Posts Tagged ‘campaign advertising’

“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.

“Mitt Romney’s had an 8 to 1 television ad advantage in Florida … “ writes Marc Ambinder in a theatlantic.com blog burst titled Romney’s Major Florida Advantage

… part of the reason why he’s made the competitive. Heck, most of the reason he’s made the race competitive has been his ads.

According to Neilsen, he’s run 4,475 ads compared to John McCain’s 470 through 1/22.

McCain did not run a single ad until January; Romney ran more ads in September than McCain has run to date [...]

8 to 1 advantage in television advertising. Yet Romney is deadlocked with Sen. McCain. Yet more evidence of Romney’s outrageously low ROI for his every campaign dollar. Yet more evidence that Romney’s funding levels are not a reliable indicator of his fitness as a candidate.

Also see:

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dr. g.d.

According to the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Romney spent $2 million in an ad campaign lasting for about the past month, compared to McCain’s $744,000 over the last ten days, and Huckabee’s $484,000 in the past week,” writes Eric Kleefield in a TPM ElectionCentral.com post titled Analysis: Romney Outspent Michigan Competitors In A Big Way

Romney spends more on paid media in MI than either of his principal rivals combined. Yet Romney ekes out a narrow victory in a state that he calls his own. Yet more evidence of Romney’s risibly low ROI for his every campaign dollar.

But the real cost of Romney’s MI campaign is the check that he issued that can never be cashed. That check is Romney’s super-preposterous, atavistic promise to nationalize the US automobile industry. And it is a cost that Romney will never have to pay. That bill goes to the US taxpayer.

candidate endorsed by the National Review, Romney, suddenly veers hard left, argues that Washington must subsidize, become “partner” with, US automobile industry

After humiliating defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney in Michigan finally develops a winning formula. It is a formula consistent with Romney’s risibly low ROI as it allows the hapless candidate to offload his astronomical costs on others. It is simply this: political spoil in its most primitive form. It takes this shape: Promise key sectors of the economy unlimited subsidies from the public treasury.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

[...] “NPR reports that Mitt Romney is shaking up his staff today and taking more control himself,” writes Erick of Redstate.com in a blog burst titled Sources Say

Also, I hear from multiple sources that he has shifted some staff around, pulling people from Florida and sending them to Michigan [...]

Loses learn. This is one of the uses of adversity. Not so Team Romney, we used to argue, because Romney’s vast personal fortune insulates Team Romney from the costs of its failures.

But now there is evidence that the Romney is attempting to rationalize its organization and its operations. This could allow them to, you know, develop a message that connects with voters.

Regard:

“Mitt Romney hasn’t extended his television presence into next week in South Carolina and Florida, an aide confirms,” writes Jonathan Martin of the politico.com in a blog burst titled Mitt not re-upping his S.C. and Fla. TV time

Romney has been on TV for months in both states, owning the airwaves long before his GOP rivals purchased their first spots.

But his multimillion-dollar investment in the two key states that may ultimately decide the GOP nominee has not paid off as he continues to lag behind rivals there.

Spokesman Kevin Madden declined to say whether their decision was based upon strategy or money [...]

[...] Ten days before South Carolina and 20 before Florida it’s difficult to see why he’d go dark in either crucial state, unless he’s decided to limit how much of his own cash he’s using on what has so far been a disappointing campaign.

UPDATE: Another indication that Romney is easing back on the self-funding — an adviser tells AP’s Glen Johnson that they recognize that their ad campaign wasn’t terribly effective and that now they’re going to focus on earned media. Also known as free media [...]

Martin interprets this move as weakness.

We interpret it as strength, amazing strength, strength combined with a stern resolve. Viz.: Romney has the money. So this is not the voice of grim necessity. Rather: This is a rational choice, a sober choice, and the correct choice.

These corrections suggest a more accurate interpretation of the upcoming contests and the players involved. These corrections also suggest a more accurate assessment of what is achievable and for what cost. Here is the money quote from the Glen Jonhson AP article that Martin links to:

[...] Conceding Romney had been hurt by a backlash against the hard-hitting television commercials the former Massachusetts governor ran against Huckabee and McCain, the adviser said the campaign hoped to “get away from the paid media and get more of the earned media.”

The shift would suggest a greater emphasis on generating newspaper, Internet and television coverage, especially in Michigan, where Romney was born and which is next on the primary calendar on Jan. 15. Romney flies to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday after a fundraiser in Boston [...]

