Posts Tagged ‘Greg Sargent’
Matt C. of race42008.com argues that Romney’s remarks about Muslims and cabinet positions is “much ado about nothing … again.” Others disagree. And even after Romney’s “clarification,” they still disagree. Regard: “The author of a much-discussed op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor — which charged that former Gov. Mitt Romney said he would likely not appoint a Muslim-American to his presidential cabinet – says Romney’s explanation for the comment is a flat out lie,” writes Sam Stein in a HuffPo post titled Author Lashes Out At Romney’s Explanation Of Anti-Muslim Rant
Mansoor Ijaz, a prominent Islamic businessman, told the Huffington Post that Romney’s comments were made in reference to possible cabinet appointments and not, as the former governor has since claimed, in the context of combating Islamic extremism.
“This guy is lying now to the American people,” said Ijaz. “He probably never imagined someone would come out and write a piece the way I did. And I think he made a serious mistake in judgment in trying to disown what he said” … etc.
Romney tell a lie? You don’t say. Meanwhile, the former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, Irma Aguirre, has gone on public record claiming that “Romney discounted appointing Muslims to his cabinet on more than just the one occasion,” as reported by Greg Sargent in a TPM | ElectionCentral post titled Exclusive: Romney Opposed Naming Muslim To Cabinet On Second Occasion, Witnesses Say
… TPM Election Central has learned that at a private fundraising lunchleon in Los Vegas three months ago, Romney said a second time he would probably not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet — and on this occasion, he made other comments that one witness described as “racist.”
The witness, Irma Aguirre, a former finance director of the Nevada Republican Party, paraphrased Romney as saying: “They’re radical. There’s no talking to them. There’s no negotiating with them.”
A second witness, a self-described local registered Republican named George Harris, confirmed her account.
The new accounts provided by the witnesses lend credence to the now-notorious account of a more recent private Romney event that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor yesterday that already caused an uproar. In that account, a Muslim businessman, Mansour Ijaz, claimed that Romney had said that based on the “numbers of American Muslims” in the country, “I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified” for a muslim … etc.
“If Mitt Romney is rising in the polls in New Hampshire, this might explain why: He appears to be spending huge sums on TV in the state, and has been doing so for some time,” writes Greg Sargent for Election Central | Talking Points Memo in a post titled Romney Spending Huge Sums On TV Ads In New Hampshire
Mitt was spending $100,000 a week through October, and he’s now upped the ante to $200,000 a week, according to a report from GraniteProf that the Romney camp has not disputed. He notes that this level of spending translates into some 200 ads per week.
It’s yet more confirmation of the extent to which the Romney camp is putting all its chips on big wins in New Hampshire (where he’s widening his lead) and in Iowa (where the race is rapidly tightening) in advance of Rudy’s predicted success on super-primary day, Feb. 5. (Via Jonathan Martin.) … etc.
Just so. Let us ponder the depth and scope of Romney’s error for a moment. From Von Clausewitz’ On War:
… It is even possible that the attacker, reinforced by the psychological forces peculiar to attack, will in spite of his exhaustion find it less difficult to go on than to stop—like a horse pulling a load uphill. We believe that this demonstrates without inconsistency how an attacker can overshoot the point at which, if he stopped and assumed the defensive, there would still be a chance of success—that is, of equilibrium. An attacker may otherwise take on more than he can manage and, as it were, get into debt …
… this is why the great majority of generals will prefer to stop well short of their objective rather than risk approaching it too closely, and why those with high courage and an enterprising spirit will often overshoot it and so fail to attain their purpose. Only the man who can achieve great results with limited means has really hit the mark … etc., etc.
