win,’ the Washington Times reported this weekend”
[...] “Last week, immediately after Mitt Romney pulled out of the Republican presidential race, we noted that his CPAC address sounded less like a concession speech and more like a bid to become the voice of the culture wing of the GOP,” writes The Political Insider for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a blog burst titled Reed, Sekulow in on Romney-as-face-of-conservatism meeting
Darn, we’re good.
Turns out that after the applause died, Romney huddled with “some 50 stalwarts of the political right” to discuss making the former Massachussetts governor “the face of conservatism, as Ronald Reagan became en route to his 1980 election win,” the Washington Times reported this weekend.
Participants at the meeting included Georgia’s Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, and Jay Sekulow of Alpharetta, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, who served as a kind of liaison to evangelicals for the Romney campaign.
“The movement needs someone of Ronald Reagan’s stature and Romney could fill that role,” the Times quoted Sekulow as saying [...]
The Romney watch continues.
From the Washington Times article titled Right wants Romney as standard-bearer, by the estimable Ralph Z. Hallow:
[...] Participants said the group was not organizing against the presidential bid of Sen. John McCain, the party”s presumptive nominee, but only seeking to revive core values such as lower taxes, limited government and free speech.
“The purpose of the meeting was for him to announce his willingness to fight shoulder to shoulder with true conservatives from here on out,” said political strategist Paul Erickson, who worked for Mr. Romney”s campaign. “He did just that” [...]
Um, yeahright. Is this a case of cash starved conservative activists who want to further bilk a super-stupid rich guy to fund their own projects? Or is this a move to divide the right and guarantee that Sen. McCain gets defeated in November? Whatever is the case, watch your back, Senator McCain.
[...] “When Romney tried to present himself as the most conservative of conservative candidates — remember when he said, playing on Paul Wellstone’s old line, that he represented “the Republican wing of the Republican party”? — a lot of conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina and beyond didn’t quite know what to think,” writes Byron York in an NRO article titled Why Romney Failed; Where was he coming from? Voters never really knew
When they saw video of him in the fall of 2002 — not that long ago, during a debate in his run for Massachusetts governor — vowing to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose” five times in a relatively brief period of time, they didn’t quite know what to think. When they saw video of him almost indignantly saying that “I wasn’t a Ronald Reagan conservative” and “Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan/Bush; I am not trying to return to Reagan/Bush” — they didn’t quite know what to think. And when they read the letter he wrote saying he would “seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens” even more than Ted Kennedy, they didn’t quite know what to think.
Romney’s run from his past left a lot of voters asking: Who is this guy? He says he believes certain things deeply now, but he believed other things deeply not that long ago. And each time, it seems, his deeply-held beliefs jibed with what was most advantageous politically.
And now that he has left the Republican race, the question remains. What was Romney thinking? No one outside a very, very tight circle knows. He is an extraordinarily disciplined man, and during the campaign he applied that discipline to making sure that he never said anything too revealing or that might be taken the wrong way. So if you were a reporter, or a supporter, or anyone other than his wife and perhaps his children, and you thought that Romney revealed something special and private to you, you were most likely wrong.
Given that, no one knew what meant the most to Romney. What were the core values that lay deep inside him, things that meant so much that he would give up everything for them? Voters want to know that about a president; they piece together an answer by watching a candidate over time. With Romney it was hard to tell, so they were left to guess. For what it’s worth, my guess is that at the core of Romney’s being is his church and his family; if Romney were asked to surrender all his worldly success for them, he would [...]
Church and family?—where does wanting to be our president come in?
Anyway, we harped on this weary string for months.
And yet the National Review endorsed this inscrutible non-entity.
“It would have been better for the nation if Mitt Romney had said he just wanted to spend more time with his family,” write the editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article titled A graceless Mitt Romney shows the nation how not to bow out of a race, reproduced in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Instead, the former Massachusetts governor, in dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, insulted the patriotism of most of the American electorate – and its intelligence as well.
In his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Romney said he was stepping aside because, ”I simply cannot let my campaign be part of aiding a surrender to terror.”
Both of the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Romney said, ”have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror: They would retreat, declare defeat.” For him to continue campaigning, he said, would ”forestall the launch of a national campaign, and frankly, I’d make it easier for Sen. Clinton or Obama to win.”
Even by today’s debased standards of political discourse, this borders on slander. Most Americans in both political parties have rejected President George W. Bush’s attempt to conflate the war in Iraq with the war on terrorism. Romney is bright enough to know the connection is dubious, but his comments suggest he’s craven enough to use it to curry favor with the party’s extreme right – just in case he wants to try again in 2012.