A targeted, earned-media strategy will allow Team Romney to correctly assess the effectiveness of their messages. The data and experience that accrues from their efforts can help them increase their ROI and develop more effective messages. They will have at last organized themselves into a learning loop more closely coupled to their audiences and sources of support. They will in the very least be be spending less which will improve their image. In other words, they will have caught up with the other campaigns.

However: In the same article, Johnson also reports this:

[...] Nonetheless, Romney chided McCain and Huckabee for cherry-picking contests, with Huckabee having focused on Iowa while McCain focused on New Hampshire. Romney spent more than $7 million on advertising in each state, and held as many, if not more, events in both places than any of his GOP rivals [...]

But reports are that Romney is withdrawing staff from SC and FL to invest in MI. Also: reports indicate that Romney is scaling back his ad buys in SC and FL. In other words, Romney too has learned to cherry-pick. As we have argued elsewhere, what Romney calls “cherry-picking” is the most rational strategy in an election cycle with no clear coalition. Politics specifies itself in space—demography, geography, and ideology all intertwine and pass into one another—to build a coalition from the ground up you need to first establish a regional base.

The other candidates have staked out the parts of the map they want to contest. (The first candidate to recognize and act on the new reality was Mayor Giuliani. His strategy has yet to encounter its first real contest.)

Romney has yet to do that.

But: Evidence indicates that he now moves in that direction.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Hypothetical questions: What if Romney were to campaign on who he is instead of an invented Romney? What if Romney were to organize a rational and ethical campaign? What if Romney were to cease his grimly negative campaigning?

Answer: the governing assumptions of this web log would be all, and in an instant, overturned. And we would be forced to admit that this was the case or risk being accused of being irrational ourselves. At that moment we truly would become a Blog for Mitt as we would no longer have a case against a Romney presidency.

Question: Is such an outcome even possible?

Go Mitt!—i.e. stop lying, stop shape-shifting, stop sliming other candidates, and stop spending money that you did not raise through your own hard efforts, and go and be our President.

“WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) — Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton learned a basic truth of marketing the hard way: All the media weight in the world isn’t going to help if people don’t like the message or the product,” writes Ira Teinowitz in an Advertising Age article titled Iowa Upends Political-Ad Wisdom; Bigger Ain’t Necessarily Better, Men Can Sell to Women and Gen Y Does Know How to Caucus

[...] Not only did Iowa deliver a blow to the presumptive leaders in each party, it also roughed up a few bits of conventional wisdom. Among the marketing and political clichés that took a beating: Today’s youth are tough to reach, disengaged and won’t vote; women respond best to women; and negative advertising usually works. Oh, yeah, and the guy with the biggest spend wins [...]

[...] John Zogby, president-CEO of polling firm Zogby International, said the results signal that it’s not only the amount of advertising that determines victory but also the message. He suggested that Mr. Huckabee emerged as a likable Ronald Reagan type and that his quick rise left little time for opponents to point out any questions about his record.

“Some people caught the mood of the nation. Some people didn’t,” said Fred N. Davis III, a GOP consultant and head of Strategic Perception, Los Angeles.

Or as Mr. Huckabee put it to Jay Leno the night before the caucuses: “People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” (Mr. Huckabee also noted in interviews that his was a victory for “message over money.”)

But that’s not to say “the message” should be confused with policy positions. In essence, Mr. Huckabee was running against the establishment. Mr. Davis argues that it wasn’t so much Mr. Huckabee’s stances voters liked; it was that they disliked Mr. Romney presenting himself as an establishment candidate. Mr. Huckabee’s successful use of videos featuring Chuck Norris also helped in that regard [...]

[...] Roy Sekoff, founding editor of the Huffington Post, said in the short term, Iowa also generated a strong evangelical turnout for Mr. Huckabee, but Mr. Romney’s advertising had problems. “It seemed as though, given the extensive amount of advertising, the more they saw, the less they liked,” he said.

And Mr. Zogby pointed out that Iowan Republicans may have long ago grown tired of Mr. Romney’s ubiquitous presence. “You can advertise too much,” he said. “People get tired of seeing the same old face, and he went negative. Iowans didn’t like it.”

While Mr. Huckabee pulled his own fair share of jabs and sucker punches, many of them were thrown off the air or quickly forgotten by the media, whereas Mr. Romney’s ads were in heavy rotation.

Again, that’s not to say that advertising doesn’t work. Good advertising — or at least inoffensive advertising — should help. Mr. Obama’s $10 million broadcast buy obviously contributed to his victory. But again, it was the anti-establishment message — one similar to Mr. Huckabee’s — that Mr. Obama provided that seems to have resonated [...]

Yes. Thank you. These are strings on which we have harped for months.

