Posts Tagged ‘ideological cross-dresser’
“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.
[...] “I have covered a lot of presidential campaigns, and I can’t think of one that so lost its way-so expensively-as that of the former governor of Massachusetts,” writes Howard Fineman in a newsweek.com article titled Burying Mitt; Romney failed because he ran as something he’s not
A board room and business favorite, a man with a Midas managerial touch, he was widely admired and even beloved. But he was a Republican of an old moderate school-that of his own father-and, like George W. Bush, Romney the Younger decided that he had to jettison all that he was to become something that he was not.
And so it was that this square peg spent perhaps $80 million-including at least $30 million of his own money-trying to pound himself into a round hole. It didn’t work. The irony of his failed campaign: if he had just stuck to selling his managerial mettle, he might well have won the nomination, given the way the country’s economic anxieties have become voters’ number one concern.
Even as conservative radio talk-show hosts reluctantly settled on him as their savior, they were uneasy about it and about his previous record of social moderation and fiscal flexibility. They sold him hard in the last few weeks, but to no avail. Romney won his home state and the states in the West where Mormonism was familiar, but not much else.
The quality of being genuine is hard to convey, and deciding who should be president based solely on that basis can lead to disaster; you need brains and an ability to go with the flow as well. But voters know a phony above all and Romney came off as one from the get-go. Over the last decade he had changed his views in a rightward direction on so many issues to suit what he thought he needed to win the GOP nomination that he ended up standing for nothing but his own ambition [...]
More on this theme from Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times staff writer, in an LA Times article titled Romney failed the ‘authentic’ test; The GOP establishment had high hopes for the former Massachusetts governor, but among voters he never overcame charges that he had flip-flopped his way through his political career
WASHINGTON — For many Republican insiders, it was love at first sight: Mitt Romney had an exquisite resume, a command of the issues and boatloads of money to finance a presidential campaign. As Romney started wooing support in Washington, some lawyers and lobbyists were so smitten that they endorsed him after meeting him only once or twice.
But the collapse of Romney’s campaign contains an important reminder that what impresses in political backrooms does not always impress voters. A long list of political assets, and the support of party leaders, is not enough to make up for a failure to connect with voters and to deliver a clear, consistent message.
Although much of the Republican establishment called him an authentic conservative, Romney, in his appeals to voters, never overcame charges that he had flip-flopped his way through his political career — on abortion, gay rights and other issues of importance to those he was hoping to win over.
“People fundamentally understand where John McCain and Mike Huckabee are coming from. But in Mitt Romney’s case, that was harder to discern,” said Terry Holt, an advisor to President Bush’s 2004 campaign. “There is too much uncertainty about who Mitt Romney really is” [...]
Yet more on this theme from Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com release titled Romney’s screen test falls flat
WASHINGTON — Throughout his 18-month bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney tried his best to play the part.
He looked the part, with his perfectly coifed hair and crisp blue suits. He sounded the part, shaping his stump speech around cries to reinstate Reagan’s three pillars of the Republican party. And he acted the part, spending nearly a year campaigning heavily in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
But in the end, Mr. Romney didn’t fit the part. Amid cries from critics of changing stances on key issues, the former governor of Massachusetts never connected with voters. He devised a message that alienated party stalwarts. And although he was the first to air negative ads against opponents in Iowa, the millionaire investor proved weak at blocking his rivals’ last-minute punches.
The result: a dismal performance in the coast-to-coast primaries on Tuesday, the moment that Mr. Romney, who lost Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, needed to shine. The passion he lacked on the campaign trail instead came during his concession speech, when he suspended his candidacy. Fighting back emotion, he told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference here that he was withdrawing “for our party and our country.”
Mitt Romney stepped out of the race Thursday, saying that by staying in the race he “would be aiding a surrender to terror.”
From the beginning, Mr. Romney had much to prove. With little name recognition, he was known as “the Mormon” candidate with a pro-choice past. As a result, Mr. Romney, co-founder of private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC, approached the race as a science, not an art. After Mr. Romney began publicly discussing a bid in late 2006, his advisers drew up a list of benchmarks and went about devising a schedule to reach those goals. In the process, they overlooked the need to ignite passion and fire [...]
