Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’
“There appears to be a rather noticeable problem with the Stepford candidate’s — former Gov. Mitt Romney — ability to demonstrate basic memory dexterity,” writes The Editor for the Palmetto Scoop in a post titled Major glitch in Romneybot’s memory mechanism
Romney told voters at a pancake house in Pawleys Island, “the United Nations has been an extraordinary failure of late,” and that, “we should withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council.” But the Associated Press noted, “the United States doesn’t have a seat on the human rights council, which it has been boycotting.”
And then, FITSNews picked up on a pair of statements given to national and local media by Romney’s national spokesman Kevin Madden and his S.C. campaign manager Terry Sullivan in response to a jab made by rival candidate Sen. John McCain … etc., etc.
We reported the FITSnews howler here: FITSNews on Romney’s SC campaign manager: “FETCHING COFFEE, DRY CLEANING MAY ALSO BE AMONG HIS WEIGHTY
eye of eyeon08.com’s take is titled: Earth to Romney: We aren’t on the Human Rights Council
Eric Kleefiled’s take: Romney: USA Should Withdraw From UN Human Rights Council — America Already Boycotts It
Jim Davenport’s far less funny take: Romney calls United Nations a ‘failure’
“On paper, Mitt Romney seems the most attractive G.O.P. contender,” writes the fantastically insightful Jennifer Rubin in a NY Observer Op Ed titled Romney Can’t Believe He’s Losing to These Guys
He has business and executive experience, a fine family and no connection to the “Washington mess.”
Yet his chance to win the nomination is slipping away. His national poll numbers barely hit double digits, his New Hampshire lead is vanishing, and he’s spending millions of dollars just to keep afloat.
As he stood next to Fred Thompson at the Dearborn debate looking puzzled, one was reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit in which the Michael Dukakis character looked at the George H. W. Bush figure and said incredulously, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.”
There are several popular explanations, ranging from his now-renounced liberal past to his religion, but it is also something more fundamental than any of that: Mitt Romney is the least adept politician in the field and comes across as the least in tune to Republicans’ dominant concerns.
In interacting with voters, he often appears to be at a shareholders’ meeting, impatiently waiting out an obstreperous protestor so he can resume his prepared remarks.
In New Hampshire’s Red Arrow Diner earlier this year, he seemed unmoved as a waitress described her family’s medical difficulties, robotically informing her of his Massachusetts medical plan’s low deductibles.
And when he has been forced to think on his feet, he has displayed a remarkable tone-deafness. His “let the lawyers sort it out” answer to a question at a New Hampshire debate about the need to consult Congress about stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, a perfectly corporate approach to a nettlesome problem, was a perfectly awful answer. As all three of his major rivals piled on, he stubbornly insisted for days that his answer was just fine until forced to write an explanatory letter to The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Romney has also made a fetish of checking the policy boxes for social conservatives and rolling out a slew of policy papers with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Voters soon sense that he has many ideas but little gravitas. He has lots of pitches—the “three-legged stool” of conservative values, “change” and “private sector experience”—but no overarching theme or core. If Mr. Giuliani is tough and Mr. Thompson is soothing, what is he?
Making matters worse, his manicured appearance and cautious language (he really likes “apparently”) fail to convey a robust commander in chief profile that conservatives crave. Promising to “double” the size of Guantanamo seems a comical attempt to keep pace with his more macho rivals.
As a result, Mr. Romney has the highest unfavorable rating of any candidate. He doesn’t seem to like his audience much, and they don’t like him … etc., etc.
The emphases are ours.
No theme. No core. No message. None. Nothing. Nothing but garbled noise. Who is Romney’s national communications director?—and why can’t he or she communicate!?
At last: journalists, editorialists, analysts—i.e. the media—are beginning to notice and to elaborate upon themes that we’ve been developing for months and months. Conclusion: Romney doesn’t like his audience, i.e. us. Anyone who has ever met the man can sense it. Anyone who has ever seen the man can read it in the furrows of his troubled brow.
