Archive for the ‘media’ Category

“Mitt Romney backpedaled Tuesday after saying former Sen. Bob Dole is ‘probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me,'” write Carl Cameron, Shushannah Walshe, and the Associated Press in a http://www.foxnews.com release titled Romney Backpedals Over Bob Dole Comments

Romney made the remark in response to a letter Dole wrote to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in defense of Romney rival John McCain.

Romney even tried to call Dole, with no luck, from the plane as he and other candidates criss-crossed the country to campaign while voters in the 24 Super Tuesday states cast their ballots for both parties.

“Let me make it very clear. Senator Dole is an American hero, a war hero, a fine man and a great leader for our party,” Romney said in Charleston, W.Va., where GOP voters were a holding a state convention Tuesday […]

[…] In Charleston, Romney said his comment on Dole was only meant to point out that “the selection of our nominee based on someone having served in the Senate a long time … did not do well for us in that election.”

He said he was referring to “that aspect,” not Dole specifically, when he made his comments.

Romney and McCain have been tireless in accusing each other of being soft on key GOP issues, and with McCain leading in most of the Super Tuesday states Romney has been fighting to stay competitive. The former Massachusetts governor was logging more than 5,000 miles as he undertook a 37-hour coast-to-coast tour in the 21 states holding GOP contests Tuesday […]

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“I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language,” writes Dr. James Dobson in a statement read by Laura Ingraham over the air, and posted to race42008.com by Jason Bonham in a contribution titled Breaking: Dobson Slams McCain on Ingraham

[…] But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives. Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can’t vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life […]

But Dr. Dobson’s constitutionally guaranteed right to vote may be the only influence he has left.

“James Dobson, the founder and head of the evangelical media and counseling group Focus on the Family, is constantly described by the media as a power broker, kingmaker, and ‘the Christian right’s most powerful leader,'” writes Rita Heal for http://www.time.com in an article titled Is Dobson’s Political Clout Fading?

As such, his endorsement is seen as key by G.O.P. presidential candidates in the 2008 race. On Wednesday night, his political action website Citizenlink.com released assessments of the major Democratic and Republican candidates — and political observers immediately checked in to see whether Dobson’s organization was leaning toward Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney, the two G.O.P. candidates who have made the biggest play for the evangelical vote. As Focus on the Family weighs in on the presidential race, however, an examination of the group’s records shows that its influence may not be all that it once was, and that its actual base may have become smaller.

For months, Dobson has been playing it coy, seeming to favoring the Mormon Mitt Romney over Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, who would otherwise appear to be the natural Christian right choice. In December, Dr. Dobson praised a Romney speech as “a magnificent reminder of the role religious faith must play in government and public policy. His delivery was passionate and his message inspirational.” Dobson even made a congratulatory phone call to the candidate […]

[…] Dobson has only endorsed one presidential candidate in the past — George W. Bush in 2004, who ran unopposed for the G.O.P. nomination. And the Christian right’s most powerful leader may not want to back a candidate so early in the game. Backing a losing horse could devalue the worth of any future Dobson anointment, especially when America is seeing the rise of a younger generation of less combative preachers like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen and Bill Hybels […]

[…] The ministry apparently has been “flat” for some time. For example, in 1994 Dobson’s monthly newsletter had a circulation of 2.4 million copies. Today, that circulation is about 1.1 million. Also, in the 1990s, Dobson was drawing audiences of 15,000 or more to his speeches; but in the lead-up to the 2006 mid-term election, only about 1,000 people heard his anti-abortion speech at the 2,500-seat Mt. Rushmore National Monument amphitheatre. Daly explains that the event was a last-minute invitation and that Dobson rarely accepts speaking engagements.

