Posts Tagged ‘michael levenson’
“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.
“In the wide-open Republican presidential contest, Mitt Romney boasts an influential fan who has the ear of millions of voters,” writes Michael Levenson in a Boston Globe article titled Limbaugh talking up Romney
Rush Limbaugh, the cigar-chomping conservative stalwart, has been on a tear over the last few weeks, talking up Romney and taking whacks at John McCain and Mike Huckabee. And in a race where no candidate has been able to unify the base of the Republican Party, Limbaugh’s chatter matters. With 13.5 million listeners on 600 stations, the nation’s most highly rated talk-radio host could give Romney a big boost.
“Of course it helps,” said Stuart Stevens, a media adviser for Romney. “He’s like the NPR for conservatives.”
Limbaugh, who makes a point of saying he does not officially endorse in the primaries, has nonetheless praised Romney effusively, repeated Romney’s policy talking points, defended him against attacks from fellow conservatives, and after Romney’s win in Michigan this week, declared him the front-runner.
Just as tellingly, Limbaugh has been crusading against Huckabee and McCain, whom he does not consider real conservatives or suitable heirs to the Reagan legacy.
If either wins the nomination, “it’s going to destroy the Republican Party,” he told listeners Tuesday [...]
[...] Limbaugh also derides the independents and moderates supporting McCain and Huckabee as “quivering masses of Jell-Os” and not real Republican conservatives [...]
Here is the problem for Limbaugh and the National Review. Post-Michigan the hapless candidate has shed his allegedly new-found conservatism like a reptile sloughs its hide, as anyone with any sense could have predicted—as anyone with any sense did predict.
Romney himself is paying a heavy price for his viciously negative campaigning—question: will Limbaugh pay a share of the invoice since he now carries water for the Romney family?
Reston of race42008.com earlier predicted that National Review and others will pay a price:
Reston’s prediction for 2008: “Romney’s nomination results in the GOP losing six-senate seats instead of three (Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico, and New Hampshire) and a push in the House where at least modest gains were expected”
Here is what is most perverse, at least for us. Romney has already walked away from his botched, misshaped, caricatured, unreconstructed “conservatism” that idiots like the editors at the National Review and media voices like Rush Limbaugh insist upon:
- That didn’t take long!—Romney drops all pretense of any commitment to conservative values or principles—now argues that “it‘s time for Washington — Republican and Democrat — to have a leader who will fight to make sure we resolve the issues rather than continuously look for partisan opportunity for score-settling” etc.
- equity sector multi-millionaire Romney now champions the dignity of human labor, completely abandons arch-conservative line for latest version of Romney, Romney the progressive-populist
- Formerly conservative, now populist-progressive Citizen Romney promises to “save the Southern Economy”—Romney’s program of economic nationalism develops apace—and this guy was endorsed by the boneheads of the National Review?
P.S. Rush Limbaugh’s carrier, Clear Channel Communications, was recently acquired by Romney’s Bain Capital. Coincidence?
“MANCHESTER, N.H. – The battle between Mitt Romney and John McCain in New Hampshire’s Republican primary took a significant turn yesterday as Romney unveiled his first television advertisement attacking McCain’s record,” writes Michael Kranish, with the apt and able assistance of Michael Levenson in a Boston Globe article titled Attacking McCain seen risky for Romney
But the strategy entailed significant risks, possibly turning voters against both candidates and toward another contender, analysts said.
Romney’s negatives are preposterously high, higher than McCain’s. We discuss what it means for someone with high negatives to go negative on an opponent with lower negatives here:
Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates
Back to Kranish:
The ad calls McCain “an honorable man,” but questions whether he is “the right Republican for the future.” It says McCain favored amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed President Bush’s tax cuts. McCain, who has revised his immigration proposal and later supported the tax cuts, laughed off the ad as the move of a candidate in a tailspin.
“I was encouraged because it was very clear that Governor Romney attacks when people are catching up with him,” McCain said at a news conference shortly after arriving in Manchester yesterday. “I understand why he is talking about the future, since he spent most of his time running away from his past.”