In sum, you must have a message. You must have a message that connects with people. How do you know if your message is successful? ROI, children. ROI. Can your message pay for itself? Or does it require huge subsidies to—or, in Romney’s case, complete saturation—to deliver. This was our constant fixed point in our discussion of Romney: ROI.

Also remember, children, a message is subject to the laws of diminishing marginal returns JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD.

Too little stimulus and no one notices or remembers. But too much and people stop listening. What you want is the mean, the golden mean, and this is Romney’s fatal flaw: the man has no subtlety, no sense of proportion.

The most successful messages will not persist in their effectiveness, but must be continually, continuously renewed, just like everything else in nature.

About going negative: it can be effective to go negative provided that your negatives are not higher than your opponent’s, and no one’s negatives are higher than Romney’s. If they are, you lose. Here is where we explain why:

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.

“WASHINGTON (CNN) — Two negative ads recently launched by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has spent more on advertising than any other candidate, either misrepresent his rival’s records or include distortions, according to a CNN analysis of the commercials,” writes Howard Kurtz in a CNN.com release titled Analysis: Romney attack ad misrepresents facts

The ads come as the Republican air war has erupted into a series of attacks ads, just days before the Iowa caucuses on January 3, Wyoming caucuses on January 5, and the New Hampshire primary on January 8.

In one Romney television ad running in New Hampshire, the announcer calls rival Sen. John McCain “an honorable man” then goes on to ask “but is he the right Republican for the future?”

“McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently…” the announcer charges. “Even voted to allow illegals to collect Social Security.”

But the ad distorts the position of the Arizona Republican, who has narrowed Romney’s lead in New Hampshire. McCain’s compromise legislation introduced last summer, which was backed by President Bush, would have required illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and pay a fine for breaking the law before applying for legal statusmore, so much more

Would an honorable man like Romney distort the records and positions of his rivals!?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“The return on investment probably would not have impressed Mitt Romney in his former life as a cold-eyed venture capitalist,” writes the able and precise Mike Dorning for the chicagotribune.com in an article titled Romney’s big ad buys don’t pre-empt foes; So far, he’s getting little bang for buck [link, alas, requires a tedious and invasive registration, but it's worth it], a theme on which we have elaborated for months.

As of Dec. 16, the Romney campaign had spent $16 million on television advertising — more than the two leading Democratic candidates combined, according to data compiled by TNS Media Intelligence Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Yet the former Massachusetts governor is struggling in national polls against Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, who had spent $600,000 and $2.3 million respectively, according to the same data.

What does that money get you? As of mid-November, with nearly two months to go before the first votes are cast, Romney had aired nearly 17,000 TV commercials, according to the Nielsen Co. More than 7,400 of them aired in Iowa alone.

Conventional wisdom counts a well-funded television advertising offensive among the most potent weapons in a campaign. TV commercials, after all, are where most of the money goes in major political campaigns.

But particularly in the GOP primary campaign, the big spender’s ads aren’t yet showing much bang for the buck.

Yes. Further: the “Huckabee boomlet” in Iowa moved Gov. Huckabee’s numbers in other states, e.g. SC, FL, MI, and nationally. This, according to Newport of Gallup, predicts what a win for Gov. Huckabee in Iowa would achieve—other wins.

Yet when Romney’s poll numbers drifted aloft like the clouds above Iowa, Romney’s poll numbers nationally and in every state except where he advertised heavily failed to move in the least. What does this mean? More on that here:

What the Huckabee “boomlet” reveals about Romney

Back to Dorning:

Part of the explanation is the highly fluid GOP presidential contest and the unusually varied strategies the candidates have pursued to adapt their campaigns to the highly compressed primary calendar, said Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNS Media Intelligence.

And Romney’s big early advertising buys and willingness to dip into his personal fortune to fund his campaign probably made his opponents especially wary of releasing money for TV ads early, for fear that they would be unable to answer if Romney opened his wallet for a last-minute blitz, Tracey said.

“To some extent, it froze the other well-funded candidates on the Republican side,” Tracey said. “You don’t want to run out of money at the end, when the ads are perceived to be the most important.”

Yuh-huh. We predicted how the other campaigns would adapt themselves to Romney’s von Schliefflin plan.

We also predicted how Romney’s over-spending would compel other candidates to conserve and withhold:

how Romney’s early state strategy is creating conditions that resemble a general election

Back to Dorning:

The Internet also is emerging as an important component of campaign media strategies, though still not as significant as TV advertising. In many cases, campaigns are producing video ads for the Internet or seeking broader audiences for their television ads by e-mailing them to supporters or posting them on sites like YouTube.