According to news accounts and audited financial reports posted online for potential donors, the organization’s staffing is down (30 layoffs last September). Total donations and number of donors are down as well. Focus orders and resells copies of Dobson’s tapes and books, which are the evangelist’s personal business; but those purchases have declined from $678,000 in 2004 to $269,000 in 2006. His last book was published in 2001; another is not anticipated until 2009. The whole Dobson family, including wife Shirley, daughter Danae and son Ryan, produce books and tapes, but revenue from all Dobson-family materials are down, from $781,000 in 2004 to $307,000 in 2006 […]

Also see:

Dr. Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” video voter guide lies about Romney—claims Romney acknowledged that Mormonism is not a Christian faith—Fehrnstrom: “[Romney] has not made that acknowledgment”

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dr. g.d.

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” […]

Smooth.

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.

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dr. g.d.

“MINNEAPOLIS — Republican hopeful Mitt Romney said Sunday he was counting on the ‘voices of conservatism’ and a non-binding caucus in Maine to propel him to within fighting distance of frontrunner Sen. John McCain, who has opened a double-digit lead in polls before Tuesday’s pivotal votes,” writes Andrea Stone in a USA Today article titled Romney courts ‘voices of conservatism’

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Romney said his win in Maine “shocked” McCain, who had been endorsed by the state’s senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both widely viewed as moderate Republicans. The results showed Republicans were “staying in the house that Reagan built,” Romney said.Romney reiterated a litany of McCain positions he says are out of the mainstream of their party, including votes against drilling for oil in the Arctic preserve and President Bush’s tax cuts and for campaign finance bills and “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Asked about the McCain campaign accusations that he has changed positions on issues such as a 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax that Romney now rails against at campaign stops, the former Massachusetts governor rejected what have now become familiar charges of flip-slopping.

“They have stretched, twisted and completely walked away from the truth,” Romney said […]

Truth? Just what is the truth to a person like Romney?

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s icy-cold persona and ultra-high negatives cannot support a negative message. Romney’s own poll numbers crash whenever he does so. Yet here is, again, in person, attempting to slime McCain at the expense of whatever slim chances the GOP may have had in November against Senators Clinton or Obama.

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

Say for the sake of argument that Romney succeeds in driving up Sen. McCain’s negatives to the point that Sen. McCain is no longer viable. History would predict that the result would be equally disastrous for Romney. This is because whenever Romney lurches to the right, he alienates the very moderates and independents that comprise Sen. McCain’s coalition of voters. Yet Romney will need those very voters—voters Romney has ridiculed for not being real Republicans—in the general election. See:

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

In other words Romney’s fight is not with Sen. McCain. Romney’s fight is with the GOP itself.

[…] While McCain has racked up endorsements from governors and other high-profile Republicans on a wholesale basis since his Florida victory, the conservative commentariat of radio and TV have rallied to Romney. Long-time fan Rush Limbaugh was joined this week by Fox News personality Sean Hannity and right-leaning radio talkers Laura Ingraham and Lars Larson. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter went so far this week to say that if McCain, who has angered conservatives with his stands on immigration, taxes and other issues, were the GOP nominee, she would vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

” I don’t think you can buy as much advertising” as radio talk show hosts have provided for free, he said […]

Not entirely for free. Romney’s Bain Capital acquired Clear Channel—the carrier of conservative “voices” like Rush Limbaugh—over a year ago.

The price tag was more like US$26.7 billion.

And the effectiveness of the sale is, at least to date, still in doubt. See:

Here is yet another take on Romney’s sudden bout of Tourette’s syndrome

[…] “ROMNEY ON TW. Mitt Romney came out with guns blazing, accusing John McCain of trying to characterize his positions while he characterized McCain’s,” writes Mark Kilmer in a http://www.redstate.com blog burst titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows—The Review

Romney said he was winning the “battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” the “house Reagan built.” (He’s still invoking Reagan.) Romney boasted of the conservative commentators “coming out for me in record numbers.” Which begs the question, what is the old record which he claims to be breaking? Also, how many of these commentators are supporting him and how many are trying to flex their muscles concerning McCain?

Romney pointed out that McCain’s positions on ANWR, BCRA, immigration, and global warming “cause many conservatives to rally to my camp.” Is this a big Romney rally or a STOP MCCAIN fest?

Romney did allow that he and McCain agree on Iraq. (But he moved to McCain’s position, not v/v.)