Please note the contradictions in these accounts. The same man spent nearly US$40 million dollars on his own money on his campaign, went so viciously negative on his rivals that they concerted their efforts against him, and in the end planned to engineer a brokered convention and nullify the expressed views of the primary voters by targeting promised but technically unbound delegates—yet Romney lacked passion or fire?
The man nearly tried to pull a Guy Fawkes on the GOP and he lacked fire?
[...] “Mr Romney’s best showing came in Michigan, where his father had been a popular governor, and where he backed extra help for the hard-pressed car industry,” writes the estimable Steve Schifferes in a BBC news release titled Why Mitt Romney quit the race
But ironically, as the economy became the dominant issue in the election, even among Republicans, Mr Romney did not gain the expected boost from his business background.
Instead, he was attacked by Mr McCain and Mr Huckabee as a business executive who had little sympathy for the average worker and his troubles.
Mr Romney’s role as head of the consultancy Bain left him with plenty of money to finance his own presidential campaign, and he never faced the fundraising difficulties of Mr McCain and Mr Huckabee.
He was also able to mobilise the support of many right-wing Republican commentators who have played a key role in mobilising grassroots activists in the party.
But the failure of his well-financed campaign to galvanize that base means that the Republican right now lacks a credible standard bearer to fight its cause.
Mr Romney’s lukewarm endorsement of Mr McCain, whom he praised only for his stand on Iraq, shows that the Republican civil war has not ended with his retirement from the field.
Mr Romney said he was standing down in the best interests of his party.
But in the end, his comfortable circumstances may have meant he did not have the fire in his belly to continue what looked like an increasingly hopeless campaign [...]
The emphasis is ours, all ours.
[...] “In a measure of just how dire the situation is for the campaign, Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing the existence of three different categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised to someone but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT The Caucus blog burst titled Romney Prepared to Keep On Going
They are mapping out a farfetched possibility premised on conservative fears continuing to fester against Mr. McCain, which they hope fuels a series of wins for Mr. Romney and then perhaps get him to a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.
Mr. Romney appeared to even allude to this potential route in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the contest “all the way to the convention.”
“There’s a whole lot of scenarios that get us there,” Tagg Romney said [...]
Yeahright. A lot of scenarios. More than ever. Possibilities everywhere. Options abound. But the scenario Tagg Romney suggests is singular, pointed, clear, and perilous. It consists in an attempt to nullify the expressed counsel of Republican primary voters—i.e. the returns of the primary contests themselves—by turning-around promised but technically not bound party delegates. It also consists in continuing to drive up Sen. John McCain’s negatives to undermine any claim the man has to being electable in November, as Luo indicates below:
[...] Tagg Romney also seemed to allude to his father’s continued willingness to pour his own money into his presidential bid, saying the campaigning hope is that conservative alarm about Mr. McCain continues to grow, allowing the campaign to still “fund-raise outside as well as from my dad and make this a real battle” [...]
So, what should we call Romney’s newest and probably boldest yet hare-brained scheme? We haven’t decided yet. But think about it, friends, fans, and well-wishers. Romney is supposed to be a dispassionate android number-cruncher problem-solver, a man of facts, data, and detail, a man of argument and not affect, a man of reason and not rebellion. So why is Romney behaving like a desperate out-of-control wannabee Captain Ahab or Richard III, i.e. a drastic figure willing to sacrifice everything and everyone? What in this man’s past would have predicted this? And what else do we not know about Romney?
Who, we would ask again, is Willard Milton Romney?
“Mitt Romney knew John McCain would be a tough competitor on Super Tuesday,” writes Michael Levenson in a http://www.boston.com article titled After tough Tuesday, Romney forces to meet on next steps
What he didn’t count on was Mike Huckabee’s strong showing, which stopped Romney from staying close to McCain in the delegate chase for the nomination.Romney, however, vowed to continue on stay in the race, and his spokesman played down Huckabee’s victories.
‘‘A Southern candidate who appeals on social issues had an appeal to a Southern constituency on social issues,’’ spokesman Kevin Madden said last night. ‘‘It’s not a surprise.’’
The contrast between them is clear, he said.
‘‘The case we’re going to make to Republican voters is that Governor Romney is the full spectrum conservative, whereas Mike Huckabee is only a social conservative’’ [...]