Romney has vastly overshot the mark in both Iowa and New Hampshire. So much so that he has prejudiced in advance the conclusions that will be drawn from his victories, and doomed himself completely should he fall short of overwhelming victory. Hence: Boy Romney is pinned. Against Gov. Huckabee, against Mayor Giuliani, against Sen. McCain, all of whom have suddenly begun advertising whether in New Hampshire or in Iowa or both, Romney must hemorrhage disproportionately more money, more credibility, and more of his dignity, because he himself has created conditions such that a loss in either state may be fatal to his campaign. We predicted this—we predicted precisely this:
Question: has there ever been a dumber candidate? Has any candidate in the history of US political campaigns ever botched a race so badly—in advance?
“Is there any evidence that this poll contacted anyone in Iowa who was not a Romney staffer or supporter?”—asks eye of eyeon08.com in a post titled ‘Voters’ Who Broke Story on Romney Calls On Romney Payroll
If not, is there any evidence that the calls actually occurred? Could this be a story manufactured by the Romney campaign? After all, Western Wats only seems to talk through another Romney official, Justin Hart.
Second, were they directed by either Boston or Des Moines to deliver these messages? If so, were they told to hide their relationship with the Romney campaign?
Is Romney auditioning for FEMA Administrator?
Romney’s response? To stonewall and ridicule. Says Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney: Theories About Me Polling Myself Are Like 9/11 Conspiracy Theories:
A CNN reporter just asked Mitt Romney about all the theories that his campaign is behind the anti-Mormon calls. His response? Push the 9/11 button…
Key quote: “It’s the same kind of conspiracy theorists that you’re raising that say, `Oh, we brought down the World Trade Center ourselves.'”
The emphasis is ours. This is the first step of the Romney crisis protocol, to stonewall and ridicule. Byron York walks us through the full process. We append our comments below.
… In our discussion, I mentioned to Romney a similar statement by Rep. Bob Inglis, a conservative Republican congressman from South Carolina, who recently recounted a meeting he had with Romney. Inglis told him, “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“ according to an account of the conversation by Bloomberg News. “If he does that,” said Inglis, “every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences.” I wanted to know what Romney thought about that; Romney wasn’t eager to talk.
“Did Inglis say that to you?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Romney said. “He may well have.”
“You don’t recall the conversation?”
“I have a lot of conversations. I don’t recall the exact words of people, but if he says he said that, I’ll take his word for it.”
“What was your reaction?”
“I don’t recall the conversation so precisely that I can describe my exact reaction to that.”
Recall precisely. My exact reaction. Sometimes one forgets that Romney was trained as a lawyer, but not on that day. I tried one more time. “Well, okay, if you have been told that by other people, what is your reaction to the substance of what they are saying?” “You know, the term ‘Christian’ means different things to different people,” Romney told me. “Jews aren’t Christian. That doesn’t preclude a Jew from being able to run for office and become president. I believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world and is the son of God. Now, some people say, well, that doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian because Christian refers to a certain group of evangelical Christian faiths. That’s fine. That’s their view. Others say, no, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as the son of God and the Savior should be called Christian. That’s fine, too. I’ll just describe what I believe and not try to distinguish my faith from others. That’s really something for my faith to do and for the churches amongst themselves to consider” …
So: Here is the full Romney protocol as we understand it.
(1) Stonewall and ridicule: “Did Inglis say that to you?” I asked. “I don’t know,” Romney said. “He may well have.” “You don’t recall the conversation?” “I have a lot of conversations. I don’t recall the exact words of people, but if he says he said that, I’ll take his word for it.”
(2) Muddy the waters: “You know, the term ‘Christian’ means different things to different people,” Romney told me.
(3) Blur distinctions: “I’ll just describe what I believe and not try to distinguish my faith from others.”
Please note that (3) is precisely the reverse of what Inglis has asked for:
… Inglis told him, “You cannot equate Mormonism with Christianity; you cannot say, ‘I am a Christian just like you,’“ according to an account of the conversation by Bloomberg News. “If he does that,” said Inglis, “every Baptist preacher in the South is going to have to go to the pulpit on Sunday and explain the differences” …
Conclusion: The Romney protocol is designed to dis-clarify and deconstrue (dis-articulate)—it is a technique of equivocation.