Last night McCain struck back at Romney, releasing a television commercial that quotes some stinging editorials this week about his opponent. Most prominently, the ad quotes the Concord Monitor editorial published on Sunday that urged voters to reject Romney, saying, “If a candidate is a phony . . . we’ll know it.” The ad also quotes the New Hampshire Union Leader saying that “Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that . . . Mitt Romney has not.”
By using the words of newspaper editorial writers instead of an anonymous announcer, McCain is hoping to add a tone of credibility and authority to his advertisement.
In response, Romney defended his ad and blasted McCain’s.
“We worked very hard to make sure it was accurate and honest and looks at contrasting issues,” Romney told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa. “I begin the ad by indicating he’s an honorable man. I believe he is, and a good person. I make no attacks on his character. I make no attacks of a personal nature whatsoever.
“I’ve just seen the text of his ad,” Romney added. “It’s obviously of a very different nature. It’s an attack ad. It attacks me personally. It’s nasty. It’s mean-spirited. Frankly, it tells you more about Senator McCain than it does about me – that he’d run an ad like that” … etc.
Let us pass in review. Romney attacks Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain strikes back only harder. And Romney cries foul? On what possible grounds does this primped, preened, powdered, and pampered little man—a man who would be a complete non-entity were it not for his wealth and life of privilege—believe that he is entitled to lie about and abuse others with impunity?
Back to Kranish:
… David Carney, a New Hampshire political consultant who is not allied with any presidential campaign, said that Romney’s strategy is risky because, even if it turns voters against McCain, it might also turn them against Romney.
“If the ad is so successful it gets people to decide not to vote for McCain, it is highly unlikely they will go to Romney,” Carney said. “In a multicandidate primary race, it doesn’t help the attacker.”
Nonetheless, the ad is reminiscent of one of the most famous ads in the history of the New Hampshire primary, in which George H. W. Bush in 1988 attacked his rival, Senator Bob Dole, as “Senator Straddle.”
Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducts polls for the Globe, said it is unclear whether the Romney ad will be effective because McCain has built up his reputation as a straight talker, which Smith said many voters respect “even if they disagree with him.”
We concur with Smith, and argue our case here:
Another point: Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar. Will Romney’s negative advertising be as spectacularly ineffective as his other advertising?
Edsall: “Since January 1, 2007, the former Massachusetts governor has spent well in excess of $80 million, including at least $17.4 million of his own money, paying media fees in excess of $30 million, salaries of roughly $16 million, and consulting payments of more than $15 million”—more on Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar (iii)
Our conclusion: Romney believes that the GOP nomination is rightfully his. And why not?—he bought and paid for it. Therefore: Romney has demonstrated himself willing to destroy the characters and reputations of his rivals. Our question: How soon—and in what specific form—will the anti-Romney backlash suddenly appear?
“Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals wasted little time tonight ridiculing him for his second go-round with illegal immigrants working at his home,” writes Michael Levenson and Sasha Issenberg of the Boston Globe in a story titled Rivals hit Romney on illegal workers
Yes, well, so much for Romney “owning” this week because of his Mormon-Kennedy speech.
“After months of debate within his campaign organization, Mitt Romney has decided to give a speech addressing his Mormon faith, a potentially pivotal step that reflects the surging candidacy of Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher who has been promoting himself explicitly as a Christian leader,” writes the Globe Staff’s Michael Levenson in an article titled Pressed, Romney to speak on his Mormonism; Will ‘share views on religious liberty’ as a Baptist rival leaps ahead in Iowa
NOTA: Levenson’s very headline links Team Romney’s Agony-in-Iowa to Romney’s sudden conversion on the issue of a Mormon-Kennedy speech. Yet further evidence of the disastrous timing of Romney’s speech—Romney’s decision is depicted as a concession, as an act of weakness or desperation.
Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said yesterday that Romney would give the speech titled “Faith in America” on Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
“This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation, and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected,” Madden said in a statement. “Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.”