Note that Romney compares himself favorably to Gov. Huckabee, not Sen. McCain. Conclusion: Romney assumes that Gov. Huckabee split the conservative vote. So his message is to Gov. Huckabee voters in particular and conservatives and value voters in general.
We disagree with this assumption. And so do others.
Back to Levenson:
Romney and his inner circle plan to huddle today at the campaign’s North End headquarters and consider their next steps [...]
Oh, what we would not give to be allowed to stand in that huddle, shoulder to shoulder with the mighty men (and women) of valor who have delivered Romney triumph upon triumph. John King and Dana Bash of CNN’s Political ticker also harp on the string of Romney’s Wednesday morning huddle in a post titled Romney set to huddle with top advisors
[...] “It is tough to saddle up this AM,” said one top Romney adviser who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Romney has poured more than $35 million of his personal fortune into the campaign, and after a rough Super Tuesday faces a decision of whether to spend more. Several advisers said there was a plan, in place before the Tuesday votes were counted, to begin advertising in the Washington, DC and Baltimore markets. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia hold primaries next Tuesday.
“As of early this AM it was a go,” said one of the campaign sources. “We can do the math but there are still openings,” said another.
The official agenda for the meeting was discussion strategy though the March 4 GOP contests. Romney has no public events scheduled and aides say there are, at the moment, no plans for any public statement. An address to a major conservative gathering in Washington is planned for Thursday; McCain is also addressing the group [...]
Here be the problem: there is pressure developing from every direction—party elites, media, punditry, even from within Team Romney itself—to withdraw now that a clear front-runner has finally emerged. The political primitives of Team Romney are faced with the daunting task of developing and disseminating a new rationale for the Romney campaign in light of yesterday’s losses. At the moment the message is “I am the full spectrum conservative; Gov. Huckabee is but a half-formed, only partially realized conservative.” We shall see how long they can hold their diminished position on the strength of so limp an argument. Here is the reasoning that the finest minds that Romney can buy must rebut, refute, or counter with their own narrative:
[...] “The Super Tuesday shake out has left Arizona Sen. John McCain riding high with more than twice as many delegates as GOP rival Mitt Romney, who despite spending millions of dollars of his personal fortune was left out in the cold yesterday,” writes Jessica Fargen in a news.bostonherald.com release titled Pundits: Romney may be out soon
McCain, who won the big-delegate state of California, has 613 delegates, followed by former Bay State Gov. Romney with 269 and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 190 delegates, according to the Associated Press. It takes 1,191 to win the GOP nomination.
“I think Romney will probably not be in the race that much longer,” said Republican media consultant Todd Domke, who is not affiliated with any GOP campaign. “He performed below expectations. Romney has rasied the expectations so high that when he failed it was all the more devastating” [...]
In other words, once again Romney outflanked Romney—i.e. the campaign botched its own expectations game. Sen. McCain’s campaign adds its own voice to the chorus in the form of a memo, as reported by Jessica Van Sack in a bostonherald.com Presidential Briefings blog burst titled McCain internal memo leaves Romney for dead
From the memo:
[...] Senator McCain went into Super Tuesday with nearly a two-to-one lead in the Delegate count. He ends Super Tuesday (unofficially) with nearly 750 delegates in his column (estimates based on proportionally divided states and unofficial returns) while Romney has only 236, just a few ahead of Huckabee. Our unofficial count shows Mitt Romney trails by 510 delegates. As of today, more than 1400 delegates have been assigned or decided through primary or caucus contests.
The remaining contests account for roughly 963 delegates. For Mitt Romney to match our delegate count, he would have to win more than 50% of those delegates. And, he would have to win nearly every single delegate still available in order to become the nominee. And, many of these contests are proportional, so Mitt will have to win by big margins in many states to garner every last delegate. For example, in this weekend’s Louisiana Primary, he would have to win the with more than 50% of the vote in order to win (1191 delegates to win, 963+236=1,199) [...]
The super-duper apocalypse Tuesday contests have passed into their archival phase. Now the struggle becomes what to make of the data that the voters and caucus goers returned when they were asked to express their views on the candidates with their ballots or other means. Sen. McCain’s message: The process is over. Allow me to address the several blocs that make up the base of the party and attempt to develop grounds for going forward together. And Romney’s message so far today? The conservative base has yet to speak. And when they do, they will speak through me. I am the authentic conservative.