Our prediction? Expect steps (2) and (3) very soon. Well, unless step (1) proves successful for the hapless candidate.
While Justin Hart continues to insist that the push-poll scandal is an non-story, stories abound. This, friends and well-wishers, is how not to manage a crisis. Note how the political primitives of team Romney allow their pursuers to develop one revelation after another, just enough to keep the story alive, just enough to justify the next wave of scrutiny.
Please understand: issuing piecemeal denials, rationales, explanations etc. in exchange for every new revelation only confirms people in their suspicions. Examples follow.
“More facts emerge that further raise questions about the Mitt Romney Phone Scandal phone calls placed to two Iowan supporters of Mitt Romney, Marshan Roth and Rose Kramer,” writes eye of eyeon08 in a post titled Iowa Romney staff/’voters’ change story
They both told reporters that they received phone calls on Wednesday of last week. Marshan Roth told the Salt Lake Tribune that she “got a call on Wednesday night.” Rose Kramer told Dave Lightman from McClatchy that she was “waiting for the TV show ‘House’ to start at 8 p.m. Tuesday when a pollster called.” However, she then told Reid Wilson from RCP that “she received around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday.”
“Deepening the mystery surrounding the anti-Mormon polling calls, the Romney campaign is confirming that it referred reporters to two recipients of the calls without disclosing that the two were also on the Romney campaign payroll, TPM Election Central has learned,” writes Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Exclusive: Romney Campaign Referred Reporters to Anti-Romney Call Recipients Without Disclosing That They Were On Romney Payroll
In response to questions from TPM Election Central, Romney spokesman Kevin Madden confirmed that the campaign had failed to disclose this info to reporters. Madden suggested that the campaign had identified them as “supporters,” which is a far cry from being directly paid by the campaign, as the two call recipients were.
The revelation could add grist to the theory — now spreading on conservative blogs and even getting coverage by news organizations — that the Romney campaign itself is behind the calls. Some have speculated that the calls — which attack Romney and refer to his Mormon faith while saying positive things about McCain — are an effort by the campaign to test negative messages about itself while getting McCain blamed for the calls.
“Yet another connection, albeit an indirect one, now ties Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to the recent spat of anti-Mormon phone calls made in New Hampshire and Iowa,” writes Huffpo’s Sam Stein in an article titled Mystery Deepens: Several Recipients Of Anti-Mormon Calls Are Romney Staffers
Several recipients of the calls, which raised questions about Romney’s Mormon faith and military deferments, are prominent supporters of the former Massachusetts governor.
Marshan Roth of Fairfield, Iowa, who is paid $500 a month as a GOTV (get out the vote) consultant for the Romney campaign, received a call on this past Wednesday night. Rose Kramer of Dubuque, Iowa, who co-chairs Romney’s Iowa faith & values steering committee and is a $1,000-a-month GOTV consultant, received a call either that same day or a day earlier, depending on conflicting reports.
Roth and Kramer are now the third members of Romney’s Iowa campaign to have publicly acknowledged received the calls. Ralph Watts, a state representative in Iowa, who also backs the former governor, was one of the first people to come forward.
And yet, during subsequent press interviews, neither Roth nor Kramer disclosed the positions they held on Romney’s team. In fact, as several other reporters have pointed out, both individuals drastically downplayed their campaign associations. And in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Roth took the opportunity to lash out against Sen. John McCain, the presidential candidate initially thought to be behind the calls.
Dear Team Romney. Either prepare to die the death of a thousand cuts, or get your lazy pear-shaped side-ways organization in gear and get out in front of this. The only way you can do that is to
(a) immediately reveal everything that you know about this,
(b) mount your own investigation promise to take action against any staffer who may be involved.
You need to position yourself as being on the side of law and order. Right now, Team Romney, your’e behaving as if you’re hiding something.