Yet it is exactly this sort of transparent, say-anything political opportunism that characterized and, ultimately, torpedoed Romney’s campaign. Time and again, he espoused positions that conflicted with views he had expressed previously – on abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, immigration and health-care reform. Those flip-flops, more than his Mormon faith, caused evangelical Christians in the GOP to be wary of him [...]
[...] Romney tried Thursday to compare his 2008 campaign with that of former California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1976. Reagan, although narrowly trailing President Gerald R. Ford in the delegate count, took his battle for the nomination to the August convention in Kansas City. But those were different times, when primaries and state party conventions lasted well into the summer. Reagan didn’t have to wage an expensive six-month campaign to stay in the race, as Romney would.
Reagan did emerge, however, as the party’s heir apparent, a slot Romney clearly covets. His withdrawal from this race gives him four years to polish his conservative credentials for the next one – or change them if that’s more expedient [...]
John Ellis in a RealClearPolitics article titled The Romney Campaign’s 5 Big Mistakes comments as well on Romney’s invocation of Reagan:
[...] Having mismanaged their candidate to political defeat, the Romney team added insult to injury by spinning his departure as reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s defeat in 1976. This is preposterous. Reagan electrified the conservative movement in 1964 with his televised address on behalf of Barry Goldwater. Reagan came within one endorsement — Strom Thurmond’s — of wresting away the Republican nomination from Richard Nixon in 1968. And when he arrived in Kansas City in the summer of 1976, he had carried any number of critical states by majority votes (and in some cases, by wide margins) in Republican primary elections. Reagan left the stage as a force because he was a force. Romney leaves the stage having carried Michigan and Massachusetts and a number of caucus states. And he leaves having given it his very best effort. But he does not leave as a force, because he is not yet a significant force in the Republican Party [...]
The emphases are ours, all ours.
The editorialists of The Kansas City Star concur with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an editorial titled Romney’s withdrawal clears way for GOP’s best candidate
[...] In ceding the Republican nomination to John McCain on Thursday, Mitt Romney did not blame his own inept campaign.
He did not blame inconsistencies between his campaign rhetoric and his record as governor of Massachusetts.
He did not blame intraparty religious squabbles that another candidate, Mike Huckabee, cynically encouraged.
No, Romney chose to blame his withdrawal on . . . the Democrats!
As Romney told it, Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama would “surrender” to our enemies abroad.
By prolonging the Republican nomination battle, Romney said, he would dangerously hobble McCain’s ability to attack the Democrats. “And in this time of war,” Romney said, “I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”
That’s quite a charge, reminiscent of Vice President Dick Cheney’s worst rhetorical excesses. In the last presidential campaign, for example, Cheney was widely mocked for his claim that voting for Democrats would raise the danger of another big terrorist attack on the United States.
A question for Romney: Whatever happened to simply congratulating the rival who beat you in a hard-fought primary battle?
Whether they count themselves as Democrats, Republicans or independents, many voters have tired of the bitter political partisanship they see in our national government.
So Romney’s statement Thursday provided further evidence of the tin ear that hurt his candidacy [...]
The reviews are in. Romney’s final tirade tanked. Romney departed us the same way he greeted us, disastrously.
“With Mitt Romney officially out of the race, it’s time for Republican strategist Alex Vogel to weigh in with his final Gramm-o-meter for the former Massachusetts governor,” writes Jonathan Weisman in Wapo blog burst for the The Trail titled Romney and the Gramm-o-meter
[...] Romney’s Super Tuesday finishes put his spending ratio well below Gramm’s 1996 record of $2.5 million. Vogel estimates that Romney finished his race having spent $309,439 per delegate.
By contrast, the campaigns of John McCain and Mike Huckabee, have been more efficient in their spending. Huckabee spent roughly $49, 649 per delegate; McCain’s spent $57,566 [...]
Yuh-huh.We harped on this string for months. But in his final hours as a candidate Romney was beginning however slowly to solve his ROI problem.
Too little, too late.
Ruffini: the failure of the Romney campign “challenges us to think differently about the movement, to junk the leader/follower model for a networked model that elevates real grassroots outside the Beltway over ‘grasstops’ and to find new ways of bringing low-information conservative voters into the fold”
“In fairness to Team Romney, they did more right than not,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a patrickruffini.com blog burst titled The Fall of Romney, Inc.