Wallace asked Romney about his support for a cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, and Romney accused McCain of twisting his position around. Yes, though, he said that he did support cap and trade.

Romney launched waves of attacks into McCain and McCain’s positions as characterized by Romney.

This was Romney knowing that the numbers do not look good for him right now trying to draw sharp distinctions between his rival and himself. It would have worked better, I think, if he could have focused on a few areas at a time, rather than a general broadside, but time is short. We’ll see how this plays on Tuesday […]

[…] ROMNEY ON CNN. Mitt Romney was Wolf Blitzer’s first guest on CNN’s Late Edition this morning; Romney was in Minnesota. Blitzer pointed out that McCain blames Romney for the nastiness in this campaign. Romney said that he attacks only on issues, while McCain got personal in Florida. He said that he was not going to talk about that. (Romney’s stance vis-à-vis the surge is oriented toward an issue. Romney promised that he would keep mentioning that John McCain had repeated reports that Romney had talked of a timetable for withdrawal.)

Romney said that McCain’s “lack of understanding of the economy” was bad for the country, adding that we have to have someone who has had a real job in the private sector in the Oval Office. (That is a personal attack on the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.)

Romney belittled “reaching across the aisle” and “making political deals.” He said that he is a man of action, of getting things done.

Comment: Say what!? How does one “get things done” if one sorely lacks the political skill necessary to build coalitions? For more on this melancholy theme see:

Why do only 3 out 22 Republican governors support Romney?—yet more evidence of Romney’s incompetence and lack of political skill

Back to Kilmer:

Romney said that McCain-Feingold hurt the Republican Party (it didn’t) and McCain-Kennedy granted amnesty to oodles of illegals (it didn’t even pass). He said that the Florida primary was close, “only a few points.” (Five points is a big win.) He said that conservatives were rallying behind him as a way to stop John McCain, which is why he won the uncontested caucuses in Maine at which no delegates were awarded. (Maine is a bastion of conservatism, electing Senators Collins and Snowe, both of whom endorsed John McCain after co-chairing his exploratory committee last year.)

Blitzer pointed out that polls show McCain beating Hillary and Obama with Romney losing. Romney claimed that the polls swing wildly.

Romney repeated that with our economy “struggling,” we need to elect someone who has held a “real job.” He compared himself again to Ronald Reagan […]

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dr. g.d.

[…] “Operating in survival mode, Mr. Romney’s circle of advisers has come up with a detailed road map to try to salvage his campaign,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Romney Maps a Strategy for Survival

The plan is complete with a new infusion of cash from Mr. Romney, a long-term strategy intended to turn the campaign into a protracted delegate fight and a reframing of the race as a one-on-one battle for the future of the party that seeks to sound the alarm among conservatives about Mr. McCain.

The advisers have drawn up a list of states, dividing and ranking them into those considered relatively easy and inexpensive targets, along with a broader grouping of more costly battlegrounds where the advisers hope that Mr. Romney can be competitive.

Some states like Arizona and Arkansas, the home states of Mr. McCain and Mike Huckabee, respectively, are largely written off.

The question is whether the planning, along with the campaign’s one trump card, the candidate’s vast wealth, can overcome the growing sense of inevitability that has begun to attach itself to Mr. McCain.

Complicating the outlook, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been racked by infighting over advertising strategy between some senior advisers, including some consultants who joined the campaign after leaving Mr. McCain’s […]

[…] The most serious obstacle in many places is Mr. Huckabee, who continues to pull social conservative voters from Mr. Romney.

“The more the Romney strategy hinges on picking up red states, the bigger a factor Mike Huckabee is going to be,” Mr. Harris said […]

Only Romney precluded the possibility of ever reaching out to Gov. Huckabee voters when he went viciously negative against the candidate so many, many moons ago.

But here would be a positive development for Romney. Romney’s anger may have turned on Team Romney itself. Romney may finally be thinking over whether his own organization is the cause of many of his woes.