Were you anything other than a joke-campaign—and if your negatives were not higher than space—we would further recommend mounting and circulating a vigorous counter-narrative. Do you remember Prosecutor Star and the constant revalations about Monica Lewinski etc. leading up to Pres. Clinton’s impeachment? Clinton partisans has a counter-narrative that they repeated constantly: THIS IS ALL ABOUT SEX. This would not work for you, however. Your candidate’s ultra-high negatives and icy-cold humanoid persona will not support a negative message.
“The Romney campaign has sent a letter to Fox News saying that they will defy the network’s request that all the GOP campaigns ‘cease and desist’ from using Fox debate footage in ads or on their web sites, I’ve just learned,” reports a breathless Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney Defies Fox News’ Ban On Use Of Its Debate Footage
Today the Romney camp went up with a new ad bashing Hillary. As Eric Kleefeld noted below, the ad contains a smattering of that debate footage — despite the fact that Fox’s lawyers sent a letter to the GOP campaigns last week demanding that they refrain from using it.
So we checked in with the Romney campaign to see what was up. And Romney spokesman Kevin Madden confirmed that the campaign has informed Fox that they were defying the request.
Say, what? Kevin Madden gave a straight answer!? Is Sargent absolutely certain that he spoke to Madden himself?
Here is the problem for Romney: Sen. Clinton is not the only candidate who can perform horribly at a debate. See:
“A lot of people are holding out hope that if Rudy wins the GOP nomination social conservatives will organize a third party challenge from the right that will split the Republican Party,” writes Greg Sargent for TPM ElectionCentral in a post titled Top Conservative Romney Supporter: I’d Support Rudy In General Election
Prominent social conservative leaders have been suggesting as much lately in various forums.
Well, this isn’t going to give people holding out for this very much hope.
As I noted below, a top conservative backer of Mitt Romney, the prominent conservative attorney James Bopp, told me in an interview that he was outraged that conservative Senator Sam Brownback is dallying with pro-choice Rudy.
But that isn’t all Bopp said. He also told me that he thinks that if Rudy wins the nomination, a third-party challenge just isn’t a serious possiblitiy — and even said he himself would back Rudy.
“I think there are people who would consider voting for a minor party candidate rather than Giuliani if he got the nomination,” Bopp told me. “Frankly I’m not one of those. I don’t think the idea of a third party is being seriously considered by anyone” … etc., etc.
Bopp missed the memo. The Romney’s have been trying to float the rumor that disaffected Evangelicals plan to mount a 3rd party bid if Giuliani gets the nomination. Yet here is Bopp proclaiming that he himself would vote for Giuliani after he excoriated Brownback for reaching out to Giuliani. “One of the big stories of the day in GOP primary politics is conservative Senator Sam Brownback’s new and eyebrow-raising assertion yesterday that he is suddenly “much more comfortable” than before about Rudy’s abortion views. Brownback said this after meeting with Rudy yesterday,” writes Greg Sargent again only this time in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Bopp, Top Social Conservative Supporter Of Romney, Lashes Out At Brownback For Pro-Rudy Comments
Now there’s been another key development in the story.
Jim Bopp, one of Mitt Romney’s top social conservative supporters, just lashed out repeatedly at Brownback in an interview with me for his kind words about Rudy’s abortion views, accusing Brownback in scathing terms of putting “personal benefit” before the pro-life cause.
“There’s obviously something more going on here than fidelity to the pro-life cause,” said Bopp, a legendary pro-life activist and lawyer who is an important voice for Romney because he vouches for his conservatism. “Brownback is angling for some personal political benefit by cozying up to Giuliani” … etc., etc.
The emphases are ours, all ours.
So why is this allegedly “top social conservative”—whatever that means—gibbering like a frightened howler money about the honorable former mayor of NYC? Permit us to speculate:
(1) Bopp actively participated in Romney’s attempted coup at the recent so-called value voter’s summit. He appears as action step 4-days-out in Young Justin of the Heartland’s description of the communications operation.
(2) Despite massive spending on the part of the Romney’s, the value voters summit went terribly wrong. See:
- Hart: Romney campaign unmatched in its ability to execute
- out-of-touch Evangelical “leaders” stunned by Huckabee upset at the value voters summit—prepared to sigh, shrug, and coronate Romney as their Lord, G_d, and King—oh, the irony!