The problem for Romney is this: how can he “share … how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected” without endorsing the Mormon confession?—without drawing attention to the Mormon confession?—recall: Kennedy in 1960 argued that his confession would not inform his presidency—Romney must somehow argue the precise opposite. What was it Marx said about history repeating itself? First as tragedy, the second time as farce … Romney would be the farce.
The biggest historical precedent for Romney’s decision is the speech that John F. Kennedy delivered before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy sought in the speech to allay concerns among voters about his Catholicism.
NOTA: Romney has encouraged and Levenson endorses the link between Kennedy’s speech and Romney’s—once again, as in Iowa, as in New Hampshire, Romney and his crack staff have set up impossible-to-meet expectations for the hapless candidate. This is a pattern for Romney: he sets himself up not just to fail, but to fail spectacularly.
… Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and Romney supporter who holds a leadership position in the Mormon Church, saw the decision as a sign that Romney is making a serious bid to become the first Mormon president.
“I’m delighted that he’s decided to do it,” Christensen said. “It really is a great church, and the more people can understand what it is and what it does, the more I think they’ll trust that he acts in the best interests of the country” … etc.
Christensen unwittingly articulates Romney’s peril: to argue that the Mormon confession is “a great church, and the more people can understand what it is and what it does, the more I think they’ll trust that [Romney] acts in the best interests of the country” would be death for the Romney candidacy—Romney would truly become the Mormon candidate whose task it is to draw the Mormon confession into the mainstream not of US public life, because lots of Mormons already serve the public good in public life and public service with merit and distinction, but rather into the mainstream of the Evangelical movement, which is the audience Romney wants to address. Only this would be patently ridiculous—the primary process is neither the time nor the place for such a dialog.
Wolfe states the case more elegantly than we do:
… Wolfe said Kennedy’s approach would not be a strong model for Romney because many Republican voters, particularly Christian conservatives, bristle at the notion of separation of church and state and want religion to be a guiding principle for the next president.
“Kennedy’s speech was actually an antireligion speech; it was a don’t pay-any-attention-to-my-Catholicism speech,” Wolfe said. “In the 2007 Republican Party you can’t do that, because it’s a party that essentially has a religious test for the nomination” …
… Wolfe said the theological differences could put Romney in an awkward position.
“If he says something about Mormonism as his actual religion, it’s not going to please evangelicals too much,” Wolfe said. “But if he gives the kind of Jesus-is-my-personal-savior speech, evangelicals won’t buy it and he’s going to alienate his own Mormon friends.”
Wolfe said the wisest approach might be to explain the differences and similarities between Mormonism and mainline Christianity.
“If I were in his shoes, I would take a more honest approach and say this what I am, this is what Mormons believe, this is why we’re Christians,” Wolfe said. “He can’t deny who he is” … etc.
Yes. And an honest exposition of the distinctions between Romney’s confession and what Evangelicals consider to be normative may have been effective last summer or even as late as the ill-starred Value Voter’s Summit. Now, however, whatever Romney does, whatever Romney says, will appear as desperation in the very teeth of crashing poll numbers.
Kairos, Romney. Timing. It’s all about timing. See:
how Romney botched the Mormon-Kennedy-speech issue by setting up impossible expectations, by consistently failing to identify opportunity and seize the initiative, and by allowing others to frame the debate
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney said today that his long-awaited speech on his Mormon faith would not be a clear echo of the address made by John F. Kennedy in 1960 as he sought to become the nation’s first Catholic president,” writes Michael Levenson, Globe Staff, in an article titled Romney talks about his Mormon speech
Instead of a highly personal speech, Romney said he would talk more broadly on Thursday at the George Bush presidential library in College Station, Tex., about the role of religion in politics and of the nation’s religious heritage.
“I think JFK, or President Kennedy really did give the definitive speech on politics and religion, the political process and religious discrimination,” Romney said. “I think he said what had to be said. I don’t have anything really to add what he did, so I’m speaking on a related but different topic, which is the role of religion in a free society, if you will the faith in America, and the fact that I’m concerned that faith has disappeared in many respects from the public square.
“So I want to make sure we maintain our religious heritage in this country, not of a particular brand of faith, if you will, not of particular sect or a denomination but rather the great moral heritage we have is so critical to the great future of this country,” the former Massachusetts governor added … etc.
Say, what? Is that the issue? Evangelicals demur to vote for a Mormon because “faith has disappeared in many respects from the public square?” How does that follow? Here is CBN’s Brody’s account of Romney’s rhetorical problem:
… “If Romney wants to grab those crucial Evangelical votes in Iowa and elsewhere, he will earn their respect and come across as honest and authentic if he acknowledges the differences between the two religions. Evangelicals, for the most part, don’t want him to lump Mormonism and Christianity into the ‘we’re all the same’ category. I know Mormons feel differently about this but I’m just giving it to you straight. Values wise the two religions have a lot in common and I’m sure that will be a big part of his speech. But Evangelicals would trust him more, appreciate him more and respect him more if he came clean about the differences. I’m not saying he needs to do theological bullet points here. Of course not. But a little more would go a long way” …
NOTA: What Romney proposes is the precise opposite of what Brody advises—Brody wants distinctions, and Romney wants to claim that all sects and their sectaries are parts and equal partners in a grand mosaic of sectarian unity-in-diversity, our so-called “great moral heritage,” whatever that means. But the point is moot. No matter what solution to the problem Romney chooses, he loses. He missed the moment and has allowed others—like Brody—to frame the debate and to specify its terms. The time to address this issue was last summer, or perhaps even as late as the Value Voters Summit. See:
how Romney botched the Mormon-Kennedy-speech issue by setting up impossible expectations, by consistently failing to identify opportunity and seize the initiative, and by allowing others to frame the debate
… “Now, just seven weeks before the first votes are cast, Romney’s disciplined approach stands as one of the biggest contrasts with his main rivals for the Republican nomination, all of whom are campaigning more as charismatic figures than as methodical politicians seeking to lock up various constituencies,” writes the estimable and precise Michael Levenson of the Globe Staff in a boston.com release titled Methodical style sets Romney apart from GOP rivals
Backed by heavy spending, Romney’s game plan has propelled him into the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire polls and into the top tier of GOP contenders nationwide. But it has also drawn critics who say his persona is so carefully crafted it appears contrived and does not elicit the same kind of passionate support as his rivals, who showcase their personalities.
“The fear is that voters won’t know who this guy is,” said Daron Shaw, a University of Texas political scientist and a strategist for President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004 who is not involved in this campaign. “That’s kind of the concern with people who are on Romney’s side and looking for him to do well. He can have wonderful positions on the issues, but if voters don’t know him and don’t have a sense of him, they’re not going to trust the particulars of his healthcare plan. They’re not going to trust that he’s necessarily going to be tough on national security issues.”
Romney’s strategy has produced broad-based, but not deeply loyal, support. A Boston Globe poll published Sunday indicated that Romney was leading in New Hampshire by 12 percentage points over his nearest rival, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. It also suggests that Romney’s supporters are the least likely to have made up their minds, compared with backers of Giuliani and Senator John McCain of Arizona …
The emphases are ours, all ours.
…. Paul M. Weyrich, the conservative activist who endorsed Romney last week, said Romney’s strategy is exactly right.
“I think he’s thought through where he thinks he can win, how he thinks he can win, and what he’s going to do about it,” he said. “Most of the other candidates don’t really have a clue” … etc.
Well, duh. Of course they don’t have a clue, Boy Weyrich.
What the abjectly prostrate Weyrich and his imperious master, Romney, fail to understand is that the primary process is a learning process—or at least it is supposed to be. It is—or it was—supposed to be about candidates testing and developing messages, and about constituencies and coalitions forming and un-forming in relation to their perceptions, to the media’s perceptions, to how the candidates respond to their appeals or address them in their proposals etc.