Now even other campaigns are talking about it—we mean, finally they’re talking about it: Sen. McCain boldy states the obvious: Romney disrespects voters
“McCain also said Romney wasn’t ‘respecting the voters’ by changing his position on so many issues, and criticized him for invoking the legacy of Ronald Reagan despite having previously held ‘liberal positions on every issue, all of which have changed, of course,'” reports someone at FITSNews in blog post titled FITSNews Exclusive – McCain Says Romney Too “Inexperienced” To Be President
“For him to lay claim to that Republican record isn’t respecting the voters,” McCain said flatly … etc., etc.
Thank you, Senator. We concur. Every time Romney utters the name “Reagan,” or insists on the integrity of his fluid and often reversible “principles,” we feel deeply “disrespected.”
About the experience issue we disagree. It is not Romney’s inexperience that disqualifies him—at least not for us. It is Romney that disqualifies Romney.
An experienced Romney would still be Romney.
“Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics believes that John McCain beat Mitt Romney in their fight this weekend over which candidate is a “real Republican,” writes the tame and tedious Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot post titled Would Romney be better off running as ‘Mr. Fix-it?’
An adviser to one of Romney’s rivals told me this morning, as we were discussing the “Real Republican” fight of the weekend, that he doesn’t understand the Romney strategy: “I’m not a huge fan of what Romney did in Massachusetts, but it was successful enough to be the foundation of a his message: I’m Mr. Fix-It, I’m the the can-do, get-it-done governor” … etc., etc.
Our response: Snarf! Guffaw!—shouldn’t Romney try to fix his ailing campaign before he tries to sell himself as the fixer of nations? We will refuse to believe that Romney is anything other than completely incompetent until we hear him articulate a clear, compelling, and unequivocal message consistent with his life and values.
- Rubens on Romney: “Beware Candidates Trying to Purchase a Conservative Label”—NH Republicans “ought to heed the attacks” by other GOPers on Romney “by remembering the the last time a wealthy businessman spent millions of his own money in a campaign to re-define himself as a conservative”
- Berry: “to Mitt Romney, politics is just another product”
“On Monday, McCain’s campaign released a statement from former Rep. Chuck Douglas (R-NH) saying: ‘Mitt Romney actively worked to defeat the Republican candidate trying to reclaim my old congressional seat. Therefore, I’m amazed that Romney would claim to represent the Republican wing of the Republican Party — because when Romney had a chance to contribute to a New Hampshire Republican, he chose to fund a liberal New Hampshire Democrat instead.’“—as reported by the estimable Mike Allen in a politico.com transmission titled Romney gets joint drubbing.
We’re shocked, we tell you. Shocked.
Romney flaks want to spin NH Gov. Lynch attending a McCain townhall meeting as McCain “campaigning” with Democrat etc., etc.
“Governor Romney is the candidate best prepared to change Washington and represent the Republican Party’s most important principles – a strong economy, a strong military and stronger families.
“Only John McCain would criticize a fellow Republican one day and then campaign with a Democrat the next. At a town hall meeting yesterday, McCain stood alongside the Democrat Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, and said ‘America needs more of what you’ve done here in the State of New Hampshire'” … reproduced via The American Federalist’s Romney Ramblings aggregator in an Organization for Mitt Post titled McCain Standing with Governor John Lynch (D-NH), as if standing with someone was a problem.
eyeon08.com’s eye queried “blog-outreach guy for John McCain,” the estimable Patrick Hynes, probably the coolest guy in the universe, about the event.
“… it is a tribute to the New Hampshire primary process that a sitting Democratic Governor would attend a townhall for a Republican candidate for President. Governor Lynch’s visit demonstrates the decency and respect that New Hampshire voters expect in their politicians. To draw a parallel between Senator McCain’s and Governor Lynch’s mutual respect and Governor Romney’s prolonged and repeated support for liberal Democrats, like Dick Swett and Rocky Anderson, over conservative Republicans, is the kind of intellectual corner-cutting that we have come to expect from the Romney campaign,” writes eye quoting hynes in an eyeon08.com post titled Romney’s “Romney’s Real Republican” Overreaching? [Emphasis ours]
Well, this explains it. The terms decency and respect simply do not exist in the Romney lexicon. Neither, apparently, do the terms “warm,” “human,” or “charisma.” “This is a touchy subject in Utah,” writes someone for voluntaryXchange in a post titled The Problem with Mitt Romney.
… but here’s Russ Roberts of Cafe Hayek
Romney … came across as robotic and plastic, if it’s possible to do both at the same time. Someone described him to me before as charisma-free.
I read somewhere the other day that John Kerry is a Democrats idea of what a Republican might vote for. Romney just might be the converse etc., etc.
It is as plausible an explanation as we’ve heard yet—oh, and the emphasis is ours.
“Mitt Romney is amping up the argument that he — not Rudy — is the Republican who’s truly electable. His campaign just blasted out the following just moments ago,” writes Greg Sargent in a shamelessly pro-Romney TMP ElectionCentral post titled, preposterously, Romney: Forget Rudy — I’m The Real Electable Republican
Willard Milton Romney: STRATEGY FOR A STRONGER AMERICA: THE THREE-LEGGED REPUBLICAN STOOL
“I believe that to win the White House that our candidate has to be somebody who can represent and speak for all three legs of the conservative stool or conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan put together — social conservatives, economic conservatives and defense conservatives.” — Governor Romney
Of course, as Jonathan Martin points out, Rudy is presenting a three-legged stool of his own: National security conservatism, economic conservatism, and in place of social conservatism, Hillary-bashing, that is to say, Rudy’s claim that only he can slay her.
So what Romney’s doing with the above argument is to try to undercut not one, but two of Rudy’s campaign rationales. First, Romney’s trying to dilute the importance of national security issues as a primary driver of GOP Primary voters. And second, he’s simultaneously undercutting Rudy’s I’m-electable-against-Hillary claim by saying that only someone who meets all of these three conservative thresholds can assemble the coalition necessary to get elected President as a Republican … etc., etc.
Romney’s tired furniture metaphor aside, most agree that “conservatism has lots its coherence”; regard:
“But the base is not so happy right now,” writes eye in an eyeon2008.com post titled Just babies, guns, and taxes? Or more?
The party is angry because George Bush isn’t conservative enough. What does that mean? Taxes? Um, no. He cut those. A bunch. Babies? PBA. Judges. A huge number of executive orders. Probably not that. Guns? Well, he let the Assault Weapons Ban expire. Probably not the problem there. What are the problems? Spending. Immigration. Campaign finance reform. Etc.
When someone can count the conservative principles on one hand, I will know what it means to be conservative again. We aren’t there. We need new ideas. Some of that is a reorganization of our existing ideas. Some of it is new stuff. Time to start working … etc., etc.
This is especially true in light of the Romney Question—in light of a “suddenly conservative” super-rich person and his hireling dilettanti—a man who claims to have redefined conservatism in advance of any movement by the movement. See:
Rubens on Romney: “Beware Candidates Trying to Purchase a Conservative Label”—NH Republicans “ought to heed the attacks” by other GOPers on Romney “by remembering the the last time a wealthy businessman spent millions of his own money in a campaign to re-define himself as a conservative”
The other GOP candidates appear to have a plan of their own to address the Romney Question. Regard:
“On the trail in South Carolina last week, Giuliani said that ‘from California to New York . . . the things that hold us together as a party are a strong national defense and a strong national economy,'” reports Jonathan Martin in a Politico blog post titled Romney’s three legs vs Rudy’s two (and a half?)
So then how does Rudy keep the GOP stool upright?
It’s becoming more obvious that Rudy’s third-leg is no issue at all, but rather something more pragmatic: electability.
As Perry Bacon smartly observes in his piece from the Palmetto State, Rudy has made Hillary-bashing, and the I-can-beat-her narrative it connotes, “the third plank of his brand of conservatism in lieu of orthodoxy on social issues.”
And if McCain and Fred keep focusing their fire on Romney instead of Rudy, he may just get away with it … etc., etc.
Let us pray that he does, as this is probably the best we can hope for at the moment.
Aside: you sort of have to wonder—are the Romneys themselves asking why it is that everyone is against them?—or: do they have the presence of mind or critical self-awareness necessary to even pose such a question? We don’t know.
“Hat tip to Ankle Biting Pundits for posting these videos. It looks like Romney is the GOP version of John Kerry this time around,” writes the estimable Rico J. Halo in a ThatPoliticalBlog post titled, innocuously, Romney on Various Issues—please consider following this link, or the Ankle Biting Pundits link to enjoy the videos.
“I’m an admirer of Mitt Romney, but it seems that his rivals are getting traction with their attacks on the not-very-conservative aspects of his record,” admits John Hinderaker of the Powerline Blog in a post titled Mitt1.0.
This morning, John McCain went after Romney effectively on Face the Nation. Fred Thompson weighed in with a crack about Romney running for the Senate to the left of Ted Kennedy, which was hyperbolic but not ridiculously so.
I have to admit that I was taken aback by this YouTube video of Romney in a 1994 debate with Kennedy, which is making the rounds. Maybe everyone else has already seen it, but what struck me was that it wasn’t just the social issues, abortion and gay marriage, on which Romney took a moderate to liberal line. More disconcerting was his effort to distance himself from the Reagan administration, during which he pointedly said that he had been an independent:
For a lot of Republican primary voters, that could put Romney in St. Peter territory … etc., etc.
You don’t say.
“John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have now both taken off the gloves on Mitt Romney, challenging his claims to conservatism,” writes Jim Rubens in an NH Insider post titled Beware Candidates Trying to Purchase a Conservative Label
New Hampshire Republicans ought to heed these attacks by remembering the last time a wealthy businessman spent millions of his own money in a campaign to re-define himself as a conservative.
In 2002, Craig Benson, wealthy businessman and instigator of what is now the state’s third largest tax (the business enterprise tax), opened his own wallet and tricked GOP primary voters into believing that he was the true conservative. Once elected, Benson could not use TV ads to govern and his failed performance contributed in no small measure to our state turning blue in 2006 …
… Maybe it’s time for a new litmus test that does not require candidates to evolve for each new election. How about consistency over time? I would rather know that a candidate’s values are firm and stable than that he can spend $50 million (what Mitt Romney will likely self-fund before he drops out) to redefine himself … etc., etc.
For an update on the imbroglio, see:
“Mitt Romney’s campaign has now fired back at John McCain’s recent attacks on the candidate. Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho released this response,” writes Erik Kleefield in a TPM ElectionCentral post (mis-)titled Romney Campaign Hits Back At McCain’s “Flailing Attacks“
Romney flak Gail Gitcho: “Angry attacks from campaigns without any new ideas on how to bring change to Washington aren’t what voters are looking for” … [Romney campaign anger, bitterness, pathology, projection, cynacism, and despair omitted]
Meanwhile Rick Evans of ReliablePolitics asks “[is] John McCain Gaining Ground?” based on hypothetical general election polls that show McCain gaining, and Romney tanking. Conclusion: there is no downside to either being attacked, or attacking, Willard Milton Romney. Why is this case?—Romney’s unprecedentedly high negatives.
We explore the issue of Romney’s negatives elsewhere:
- Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)
- Romney’s negative attacks on others and his negatives in the polls–what is the link?
Here is what we concluded then, and what we still hold to now:
Allow us to articulate our argument in more familiar terms. It is common wisdom that a candidate whose negatives are high should not go negative. The negative campaigner may bring down her rival or rivals, but not without bringing herself down as well. Does any remember Dick Gephardt’s bitter attacks on Howard Dean and how they backfired on him? Neither do we. But the same was once said about Gephardt as is now said about Romney by Geraghty and others. Gephardt, however, was at least limited by the poverty of his campaign and Gephardt’s own loyalty to the interests of his party.
Romney has high negatives and has clearly gone negative. He has a far smaller-narrower base of support but far, far more resources than Gephardt ever had. And: Romney has far less of a commitment to the success of the GOP than Gephardt, a loyal soldier to the end, had to the DNC.
So: Imagine a Republican Dick Gephardt, on steroids, angry, alienated, estranged, adrift, and with no larger sense of party loyalty to restrain him, a man surrounded by hirelings, contractors, and highly-paid specialists, as opposed to the usual politicos, interest group players, and party insiders that surround other candidates, i.e. people with larger and longer term interests at stake. Now imagine that this hypothetical Republican Gephardt with nothing to lose but everything to gain has both the will and the resources necessary to slime and vilify whatever candidate or candidates he chooses.
This is Willard Milton Romney.
And this is where we are at this historical moment.
These are interesting times for the GOP … more