(3) The result?—Romney’s astonishing incompetence has effectively neutralized the Evangelical movement for this election cycle—Evangelical leaders stand divided and discredited. See:
- Pat Robertson: value voters summit represents “a narrow slice of Evangelical thought”
- eyeon08.com: “[Huckabee’s] authenticity and Romney’s phoniness seems to have stopped Romney’s forward momentum”
- Dr. Don Wilton comes to his senses: retracts endorsement of Romney—this is the same Wilton that Justin Hart boasted of in his mymanmitt post titled The Ability to Execute
(4) So where does this leave a figure like Bopp?—he is no longer useful to the Romney tribe, and he no longer has any credibility among Evangelicals. The man is spent. The man is over. Hence: his sudden incoherence. First he rails at Brownback for dissing Romney by reaching out to Giuliani. Then: he wants to re-assert his own independence from Romney by promising to vote for Giuliani.
(5) Bopp is not the only Romney sycophant already thinking post-Romney. The handwriting is on the wall. But what Bopp needs to understand is that credibility is like virginity—once it’s gone …
We offer these hypotheses in the spirit of honest inquiry.
“It’s clear the Romney campaign thinks they have a winner in their “three-legged stool” argument against Rudy, which holds that only a Republican who’s conservative on the triumvirate of national security, economic issues, and social issues can assemble a coalition that can win a general election,” opines a befuddled Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney Ratchets Up Criticism Of Rudy On Abortion, Gay Marriage
With Sam Brownback and many others beginning to predict that Rudy is doomed, and with the threat of defection from religious right leaders seeming more real by the day, the Romney crew may be on to something … etc., etc.
Just what does Mr. Sargent think Romney is “on to?”
Observe: Romney’s argument is never about Romney. It is always about Sen. Clinton. Viz: Giuliani cannot beat Clinton because “only a Republican who’s conservative on the triumvirate of national security, economic issues, and social issues can assemble a coalition that can win a general election.”
We are never asked to vote for Romney.
We are only ever asked to vote against Sen. Clinton.
Ask yourself: Why is that? Why are we being offered a deal—an exchange—a substitution? (Hypothesis: Romney has passed from denial to anger and on to bargaining. His latest arguments are an attempt to bargain with voters and GOP elites. G_d help us all when Romney passes into the depression and despair phase of the grief cycle—we will probably witness the most negative campaign in US political history.)
Here is the problem with Romney’s non-argument: even if we accept Romney’s absurd furniture metaphor and allow that “only a Republican who’s conservative on the triumvirate of national security, economic issues, and social issues can assemble a coalition that can win a general election,” it does not follow that Romney is such a Republican, or that he can convince anyone that he is such a Republican. Regard: Mike Huckabee trounced Romney at the value voters summit—he stole the show, even after Romney delivered the performance of his political career.
This is why Romney’s attacks seem so pointless, so groundless, so void of purpose—because Romney is always begging the question—he always simply assumes as true—or wants you to assume as true—the very point he’s trying to establish, i.e. his alleged conservative values. Romney is running a campaign of empty platitudes and constant attacks, writes Dean Barnett, a friend and close associate of Romney for 14 long years.
“Mitt Romney is amping up the argument that he — not Rudy — is the Republican who’s truly electable. His campaign just blasted out the following just moments ago,” writes Greg Sargent in a shamelessly pro-Romney TMP ElectionCentral post titled, preposterously, Romney: Forget Rudy — I’m The Real Electable Republican
Willard Milton Romney: STRATEGY FOR A STRONGER AMERICA: THE THREE-LEGGED REPUBLICAN STOOL
“I believe that to win the White House that our candidate has to be somebody who can represent and speak for all three legs of the conservative stool or conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan put together — social conservatives, economic conservatives and defense conservatives.” — Governor Romney
Of course, as Jonathan Martin points out, Rudy is presenting a three-legged stool of his own: National security conservatism, economic conservatism, and in place of social conservatism, Hillary-bashing, that is to say, Rudy’s claim that only he can slay her.