They rose from single digits in the national polls to receiving 32% of the primary votes cast to date. They became the conservative establishment’s choice.
They leveraged mechanical and resource superiority into solid leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, giving Rudy Giuliani pause about competing in the early states and chasing John McCain from Iowa. They leveraged their candidate’s mastery of pat, 60-second answers into dominance (and rising poll numbers) out of the first debates. They met their goal of winning Ames, and got a bump. They met their goal of 30,000 votes in the Iowa Caucus.
Comment: What is “mechanical superiority?”
Also, “leverage” implies that you get more back in return for what you invested, that you managed to get a lot for a little. But for Tribe Romney the opposite was always the case. Romney’s principle was always to invest superabundantly beyond what the moment demanded for the most meager ROI. But Romney’s consistent willingness to sacrifice all for almost nothing did “giv[e] Rudy Giuliani pause about competing in the early states and chas[ed] John McCain from Iowa.”
Back to Ruffini:
Nearly all of the benchmarks set by Romney, Inc. were met — and often with flying colors. They checked every box they needed to become the nominee. Practically everything the Romney campaign could keep under control, they did. But for a few thousand votes in New Hampshire, the conversation today would be dramatically different.
Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, goals and benchmarks are not the same as real-world outcomes. John McCain missed nearly all of his campaign’s benchmarks and yet will become the nominee.
The X-factor in translating a campaign’s technical mastery into victory is the candidate himself. And here, there was something missing.
Comment: yuh-huh. Here be the primary fixed point of the Romney post-mortems. The man as inauthentic.
I am attending CPAC this week. This is the same CPAC Mitt Romney put a huge effort into last year, paying some 200 students to come vote for him and likely providing his margin of victory over Rudy Giuliani (I know! Rudy once finished second at CPAC. Wild…). His speech last year was packed with every conservative insider’s code word imaginable. McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy — you name it [...]
Comment: Another code word from Romney’s ungracious CPAC tirade, or code date, was 1976, a suggestion that Romney believes that Sen. McCain will lose in the general in vindication of the assumptions of the Romney campaign, and that Romney plans to return in triumph in 2012.
[...] What Romney didn’t account for is that it would take more than being a CPAC, or Agenda Conservative to win the nomination. Country Music Conservatives — and frankly, most voters outside the Beltway swamp — don’t listen to your words; they listen to your tone of voice as you’re delivering those words. Do you get angry when you should? What’s your sense of humor like? For social conservatives, are you grounded in faith? And ultimately, are you the real deal?
This has nothing to do with being right on issues. It has everything to do with being authentic [...]
The problem for Romney: You cannot separate the issue from the issuer, the message from the messenger. We would argue that an apter term than authenticity would be ethos, i.e. Romney’s problem was not that he was inauthentic; Romney’s problem was that his life and character were inconsistent with the issues he alleged that he wanted to advance. This in itself became an issue, and a decisive one.
[...] Even those of us who are social conservatives rarely live in the rural South. And because of this cocooning, the conservative elite failed to understand how those voters could possibly have more in common with a Baptist minister with a Massachusetts millionaire. We can debate the LDS effect all we want, but even without it, Romney already had two strikes against him: that he was from the land of Kennedy and Kerry and acted like it, and that he was too white collar for a party that most of the bluebloods have left.
The idea that talk radio could paper over this basic demographic divide is almost comical. The leader/follower model of conservative support (get Rush, the talkers, the CPAC people, all the groups on your side, and in so doing win the hearts and minds of a decisive majority of conservatives) has been proven starkly and decisively wrong.
Despite these challenges, it was still a close call. As I said: a few thousand votes the other way in New Hampshire… But still: the ease with which John McCain won states like South Carolina and Florida has taken us all aback. It all boils down to Agenda Conservatives being nowhere near a majority of the party. Yes, John McCain was a weak frontrunner, but Mitt Romney was a weak challenger, and enough conservatives chose character and authenticity over issues to make the difference [...]
[...] At a minimum, [the Romney debacle] challenges us to think differently about the movement, to junk the leader/follower model for a networked model that elevates real grassroots outside the Beltway over “grasstops” and to find new ways of bringing low-information conservative voters into the fold [...]
Low information conservatives?
Note the disconnect Ruffini describes between doctrinaire conservatives—or “agenda” conservatives, as Ruffini puts it—and those who tend to vote conservative but live more rounded lives. It is this, and not authenticity, that predicts the failures of the Romney campaign. We will return to this theme later.