[…] “The day after Feb. 5, Mr. Romney said he anticipated he would begin reviewing with his campaign team what states to go to next, as well as the budget. Mr. Romney seemed to allude to the possibility of downsizing his staff after Feb. 5,” writes Michael Luo in another NYT article, this time titled Romney Vows to Push on Past Tuesday

Yes. Only Romney may be pushing on past Tuesday with fewer of his hirelings and hangers-on to attend him.

“I mean, we have a very substantial staff, as you know, not what’s here but back in Boston,” he said. “And we had a big staff in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire. That’s a much larger staff than you have as you go on to these subsequent primaries, so who are the people needed, where are we going to need them, what’s the campaign budget going to look like, all of those things.”

In typical Romney fashion the hapless candidate turned and flatly denied what he had just stated.

But then when pressed about the issue during a news conference in Minneapolis, he said there had been no discussions about downsizing […]

But note what Romney said: “There had been no discussions”—does Romney mean that no one among his staff had discussed the issue of downsizing?—so was Romney riffing with reporters about plans he is developing independent of the candidate’s spectacularly ineffective personnel? Recall: This is the same lavishly funded and superbly equipped organization that delivered Romney Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and other humiliating defeats.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“LONG BEACH, Calif. — Mitt Romney hopes to revive his Republican campaign by championing himself as the last true conservative contender,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in a online.wsj.com article titled Romney’s Comeback Plan Trumpets His Conservatism

“We’re quite far apart,” Mr. Romney said of John McCain yesterday at a news conference here. “That distinction is what will, in the final analysis, be my best weapon in a battle to the finish.”

To survive in the race, Mr. Romney must stop Arizona Sen. McCain’s momentum on Tuesday, when 21 states select among Republican candidates. So far, Sen. McCain has won in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, while Mr. Romney has taken Michigan and Nevada […]

We discuss and criticize Romney’s latest incarnation here.

Here we want to develop the race to the base theme.

In an earlier transmission, we developed and describe this particular stage of the primaries contest as the race to the base. Here be our account with updates and annotations provided largely by the crack bloggers of race42008.com.

Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of

(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.

Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.

This is largely coming to pass as we predicted—e.g. LJ provides pro-Sen. McCain quotes from conservative luminaries Grover Norquist, Romney shill Tony Perkins, and Richard Land.

Back to our earlier analysis:

Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.

This is also developing as we had predicted. Romney surrogates and shills are frantically retailing the following themes

(a) “If Sen. McCain wins, I will vote for Hillary,” e.g. Romney shill Ann Coulter

–and–

(b) “Sen. McCain once considered running as a Democrat,” as debunked and criticized by Kavon Nikrad of race42008.com.

Will Tribe Romney win the day? Is Tribe Romney willing to destroy the GOP to put Romney in the White House? History will answer these question for us.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney began making a multimillion-dollar purchase of television ads Thursday in a late push to best the GOP presidential front-runner John McCain in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests,” writes someone—we know not who—for the http://www.chron.com Campaign Notebook in a blog burst titled Romney shells out millions for TV ads

From an earlier post we review Romney’s earlier metamorphoses:

(1) As Romney-apologists tell the story, Romney wanted to run as a competent technocrat, an outsider with the business experience and native genius necessary to “fix Washington.” Only Romney could never stay on message. So what the campaign emitted was unintelligible noise.

In the opinion of observers Romney had tried early on to position himself as a social conservative, only this ridiculously revisionist line never withstood any encounter with the facts of Romney’s record. Romney responded by tacking ever further to the right.

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

(2) After Iowa returned its decision for Gov. Mike Huckabee, Romney suddenly transformed into the “change” candidate.

(3) After New Hampshire returned its decision for Sen. John McCain, Romney transforms himself yet again. Romney abandons his social and economic conservative line altogether. Suddenly Romney wants to nationalize an ailing industry, only in the post-industrial, post-progressive era this assumes the form of a Washington-Detroit “partnership” combined with massive subsidies.

For more on this sad theme, also see:

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.