So what Romney’s doing with the above argument is to try to undercut not one, but two of Rudy’s campaign rationales. First, Romney’s trying to dilute the importance of national security issues as a primary driver of GOP Primary voters. And second, he’s simultaneously undercutting Rudy’s I’m-electable-against-Hillary claim by saying that only someone who meets all of these three conservative thresholds can assemble the coalition necessary to get elected President as a Republican … etc., etc.
Romney’s tired furniture metaphor aside, most agree that “conservatism has lots its coherence”; regard:
“But the base is not so happy right now,” writes eye in an eyeon2008.com post titled Just babies, guns, and taxes? Or more?
The party is angry because George Bush isn’t conservative enough. What does that mean? Taxes? Um, no. He cut those. A bunch. Babies? PBA. Judges. A huge number of executive orders. Probably not that. Guns? Well, he let the Assault Weapons Ban expire. Probably not the problem there. What are the problems? Spending. Immigration. Campaign finance reform. Etc.
When someone can count the conservative principles on one hand, I will know what it means to be conservative again. We aren’t there. We need new ideas. Some of that is a reorganization of our existing ideas. Some of it is new stuff. Time to start working … etc., etc.
This is especially true in light of the Romney Question—in light of a “suddenly conservative” super-rich person and his hireling dilettanti—a man who claims to have redefined conservatism in advance of any movement by the movement. See:
Rubens on Romney: “Beware Candidates Trying to Purchase a Conservative Label”—NH Republicans “ought to heed the attacks” by other GOPers on Romney “by remembering the the last time a wealthy businessman spent millions of his own money in a campaign to re-define himself as a conservative”
The other GOP candidates appear to have a plan of their own to address the Romney Question. Regard:
“On the trail in South Carolina last week, Giuliani said that ‘from California to New York . . . the things that hold us together as a party are a strong national defense and a strong national economy,'” reports Jonathan Martin in a Politico blog post titled Romney’s three legs vs Rudy’s two (and a half?)
So then how does Rudy keep the GOP stool upright?
It’s becoming more obvious that Rudy’s third-leg is no issue at all, but rather something more pragmatic: electability.
As Perry Bacon smartly observes in his piece from the Palmetto State, Rudy has made Hillary-bashing, and the I-can-beat-her narrative it connotes, “the third plank of his brand of conservatism in lieu of orthodoxy on social issues.”
And if McCain and Fred keep focusing their fire on Romney instead of Rudy, he may just get away with it … etc., etc.
Let us pray that he does, as this is probably the best we can hope for at the moment.
Aside: you sort of have to wonder—are the Romneys themselves asking why it is that everyone is against them?—or: do they have the presence of mind or critical self-awareness necessary to even pose such a question? We don’t know.
“Mitt Romney becomes the second GOP Presidential candidate to denounce Rush Limbaugh with this statement sent to the Huffington Post by Romney spokesman Kevin Madden,” writes Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney Becomes Second GOP Prez Candidate To Blast Rush
Romney?—is this is the same misguided candidate who compared the comfortable lives of his privileged sons to soldiers on the field of battle? See:
- latest Romney outrage: claims sons show support for their country by “helping me get elected”
- watch a hapless Romney get spanked by Deputy Sheriff Mark Riss over Romney’s claim that his sons were serving thier country by serving Romney—as opposed to say, wearing a uniform and carrying a rifle
About the effectiveness of Romney’s frequent bursts of void-of-moral-courage rage, please see:
- the reviews are in: Romney’s “grandstanding” about Ahmadinejad ineffective, counterproductive
- Romney’s inflection point—the strange rhetoric of a troubled campaign
- Romney the scold of the GOP (ii); Continetti: Romney hates fake people
Also please reflect upon what Romney’s judgments and opinions—frequently offered—say about Romney: