Posts Tagged ‘Glen Johnson’
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.
Romney as reported by Glen Johnson of the AP:
[...] I think 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 and for opportunities to link closer to lobbyists,” Romney said during a news conference [...]
[...] The multimillionaire [Romney] points to the more than $17 million in personal funds he has spent on the campaign and his public fundraising as proof he can govern free of Washington‘s special influences [...]
We comment on the naive and intuitive “third way” rhetoric of US self-funded, outsider campaigns elsewhere:
[...] U.S. self-funded outsider campaigns tend to articulate themselves in an intuitive, naive “third way,” “beyond right and left” rhetoric that describes a polity or a society, in weirdly medieval way, as an organic whole comprised of various components, e.g. towns, guilds, fueds, church, estates etc. Ross Perot and Romney both speak of “bringing together” government, labor, corporate interests, engineers, specialists, communities etc. to develop the consensus necessary to support policy solutions. Social problems become technical problems. Political questions become adminstrative tasks—e.g. Romney’s now infamous to-do list for Washington [...]
We wonder how the super-geniuses at the National Review—the knuckle draggers who endorsed Romney because of his—snarf!—guffaw!—steadfast and constant commitment to conservative principles—cough!—choke!—will explain away this. Ponnuru? Get to work.
When someone lies to us unabashedly it offends us. It is an insult to our intelligence when someone tells us that up is down or darkness is light. Now: Imagine the plight of the poor journalists assigned to follow the Romney campaign—those forced to endure one assault upon brute fact after another—as you watch this painful video.
From CBS News’ Scott Conroy:
“I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,” Romney said. “I don’t have lobbyists that are tied to my … ”
“That’s not true, governor!” Johnson suddenly interjected. “That is not true. Ron Kaufman is a lobbyist.”
Romney then issues a strained distinction to resolve the contradiction, a distinction that hinges on the term “run” (this quote is from Mike Allen of the Politico.com—the emphasis is ours, all ours):
“Did you hear what I said — did you hear what I said, Glen?” Romney replied. “I said, ‘I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,’ and he’s not running my campaign. He’s an adviser. And the person who runs my campaign is [campaign manager] Beth Myers, and I have a whole staff of deputy campaign managers.”
Apparently some woman named Beth Myers and her many deputies run Romney’s campaign, as she is Romney’s campaign director. And apparently what Romney meant by “running” was “running” in the technical sense of campaign administration.
Here be the problem: If this technical sense of the term “running”—as in plotting strategy, scheduling appearances etc., the sort of work that a campaign director would do—is the sense in which Romney meant that he had no lobbyists “running his campaign,” then no one, not anyone whether Republican or Democrat has lobbyists “running” their campaigns and Romney’s claim is meaningless on its face. It would be as meaningful saying that bears do not ride bicycles in the Romney campaign. (Well, do bears ride bicycles in any campaign?)
The Boston Herald’s Ms. Jessica Van Sack makes the case more elegantly:
[...] Romney’s argument basically came down to this: Kaufman’s not running my campaign – therefore, lobbyists don’t run my campaign. So, following Romney’s logic, if his campaign director isn’t a lobbyist, and every other campaign worker is a lobbyist, lobbyists still don’t aren’t running his campaign.
Folks, you can’t make this stuff up [...]
So Johnson’s rejoinder clearly has merit. Lobbyists do hold positions of influence in the Romney campaign—for example, Ron Kaufman. To insist that lobbyists are not running the Romney campaign in some technical sense is like saying that generals never fight wars; only soldiers fight wars.
We would like to offer a special blessing for the parents, the children, and the loved ones of one Mr. Glen Johnson of the Associated Press, a man possessed of integrity, a man who possesses soul.
“BLUFFTON, S.C. (AP) — Mitt Romney on Wednesday swapped talk of resurrecting the auto industry that helped him in Michigan with a pledge to pay attention to textile and other industrial job losses that have punished the South,” writes the estimable Glen Johnson in an Associated Press article titled Romney Pledges to Save Southern Economy
“You’ve seen it here, in furniture. You’ve seen the textile industry, where Washington watched, saw the jobs go and go,” the Republican presidential contender told a group of senior citizens at the Sun City Hilton Head Retirement Center.
“I’m not willing to declare defeat on any industry where we can be competitive. I’m going to fight for every job,” Romney said [...]
Yuh-huh. The protean Willard Milton has transmuted from an un-reconstructed and caricature-cartoon arch-conservative self-described Reaganite to a progressive-populist in the space of a single speech, his speech to the credulous rubes of the Detroit Economics Club, rubes very nearly as credulous and gullible as the dustpan-heads at the National Review who endorsed the hapless candidate, Willard Milton Romney.