Now, back to the Campaign Notebook:

[…] Sources familiar with Romney’s plans said the ad buy would exceed $1 million in California alone, enough to give Romney a presence in much of the state. Romney also was expected to spread some money around to some of the other 21 states holding primaries or caucuses Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s possible to flood the airwaves in 22 states,” Romney said, but he nevertheless authorized “a seven-figure — I won’t give you the exact number — but a seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign.”

After a series of single-state contests in which voters could shake candidates’ hands, the Republican presidential nomination could be decided when millions of voters cast their ballots after having seen the candidates only in advertisements or news reports.

Romney’s 11th-hour advertising blitz contrasts sharply with the air war already under way between the top Democratic candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. They had been advertising in most of the 22 states holding Democratic nominating contests Tuesday.

Yet neither has sufficient funds to blanket California, let alone all Feb. 5 states, with advertising. They are putting up ads head to head in only eight states: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Missouri, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey […]

Romney’s message? By reinventing himself yet again, this time as the “authentic conservative.” This is consonant with the Gage “death by internal memo analysis” we discussed here.

“WASHINGTON, Jan 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Last night’s debate was yet another reminder of why smooth talking Mitt Romney keeps wracking up the silver and bronze medals, but just can’t seem to make it across the finish line,” writes, well, writes someone in an article titled DNC: Romney Hangs His Hat on Credibility… No, Really!

The DNC analysis is not only apt in itself—please remember our slogan, audi alteram partem, or consider every source—but it also aptly previews how a Romney nomination would get bracketed the a general election.

After losses in almost every critical state heading up to next Tuesday, Romney’s campaign has apparently decided that his last hope is to try to re-brand himself yet again — this time as an “authentic conservative.”

After all the damage Romney’s flip-flops have done to his credibility, hanging his hat on authenticity might not be the best plan. Exit polls in every early state have shown that voters who want a candidate who believes what he says are rejecting Romney: He was the top choice of just 7 percent of those voters in South Carolina, 14 percent in Iowa, 15 percent in New Hampshire, and 19 percent in Florida. Even in Michigan, a state where his home field advantage helped him win, Romney was the top choice of fewer than one in four voters who wanted a candidate who says what he believes. [CNN Exit Polls, 1/29/08]

“The more smooth talking Mitt Romney flips and flops from message to message, the more the voters see him for the blatant opportunist and shameless panderer he is,” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera. “Even if Romney could convince voters to ignore the secret timetable he supported for Iraq or his dismal economic performance in Massachusetts, Mitt can’t hide the fact that a vote for Romney is a vote for a third Bush term” […]

Yes. Well, the “I am more conservative than you are” message worked so well in Iowa. Isn’t that why Romney abandoned it in the first place?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney poured twice as much of his own money into his campaign than he received from all outside donors combined in the final months of last year, according to new campaign finance reports,” reports Elana Schor in a http://www.guardian.co.uk release titled New finance reports show Romney’s fundraising fell short

Romney, scrambling to knock John McCain from the frontrunner’s pedestal in the Republican presidential race, spent $18m from his personal fortune during the fourth quarter of 2007.His contributions from other sources during that period totaled $9.1m, as listed in financial records that all campaigns were required to release by today […]

Team Romney itself attempts to mitigate by attenuation their crashing contributions, and increasing use of Romney’s vast personal fortune, by framing their ongoing financial disaster, and fantastically low ROI for their every campaign dollar, in a larger context:

BOSTON, Jan 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Today, Romney for President announced it reported over $27 million in total receipts for the Fourth Quarter, ending December 31, 2007. The Campaign again opted to raise no general election funds and reported $9 million in primary contributions. The total receipts include Governor Romney’s loan of $18 million.

For the entire year, Romney for President had total receipts of $90 million. In the past month, Governor Romney’s message of conservative change in Washington has resonated with people across this country. Governor Romney has won three states, placed a strong second in another three and had a strong showing in South Carolina […]

Here is the problem for Team Romney: the larger context that Team Romney wants you to consider only casts in sharper relief

(a) just how much the Romneys have spent for so little, and how little Romney’s competitors have spent for so much

-and-

(b) just how drastically Romney’s receipts have declined relative to his spending—hence, Romney’s self-financing.

Tommy Oliver of race42008.com, however, points out that Romney has “tie[d] Fred Thompson for 3rd place this quarter in contributions.”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“A memo from a senior strategist for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says that the media are ready to give the Republican nomination to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), but if Romney can attract more conservatives, he will win the nomination,” writes Sam Youngman in a TheHill.com analytical fantasia titled Romney memo says media ‘ready to anoint McCain’

“We still have an uphill battle in front of us,” Romney strategist Alex Gage wrote in the memo. “The mainstream media is (sic) ready to anoint John McCain and he will have advantages in many states running for president for the past eight years – but Gov. Romney has a clear path to victory on February 5th and beyond.”

The memo, obtained by The Hill, outlines how McCain has failed to win over conservative voters in the states that have voted so far, and it details how Romney could have won if only a few more percentage points of that bloc had come over.

“The coalitions that John McCain assembled in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida have been strikingly similar – and are strikingly tenuous,” Gage wrote […]

[…] The memo goes on to say that Romney and McCain “are now in a two-man race and a few points’ movement among conservatives is all that’s needed to tip the scales in favor of Gov. Romney.”

Gage writes that in the early three states McCain won, his margin of victory was the result of the support of moderates, independents and voters that disapprove of the Bush administration.

“None of these groups is a majority of the Republican electorate,” Gage wrote, adding that this is the reason “McCain has failed to win more than 36 percent of the vote in any of them” […]

Gage’s conclusions are based on an emerging fixed point in the discussion. Sen. McCain can reach across party lines to build issues coalitions; Romney can win the base. Chris Suellentrop develops the data coming out of Florida’s contest to arrive at a similar conclusion:

[…] In short, Mitt Romney won the Republican Party’s idea of itself ­ and that, too, is a big deal. If you’re white, Protestant, anti-abortion, go to church on Sundays, think well of the President, want lower taxes, hate terrorists, make a good living, want to do something about immigration, and live in Florida, chances are you voted Romney. The question before Florida was whether McCain could win a closed Republican race, and now we know he can. The question now is whether he can win conservatives ­ and in Florida, he did not […]

Here, for Romney, begins what we earlier called the race to the base.

Hence Romney’s sudden volte face on whether to mount a last ditch advertising salvo. On January 30 David Espo of the AP reported that “Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney signaled Wednesday he’s not ready to finance a costly campaign in the states holding primaries and caucuses next week.

By February 1 Dan Morain and Scott Martelle of the LA Times issued the headline: Romney launches Super Tuesday ad barrage; The multimillion-dollar campaign in far-flung states, he hopes, will help him regain the edge he’s losing to McCain. Experts question whether ads will help at this point

[…] Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney launched a multimillion-dollar purchase of television ads Thursday, in a last-ditch effort to remain competitive with GOP presidential front-runner John McCain in the Super Tuesday contests.

Sources familiar with Romney’s plans said the ad buy would exceed $1 million in California alone, enough to give the former Massachusetts governor a presence in much of the state. Romney also was expected to spread some money around to some of the other 20 states holding GOP primaries or caucuses Tuesday, though experts question whether the late advertising would have any impact.

“I don’t think it’s possible to flood the airwaves in 22 states,” Romney said, but he nevertheless authorized “a seven-figure — I won’t give you the exact number — but a seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign.”

After a series of single-state contests in which voters could shake candidates’ hands, the Republican presidential nomination could be decided by millions of voters casting their ballots after having seen the candidates only in advertisements or news reports.

Those political ads depend on candidates’ ability to pay for them, and with the fields in both parties dwindling this week, the surviving candidates looked to pick up the support of former candidates’ fundraisers and bundlers […]

Can Romney pull off this last chance, high-stakes, 11th hour, and super-expensive gambit? Can Romney secure his nomination and destroy the GOP? Keep watching the skies. Or the airwaves.

Whateverz.