Giuliani, whose campaign comes closest to Romney’s in funding strength, has been husbanding his resources for a strategy that concentrates on later, delegate-rich states such as Florida and then New York, California and Illinois — all dominated by media markets with high advertising costs. Those are the states where Giuliani believes Republicans are most open to a social moderate like himself.

Still, the former New York mayor’s slow start in television advertising could be contributing to his recent slip in polls.

Huckabee light on TV exposure

Huckabee went most of 2007 with few financial resources and concentrated on gaining a boost from the Iowa caucuses by cultivating support among Christian evangelicals, a constituency not as easily reached by television advertising.

“Huckabee is really a phenomenon as Republicans search for a real Republican and the religious voters search for a candidate who is supportive of their social values and consistently so. You add in the fact that he’s a rock musician and very articulate and witty,” said Bill Carrick, a Democratic media strategist.

Romney has built his campaign around a conventional strategy of building national momentum through strong showings in the three early Republican contests — Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

He started his campaign with the disadvantage of a minimal national profile while facing such well-recognized rivals as Giuliani, famous nationwide for leading New York City during the Sept. 11 attacks; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a prominent politician with a compelling life story already known to voters in early-voting states through his 2000 presidential campaign; and Fred Thompson, a former senator and actor who was a regular on the network TV show “Law & Order.”

Though Romney already had some following in New Hampshire from his tenure as governor of neighboring Massachusetts, he rose in the polls there and particularly in Iowa and South Carolina after he launched an early and robust ad campaign ahead of his opponents.

“He was an asterisk at the start of the campaign, and now he’s a front-runner. So you can’t quarrel too much with what they’ve done with advertising,” Carrick said.

Arguably, the most effective use of TV advertising in presidential primary campaigns is for just such an introductory role, allowing candidates to present themselves to voters on their own terms, with a message unfettered by the news media’s independent analysis … etc., etc.

Our question: Why has Romney’s advertising failed—why when Romney has achieved nearly complete saturation on the airwaves of Iowa does he trail the under-funded and relatively un-organized Gov. Mike Huckabee? See:

More on Romney’s ridiculously low ROI: Romney reaches total saturation in Iowa—for example, he purchased 2,000 GRPs in Cedar Rapids alone—yet he still trails perilously behind the under-funded and under-organized Gov. Mike Huckabee

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney is up with well over 1,000 gross ratings points in every major Iowa television market this week, a footprint that that is significantly larger than that of his nearest competitor,” writes Jonathan Martin for the politico.com in a post titled Romney saturating Iowa airwaves

Romney has purchased over 2,000 points on Cedar Rapids TV, just over 1,700 in Des Moines and just shy of 1,500 in Davenport. The three markets comprise the vast swath of central and eastern Iowa and are the largest in terms of Iowans reached in the state. The records were provided by a Democratic source who tracks media buys.Roughly speaking, 1,000 points means that the typical viewer will be exposed to an ad 10 times in a given week. Ad buys larger than 1,000 points are generally considered as having reached “saturation.”

Beyond these three markets, Romney also has ads up in the four cities that serve Iowa viewers (including 1,900 points in the heavily GOP Sioux City market) … etc.

Further, while Romney hemorrhages money in Iowa for continuously diminishing marginal returns, he hemorrhages credibility in New Hampshire as

(a) No newspaper has endorsed him while the more liberal Concord Monitor and the conservative NH Union Leader have un-endorsed the hapless candidate

and

(b) Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain have formed an Iowa-New Hamphshire axis, as reported by Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe in a story titled McCain, Huckabee form unusual alliance against Romney

John McCain and Mike Huckabee have become unusual allies, united by their desire to stop Mitt Romney from winning the early presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While Huckabee and McCain have repeatedly criticized Romney, they have showered each other with affection. McCain has lauded Huckabee as “a man of integrity, honesty, and decency.” And Huckabee has praised McCain as “a true, honest-to-God American hero.”

The warmth between them may be heartfelt, but both men recognize that they need each other over the next two weeks. McCain needs Huckabee to beat Romney in Iowa’s Republican caucuses on Jan. 3, so that Romney is weakened for the New Hampshire primary five days later. And Huckabee needs McCain to draw votes from Romney in Iowa. Polls indicate McCain and Romney are in a statistical tie in New Hampshire, and Huckabee is leading Romney In Iowa … etc.

We predicted long ago that other campaigns would react by acting in concert to Romney’s ill-advised attempts to shut them out of the early states:

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

By concerting their activities, Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee significantly lower the costs of engaging Romney while forcing Romney to divide and disperse his efforts to resist them.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Locked in a potentially fateful battle for evangelical Iowa caucus goers with Mike Huckabee, God-o-Meter has learned that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has enlisted prominent evangelical publicist Mark DeMoss to tape ads on his behalf for broadcast on Iowa Christian radio,” writes preposterously monikered G-d-o-Meter in a belief.net G-d-o-Meter post titled Romney Taps Top Evangelicals for New Ads

DeMoss tells God-o-Meter that he taped roughly a half-dozen such spots after landing in Iowa on Monday evening and that well-know evangelical legal advocate Jay Sekulow and pro-life activist James Bopp. Jr. have been tapped to record similar spots.

“I spoke as an evangelical southern Baptist as to why I had chosen to support Mitt Romney,” DeMoss said in an interview Monday night, noting that he penned three of the spots himself and also worked from three or four other scripts that the Romney campaign had developed. “[The ads] speak to both his values and his competence.”

DeMoss did not know which of his spots would be aired or when, but he expected Iowa Christian radio stations to begin carrying some this week. A Romney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A former chief of staff to the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell, DeMoss is founder of The DeMoss Group, a top Christian PR firm. His clients have included Billy Graham, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Promise Keepers. He has never previously appeared in an ad for a candidate for office, even for Romney. DeMoss said he’ll remain in Iowa through this Wednesday, spending time addressing pastors on Romney’s behalf.

“I’m trying to persuade pastors that it’s important that candidates share our values and that if there is more than one than one that shares our values, then I want to pick the most competent and most experienced,” DeMoss said.

“I believe there are lots of people who are supporting Governor Huckabee merely because of his faith, without regard for anything else. I’ll ask them what they know about [Huckabee] and the answer I get is that he stands up for Christ.”

“We don’t apply that standard in selecting a doctor or somebody to build our house,” DeMoss continued, “So why would we apply it to picking a president?”

DeMoss began helping Romney last year, when he suspected that a Mormon presidential candidate would meet resistance in the evangelical community. Describing one of the radio spots he taped on Monday, he said, “As a conservative evangelical Southern Baptist, I’m supporting Mitt Romney because while we worship differently on Sundays, we share common values” … etc.

Remarks:

(1) Are the Romneys obsessed with religion?—i.e. other peoples’ religions?—or: is this Romney raging against the limit of Romney’s method of co-opting the support of rivals, opponents, or adversaries, i.e. to transform himself into the person of his rival, opponent, or adversary. Examples:

Romney transformed himself into a conservative to identify himself with the same wing of his party that doomed his father’s chances at the presidency.

Romney the self-described pro-choice, social progressive transforming himself into a conservative in advance of a national election.

And: Romney has largely gotten away with it. He always has. How can you argue against someone who suddenly agrees with you, and further claims to have always agreed with you? Answer: you can’t. OTOH, you tend to regard that person with deep suspicion.

But the Evangelical movement confronts Romney with a social and political formation that—at least at the ground level, if not among the more easily suborned elites—flatly refuses to accept Romney’s attempts to identify himself as one of their own without paying in full the price for admission that they would demand of anyone who claimed to be an Evangelical: a conversion, complete with a testimony—a real conversion this time.

(2) In Romney’s “speech” Romney identified the Mormon confession with Protestant and Catholic confessions on grounds of the name and person of Jesu Christo—the testimony of the Apostles, the creeds and canons etc., got omitted, and rightly so, but even with the omission Romney had issued a theological claim as David Kuo argues:

… But it was also a profoundly spiritual speech. He said he was going to stand up for his faith and that he wasn’t going to get into the business of theology. Then he did just that. In the middle of the speech was this:

There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

In that single paragraph he blew his chance to slam the door on the pastor-in-chief idea because he was, consciously or not, making the theological argument that Mormonism was basically a part of historic Christianity. And it is, in the judgment of most liberal and conservative Christian theologians, not a part of historic Christianity. The fact that we will now be debating this is evidence of the one paragraph gaffe … etc.

This we argue is—or, at least was—the “larger project” of Romney’s “speech”. Now apparently the Romneys want to forget “the speech” and move on.

(3) Romney has wisely abandoned (2) and reverted to a far less controversial and ambitious different faiths, same values line. It issues into arguments as bland, bloodless, and non-compelling as these:

“We don’t apply [the] standard [of faith] in selecting a doctor or somebody to build our house,” DeMoss continued, “So why would we apply it to picking a president?”

Romney as a “competent” mechanic? Is this the expansive vision that an aspirant to our highest office should retail? Answer: probably not.

Question: What if your mechanic represented himself or herself to you as someone, or some thing, that they were not?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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