Only here is the problem for Romney: the conservatives have already spoken. In contest after contest, they issued their ruling on Romney’s clumsy and caricatured, unreconstructed, newly acquired conservatism. Their answer to Romney’s call was simply not the answer that Team Romney wanted to hear.
“ATLANTA — Mitt Romney is leading a citizen revolution, or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days as he has tries to right his bid for the Republican nomination,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Meet the New Mitt Romney, the Anti-Insider Populist
It may seem an unlikely role for a PowerPoint-loving, buttoned-down multimillionaire, but there Mr. Romney was, on stage Monday here in his starched white shirt and tie, raising his voice to be heard above the crowd and portraying himself as the anti-establishment insurgent.
“It’s time for the politicians to go and the citizens to come into Washington!” he said, drawing a roar from the several hundred gathered at his feet [...]
[...] It was in New Hampshire that he settled on a theme about Washington’s being broken and his ability to bring change.
But with Mr. McCain now threatening to run away with the nomination, Mr. Romney has melded the old with the new, lobbing conservative grenades once again while talking about change. His latest script is calculated to sound the alarm over the prospect of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee.
“In our party right now, there’s a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said, addressing an enthusiastic audience on Sunday at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a rock-ribbed Republican suburb of Chicago. “Which way are we going to go? Are we going to take a sharp left turn in our party, get as close as we can to Hillary Clinton, without being Hillary Clinton?” [...]
[...] Conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have thrown their support behind him or sharply criticized Mr. McCain, something that Mr. Romney now regularly cites.
Their influence, he said, helped lead him to victory in the Maine caucuses over the weekend.
“All the power structure was behind him,” Mr. Romney said in Glen Ellyn, in reference to Mr. McCain. “But you know what? Conservative voices on talk radio and news magazines, they got behind me and said, ‘This guy Romney’s the guy’ ” [...]
[...] Mr. Romney has been making more of an effort to cultivate the news media as part of his refashioned candidacy. When he sauntered back onto a flight on Saturday, he broke the ice with an unusual remark.
“What did they say in ‘Star Wars?’ ” he asked. “What’s that line? ‘There’s nothing happening here. These droids aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ ”
Eric Fehrnstrom, his traveling press secretary, said it had actually been rendered: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”
“These are not the droids you’re looking for,” Mr. Romney said. “Sorry” [...]
So why has Romney suddenly recast himself from android data-cruncher, problem-solver into an outraged everyman Howard Beale figure? Bryan Dumont, a guest contributer to Virtual Vantage Points offers us a clue. His conclusions are based on an APCO World Wide emotional factors analysis of the GOP and Democratic candidates. Says Dumont:
[...] On the Republican side, McCain has a stronger link with voters on all the nine emotional dimensions essential to building a strong brand relationship. However, he has a slightly weaker link on Approachability, relative to other key emotional factors. Compared to other emotional dimensions, Huckabee’s key emotional strength is building a sense of Identification with Republican voters. Meanwhile, the Emotional Factor tool indicates that Republican voters have yet to connect to Romney on an emotional level. He falls far behind all of the other Republican candidates on every emotional dimension [...]
From the APCO study itself:
[...] Gov. Mitt Romney has the weakest emotional connection with GOP voters overall. Romney is also building weaker emotional links with his supporters than the other candidates are with their supporters. Our study indicates that Romney has a particular vulnerability on Warmth—described as a sense of personal admiration and fondness [...]
[...] All of the nine emotional dimensions are fairly equal in their impact in driving voters’ candidate preferences. However, among both Democratic and Republican likely voters, Relevance is the most important emotional driver. Building a sense that the candidate “fits who I am” and “speaks to me” is the most important emotional link in driving voter choice; while Approachability and Familiarity are less decisive. Republican voters are slightly more driven by Pride in their candidates than Democratic voters as a deciding factor in how to vote [...]
The emphases are ours, all ours.
Comment: Yuh-huh. So Romney’s “anti-insider populism” is Romney’s absurdist, fantasy-land solution to the problem of how to develop an emotional connection with voters. It is a play for Relevance, however misguided. This is beyond farce. This is risible on its face. This is vanity politics.