Haven’t we all been here before?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Jason Bonham quotes Romney in a race42008.com blog burst titled Romney on Good Morning America

[Romney] “I think there will be a movement within the Republican party to coalesce around a conservative candidate. Mike Huckabee, of course, might stay in, and that might be one of the reasons he does so – is to try and split that conservative vote.”

Is this a wish? Is this a prayer? Media pressure will soon begin to mount against the hapless candidate, so is this the rationale—the reasoning, the alibi—for sticking it out after Florida decided for the now “presumptive GOP nominee, the honorable Sen. John McCain?

Note that this new talking point represents no fresh thinking, no new analysis, no current assessment of the situation or its many factors. Precisely the opposite is the case: this is the same argument for Romney’s fitness as a candidate that Romney has retailed for months and months, the so-called two-man-race theme that dates back at least to Iowa. See:

Romney’s 2-man race theme; an alibi for collapsing poll numbers?—this is from way back in October

Michael Scherer elaborates on the 2-man-race theme from Petersburg FL in a http://www.time.com article titled Is Romney Fighting the Last War?

[…] The Romney campaign, humbled by recent defeats, now hopes to rebrand his insider strategy as an outsider one. As the candidate soldiers on to the 21 states that will vote on February 5, the campaign holds out hope that the old coalition can be reborn anew. “We feel as though the conservatives are beginning to rally around Mitt,” said Ann Romney, after her husband delivered an upbeat concession speech Tuesday night, in a downtown St. Petersburg theater.

A few minutes earlier, and a couple dozen feet away, Jay Sekulow, a senior advisor to the campaign, put it this way. “Conservatives have a choice now, and it’s a clear choice,” he said. “You have got a conservative and you have got John McCain, who does not take conservative positions on a lot of issues.”

Downstairs, in the theater’s press filing room, Al Cardenas, a Washington lobbyist who chaired Romney’s Florida campaign, continued in the same frame of reference. “We think that the conservative movement activists are now beginning to panic about losing their grip on the Republican Party,” Cardenas said. “They better start working hard, and they have told us they are going to have to start working hard.”

The new Romney strategy has two clear components.

  1. First, the campaign is determined to marginalize Huckabee, who continues to poll well in many southern states, bleeding off votes from the vital socially conservative leg of the Romney’s stool. “Huckabee has proven he can’t win in the south,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s spokesman. “People are going to realize that this is a two person race right now,” said Sekulow.
  2. Second, Romney will spend much of the next week trying to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain, who leaves Florida with considerable momentum and already-high poll numbers in many of the states that vote on February 5. Though McCain has been hammered by some conservative voices, such as the radio host Rush Limbaugh, he has so far escaped the full ideological revolt that greeted him in 2000, when he lost the nomination to George W. Bush.

[Emphases and formatting are ours]

This final Romney gambit is likely to determine more than just the fate of one, well-heeled candidate. It could set the course for the Republican Party. In the old days, those who supported tax cuts for the wealthy worked closely with those who wanted to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. Those who wanted to grow the size of the military made common cause with those who saw global warming as an environmentalist scare-tactic meant to interfere with free markets. Those who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade also wanted to overturn campaign finance reform […]

On its face the claim that conservatives will suddenly awaken to the grim reality of a Sen. McCain candidacy and turn to Romney is plausible but requires argument. The most urgent question this suggests is simply why haven’t conservatives turned to Romney before now? Is it not also plausible—in fact, demonstrable—in fact, part of Romney’s own argument—that the so-called Reagan coalition is dead? And if Romney were the one who could truly pull the sword from the stone, or breathe life into the dead coalition, why hasn’t he done it yet?—we’re all waiting, Romney; don’t tell us what conservatives should do or shouldn’t do, instead: show us what you can do.

Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of

(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.

Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.

Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.

In other words, Romney is perfectly willing to take the party down with him. So, let Romney unleash if he can the “full ideological revolt that greeted [Sen. McCain] in 2000.” Recent history—Iowa, New Hampshire—would predict that the gotterdammerung that Romney plans for Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain will rebound upon himself. See:

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

yours &c.
dr. g.d.