Back to Johnson:
Later, during a news conference, the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged he may not always be successful, but he renewed his Rust Belt criticism of rival John McCain for suggesting some automotive jobs will not be replaced.
The Arizona senator has suggested Romney is pandering for votes and ignoring the realities of the global economy.
“Can I guarantee that we’ll be able to protect every industry and every job and be successful keeping every job?” Romney said to reporters. “I don’t think any person can make that guarantee. But I can guarantee that I’ll fight and do my best.”
We discuss the trope of “working hard for the American people” here.
South Carolina votes Saturday, and Romney’s trip south inspired a reassessment of his victory a night earlier in Michigan. That was the state where he was born, Romney’s father served as governor for three terms and where Romney himself pledged to do more than any other candidate to reduce the state’s nation-leading 7.4 percent unemployment rate [...]
For more on these sad themes:
- Romney in MI champions big business and big government partnership for the purpose of economic nationalism even as he funds Club for Growth attacks on Gov. Huckabee—oh, the cynicism
- 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
As we wrote elsewhere of this latest Romney incarnation:
[...] After humiliating defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney in Michigan finally develops a winning formula. It is a formula consistent with Romney’s risibly low ROI as it allows the hapless candidate to offload his astronomical costs on others. It is simply this: political spoil in its most primitive form. It takes this shape: Promise key sectors of the economy unlimited subsidies from the public treasury [...]
“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.
[...] “NPR reports that Mitt Romney is shaking up his staff today and taking more control himself,” writes Erick of Redstate.com in a blog burst titled Sources Say
Also, I hear from multiple sources that he has shifted some staff around, pulling people from Florida and sending them to Michigan [...]
Loses learn. This is one of the uses of adversity. Not so Team Romney, we used to argue, because Romney’s vast personal fortune insulates Team Romney from the costs of its failures.
But now there is evidence that the Romney is attempting to rationalize its organization and its operations. This could allow them to, you know, develop a message that connects with voters.
“Mitt Romney hasn’t extended his television presence into next week in South Carolina and Florida, an aide confirms,” writes Jonathan Martin of the politico.com in a blog burst titled Mitt not re-upping his S.C. and Fla. TV time
Romney has been on TV for months in both states, owning the airwaves long before his GOP rivals purchased their first spots.
But his multimillion-dollar investment in the two key states that may ultimately decide the GOP nominee has not paid off as he continues to lag behind rivals there.
Spokesman Kevin Madden declined to say whether their decision was based upon strategy or money [...]
[...] Ten days before South Carolina and 20 before Florida it’s difficult to see why he’d go dark in either crucial state, unless he’s decided to limit how much of his own cash he’s using on what has so far been a disappointing campaign.
UPDATE: Another indication that Romney is easing back on the self-funding — an adviser tells AP’s Glen Johnson that they recognize that their ad campaign wasn’t terribly effective and that now they’re going to focus on earned media. Also known as free media [...]
Martin interprets this move as weakness.
We interpret it as strength, amazing strength, strength combined with a stern resolve. Viz.: Romney has the money. So this is not the voice of grim necessity. Rather: This is a rational choice, a sober choice, and the correct choice.
These corrections suggest a more accurate interpretation of the upcoming contests and the players involved. These corrections also suggest a more accurate assessment of what is achievable and for what cost. Here is the money quote from the Glen Jonhson AP article that Martin links to:
[...] Conceding Romney had been hurt by a backlash against the hard-hitting television commercials the former Massachusetts governor ran against Huckabee and McCain, the adviser said the campaign hoped to “get away from the paid media and get more of the earned media.”
The shift would suggest a greater emphasis on generating newspaper, Internet and television coverage, especially in Michigan, where Romney was born and which is next on the primary calendar on Jan. 15. Romney flies to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday after a fundraiser in Boston [...]
A targeted, earned-media strategy will allow Team Romney to correctly assess the effectiveness of their messages. The data and experience that accrues from their efforts can help them increase their ROI and develop more effective messages. They will have at last organized themselves into a learning loop more closely coupled to their audiences and sources of support. They will in the very least be be spending less which will improve their image. In other words, they will have caught up with the other campaigns.
However: In the same article, Johnson also reports this:
[...] Nonetheless, Romney chided McCain and Huckabee for cherry-picking contests, with Huckabee having focused on Iowa while McCain focused on New Hampshire. Romney spent more than $7 million on advertising in each state, and held as many, if not more, events in both places than any of his GOP rivals [...]
But reports are that Romney is withdrawing staff from SC and FL to invest in MI. Also: reports indicate that Romney is scaling back his ad buys in SC and FL. In other words, Romney too has learned to cherry-pick. As we have argued elsewhere, what Romney calls “cherry-picking” is the most rational strategy in an election cycle with no clear coalition. Politics specifies itself in space—demography, geography, and ideology all intertwine and pass into one another—to build a coalition from the ground up you need to first establish a regional base.
The other candidates have staked out the parts of the map they want to contest. (The first candidate to recognize and act on the new reality was Mayor Giuliani. His strategy has yet to encounter its first real contest.)
Romney has yet to do that.
But: Evidence indicates that he now moves in that direction.
P.S. Hypothetical questions: What if Romney were to campaign on who he is instead of an invented Romney? What if Romney were to organize a rational and ethical campaign? What if Romney were to cease his grimly negative campaigning?
Answer: the governing assumptions of this web log would be all, and in an instant, overturned. And we would be forced to admit that this was the case or risk being accused of being irrational ourselves. At that moment we truly would become a Blog for Mitt as we would no longer have a case against a Romney presidency.
Question: Is such an outcome even possible?
Go Mitt!—i.e. stop lying, stop shape-shifting, stop sliming other candidates, and stop spending money that you did not raise through your own hard efforts, and go and be our President.
“BOSTON – As a presidential contender, Mitt Romney has the looks, the money and the campaign machine. He also has something of a candor gap,” writes the estimable Glen Johnson for the Associated Press in an article titled Analysis: Romney and candor
When confronted with questions that might conflict with his message of the day or political record, the Republican candidate has shown a tendency to bob and weave or simply dismiss history. He has done so all year, providing an easy target for his opponents.
“If you aren’t being honest in obtaining the job, can we trust you if you get the job?” Romney rival Mike Huckabee asked on Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
This past week, Romney did it again over questions about whether he was planning to air negative ads — in particular on the subject of illegal immigration — against John McCain. The Arizona senator has been surging in New Hampshire, where Romney is angling for back-to-back victories after a hoped-for win in this week’s Iowa caucuses … etc., etc.
“For some time, Rudy Giuliani has justifably been considered the Republican frontrunner, though not a terribly convincing one,” writes Paul of the Power Line blog in a despairing missive titled A New Republican Frontrunner?
As Giuliani continues to slip slowly in the polls, I’m beginning to think that Mitt Romney can now claim this (perhaps dubious) distinction.
That’s because Romney is looking more and more like the choice of mainstream conservatives. The best evidence is the National Review endorsement. As John noted, while endorsements generally aren’t worth much, this one has value. More importantly, National Review’s analysis may well exemplify (rather than influence) the thinking of a critical mass of conservatives. In the past month or two, a number of my most conservative friends have come around to supporting Romney for basically the same reasons National Review cited. Today, we learn that the estimable Michael Novak has, as well.
Romney would have sealed the deal with mainstream conservatives much earlier, but for the moderate to liberal positions he took on key social issues as a Massachusetts politician. When those positions came to light, many conservatives backed off, waiting for an alternative. Some evangelicals eventually found that alternative in Mike Huckabee. I’m thinking that a majority of conservatives as a whole are going to bite the bullet and go with Romney (personally, I’m still undecided) … etc.
Note Paul’s tenor of dark despair. Yet even shrieking-Romney-partisans like Jimmy Bopp issue the same ambivalent, compromising, hold-your-nose-and-vote-Romney line of argument:
We concur with Paul. There is movement—halting, half-stepping, grudging and reluctant movement—toward the equivocal figure of Romney. But this movement registers mostly among party elites and the center-right commentariat, many of whom have been bought and paid for, and many of whom will soon be bought and paid for.
Here is the critical question: Will Republicans—real Republicans, Republicans with lives, families, and jobs—surrender the dignity of principle and drink the kool-aid offered by the GOP elites? There is precedent for hope. Those on the ground have broken with their elites and bolted before when confronted by Romney:
So: We shall see.
Whatever comes, we do not expect that Romney will accept the will of the party as expressed in its primary contests with grace and equanimity—and neither does Glen Johnson of the Associated Press who issues his warning in the form of a story titled Analysis: Romney Won’t Go Quietly
BOSTON (AP) – Mitt Romney has worked relentlessly to win the Republican presidential nomination for the past three years, and if he’s going down, it won’t be without a fight.