Oh, and by the way, according to Wonkosphere, Romney has dropped to less than half of Sen. John McCain’s buzz share on the very eve of super-duper apocalypse Tuesday.
Romney descends to 12; Sen. McCain remains steady at 30.
[...] “Lots of talk in the media about McCain vs. The Mighty Wombats of Talk Radio,” writes the insipid Richelieu in an insipid Campaign Standard blog burst titled Richelieu: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene
Ask President Tancredo about that one. The talkers can raise an issue to prominence, they can entertain, but they do not really deliver actual votes. Sorry Rush [...]
That should be “Sorry Romney.“
Still, however, Romney wants to capitalize on the new love radiating from talk radio
[...] “It might be preaching to the choir, but the members of this choir are precisely the people Mitt Romney needs to stop John McCain from getting a stranglehold on the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday,” writes the estimable Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, ina http://www.boston.com blog burst titled Romney puts ad on Limbaugh show
Romney aired an ad today on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that excoriates McCain’s record on taxes and immigration.
“John McCain, he’s been in Washington a long time,” the announcer says, before the ad cites conservative commentators and the National Review.
Limbaugh, while not explicitly endorsing Romney, has been warning his listeners for weeks that McCain’s nomination would destroy the Republican Party. He repeated those warnings again today. Romney and McCain have been sparring over who is the true conservative [...]
The always a little baffled and befuddled Ed Morrissey laments what he foresees as a growing rift between the media figure of the right-wing shock jock and the Republican Party:
[...] But this showdown isn’t just about the media. It looks like the first really open GOP primary in decades will test a couple of widespread assumptions. First, does conservative talk radio have the influence that many presume to impact an election? Second, if it does not, what will that say about the future of conservative talk radio?
The answer to the first question will, I think, demonstrate that listeners have never been the monolithic, Clone Army style force that its critics presume. While they appreciate and enjoy the programs, listeners think for themselves. Anyone who spends any time at all listening knows the diversity of opinion unleashed through the call-in lines. Having spent time behind the mike as Hugh’s replacement on occasion, I can tell you that the callers are smart, informed, and sometimes have a much different opinion than me or Hugh.
So the answer to the second question follows from there. People will continue to listen to talk radio as they always have — for entertainment, information, and debate. The hosts will influence the opinions of the listeners, but they’re independent and will go their own way.
I expect that the hosts will change some minds before Tuesday. I expect the endorsements of the party’s establishment figures to do the same. In the end, most of the voters will make their decision based on their own logic, as they usually do. However, there will be one part of the showdown that may not survive, and that is the affinity of the conservative hosts for the Republican Party as an entity for conservative values. For that, High Noon has been a long time coming, and a McCain win may have some activists feeling very forsaken [...]
We grieve for those forsaken activists. We truly do.
Morrissey does understand the distinction between the activities of corporate content providers and the task of political parties, right?—the one is not the propaganda arm of the other. And if the one—or elements among the one—elect to promote a faction within the GOP at the expense of a governing coalition, then it deserves whatever it gets. The party is not the movement; the movement is not the party. And talk radio is neither party nor movement; it is information, entertainment, and opinion provided by organizations whose business is business.
Our prediction: our brothers and sisters in talk radio will soon learn why journalists and other media figures cherish the integrity that a sense of independence confers on them.
Meanwhile, Michael Graham of the NRO muses on the Sen. John McCain nomination that hasn’t happened yet, and answers the question that Morissey never posed but should have:
[...] John McCain didn’t win this nomination. Everyone else lost it. Mitt Romney had every chance — and then some — to win this nomination. He campaigned hard, and with lots of money, in every key primary state. And in every key state where his father never served as governor, he lost. He came, he saw (and was seen), and he got 31% of the vote. He wasn’t defeated by McCain. He’s just a mediocre candidate” [...]
This isn’t about talk radio. Nor should it ever have been. This is not even about the conservative movement. Note to Morrissey: Romney is not the conservative movement. The conservative movement is not Romney. Conservatism is for Romney a means to an end and that end is power.
This is, and has always been, about Romney, a surpassingly mediocre candidate.