Branded by some as an elite Northeasterner, he plunged deep into the heart of Texas – with handshakes and hugs from the first President Bush and wife Barbara – to address questions about his Mormon faith.
After rival Mike Huckabee suggested Romney’s religion says Jesus and the devil are brothers, Romney went on national television to try a rhetorical haymaker: “Attacking someone’s religion is really going too far.”
And the candidate whose matinee looks and ramrod posture exude a civilized charm showed he isn’t afraid to get down and dirty: He said if the former Arkansas governor wants to carry the front-runner mantle Romney bore for so long in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’d better be ready for the scrutiny that comes with it.
Romney was happy to help that scrutiny along by airing the first negative ad of the GOP campaign in Iowa, a spot this week highlighting Huckabee’s record on illegal immigration. The former Massachusetts governor would not rule out focusing on prison commutations Huckabee issued while in office.
“I frankly think that the more people come to know about Mike Huckabee, the more they realize they don’t know about Mike Huckabee,” Romney said Thursday in Muscatine, Iowa. “I’m going to make it very clear in every way I can to contrast my views on key issues with those of Governor Huckabee. He’s the front-runner and so I want to describe how we’re different on those issues that people care about.”
All this looks very familiar to Shannon O’Brien, the last person to go one-on-one with Romney in an election.
O’Brien was the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Massachusetts. Romney faced her after elbowing aside the acting governor of his own party, Republican Jane Swift, to grab the GOP nomination.
“I think that he learned his lesson running against Ted Kennedy,” O’Brien said. “He ran negative ads against me before I was even the nominee.”
She recalled the 1994 battle in which Romney, then a political upstart, posed the strongest re-election challenge of Kennedy’s career before the senator unloaded with TV ads and surrogates who questioned Romney’s business record and fitness to serve.
O’Brien says now, “Mitt Romney has demonstrated, given the radical flip-flops he has taken from the time he ran for governor to this presidential race now, he will do what it takes to win” … etc.
Whatever it takes.
“(BOSTON) — Republican Mitt Romney retorted to questions about his faith by surging rival Mike Huckabee on Wednesday, declaring that “attacking someone’s religion is really going too far,” reports Glen Johnson of the Associated Press in a story titled, unbelievably, Romney: “Attacks on Religion Go Too Far”
Apparently what Romney meant to say was that “attacks on Romney’s religion go too far.” See:
Ijaz: “[Romney] is lying now to the American people—also: the former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, Irma Aguirre, has gone on public record claiming that “Romney discounted appointing Muslims to his cabinet on more than just the one occasion”
“AP’s Glen Johnson and Liz Sidoti have news of the first negative ad to air in the GOP race,” writes Jonathan Martin of the Politico in a post titled Romney to hit Huck on immigration in Iowa
Who: Mitt on Huck
When: Starting tomorrow
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden tells me that the spot “clarifies the distinct differences between Governor Romney and Mike Huckabee on the issue of immigration.”
UPDATE: I’ve gotten my hands on the ad itself, “The Record.”
Note the gentle lead-in. Romney’s camp plainly recognizes the danger of going negative in Iowa, so they go to considerable length to frame the attack with what is both a nod of respect to Huckabee and a sly effort at dulling the differences between the two on cultural issues.
Then comes the knife, aimed squarely at Huck’s support for providing the children of illegal immigrants tuition breaks … etc.
Landscaper: Romney Never Insisted Employees Be Legal—as reported by Fox News. The landscaper who Mitt Romney fired earlier this week for continuing to employ illegal immigrants says the termination boils down to little more than politics.
“Romney doesn’t deserve “amnesty” for this recurring lapse in judgment,” writes Ruben Navarrette in a RealClearPolitics.com story titled Romney Makes It Hard to Trust Him
And for two reasons:
First, there is the hypocrisy. Millions of Americans benefit from the sweat of illegal immigrants – directly or indirectly – but Romney is the one trying to score political points off these people. As if illegal immigrants don’t do enough, they are now fodder to help put Mitt Romney in the Oval Office.
And second, there is the issue of authenticity. Romney may have tripped up in his effort to fool Republican voters into believing that he’s a real conservative – on abortion, gun control, gay rights and now on illegal immigration – and that he takes to heart the concerns of conservative voters.
Romney desperately needs to sell that line, especially in conservative states such as Iowa where Republican voters at town halls demand to know how candidates will stop illegal immigration. And if Iowans are like many other Americans, after they’ve said their peace, they retreat to their homes to watch cable television demagogues and wring their hands over the “invasion” while someone else does the yardwork, or the housework, or the child care, or the cooking … etc., etc.