Posts Tagged ‘Huffington Post’

“Mitt Romney, who a month ago believed his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire were bought and paid for, is now scrambling to remain competitive in both states, continuing to outspend his adversaries by a wide margin, saturating the Iowa and New Hampshire airwaves with anti-Huckabee and anti-McCain commercials,” writes Thomas B. Edsall in an article for Huffpo titled Mitt Romney Down for the Count?

From a purely business point of view the past four weeks have marked an extraordinary setback for the Romney campaign.

Since January 1, 2007, the former Massachusetts governor has spent well in excess of $80 million, including at least $17.4 million of his own money, paying media fees in excess of $30 million, salaries of roughly $16 million, and consulting payments of more than $15 million.

This is a string upon which we have harped for months. Most recently here and here:

Back to Edsall:

Among Romney’s costly innovations this year has been putting more than 80 local conservative leaders in key states on his campaign payroll, in what amounts to a 21st Century revival of “walk-around money.”

Interesting. We would like to know who?—which “conservative leaders? What “conservative” leaders sold themselves to the Romneys? We already know a few of their names.

Back to Edsall:

For a long time – through the summer and well into November — the Romney “early state” strategy aimed at winning Iowa and New Hampshire looked as if it had paid off in spades.

From August 26 to November 27, Romney led in 26 straight polls in Iowa, sometimes by as much as 23 points. In New Hampshire, Romney saw his advantage grow to 15 points in mid-December.

Since those halcyon days, however, Romney has fallen into second place in Iowa, running roughly four points behind former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. In New Hampshire, Romney’s double digit lead has steadily eroded, while John McCain, who was trailing by 11 to 18 points at the start of December, has surged to within 3.5 percentage points.

Romney, in the assessment of most political analysts, can still pull it out. But even after accommodating social issue conservatives by abandoning his formerly moderate stance on such cultural/moral matters as gay rights and abortion, Romney finds himself struggling to convince voters that he is a legitimate conservative while simultaneously ripping into the ideological credentials of his competitors …

Romney is still losing ground on this front:

Rasmussen Reports: “Romney is now viewed as politically conservative by 38% of Republican voters and moderate or liberal by 43%—Those figures reflect an eight-point decline in the number seeing him as conservative and a ten-point increase in the number seeing him as moderate or liberal”

Edsall recounts Romney’s non-endorsements: No newspaper has endorsed him while the more liberal Concord Monitor and the conservative NH Union Leader have un-endorsed the hapless candidate.

Back to Edsall:

… Strategically, the problem for the relatively bland Romney created by both editorials is that they feed into one of his key weaknesses, a sense among voters that they do not know what he stands for.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times asked Republican voters, “Regardless of your choice for president, who do you think has been best at saying what they believe, rather than saying what they think the voters want to hear: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson?” Romney, at 8 percent, trailed the field, with Huckabee leading at 20 percent, Giuliani at 18, Thompson at 15 and McCain at 13.

Desperate to regain his advantage, Romney has sent out a mass emailing of a news story from a marginal, conservative web site that described McCain as having “a vicious, out-of-control temper;” Thompson as “sour looking” and as burdened by “a lazy streak;” Mike Huckabee as a politician known for “nastiness…bigotry…serial ethics violations and misuse of funds;” and Giuliani as the man who appointed a police commissioner later “indicted for dealings involving figures with ties to the Mafia.”

On television, Romney is sending two different messages to Iowa and New Hampshire …

… Today, however, in a sign of the dangers Romney faces, he put up a sharply negative ad …

The emphases are ours, all ours.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


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.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

In a post titled Western Wats Speaks Some More … , the intrepid Justin Hart attempts to diffuse the push-poll scandal issue:

  • … In many cases [insists Hart’s source at Western Wats] they have no idea who the end client is. (this way they don’t taint the data one way or the other)
  • [Hart’s source]indicated that he would love nothing more than a political entity to force their hand on this and reveal the client. But his hands are tied.
  • [Hart’s source] believes that if the script is ever made available that the reaction will be “Is this all? that’s not a big deal” … etc.

Yes. Only the Romneys botched their response to the issue by cynically attempting to blame the intended victim of the smear, Sen. John McCain. See:

Romney denounces decorated war veteran Sen. John McCain on issue of recently-reported push polls—no, we’re not joking—we may be laughing merrily at Romney’s oafish opportunism, but we’re not joking

This blithering-idiot level mistake resulted in a grass-roots backlash so fierce that Team Romney can neither control nor even contain it:

… “But a far more conspiratorial take is gaining steam in the blogosphere,” writes Sam Stein for HuffPo in a release titled Could Romney Be Behind the Anti-Mormon N.H. Phone Calls?

The theory is that Romney’s campaign orchestrated the scheme, in hopes that the fallout would taint GOP rivals as character assassins.

On its face it seems preposterous. But commentators, online columnists, and political blogs are giving it increasing credence. And the idea is being talked about among insiders and higher-ups.

For starters, they note, the company behind the phone calls, Western Wats, is based in Orem, Utah, and its former executive, Ron Lindorf, is the founder of the BYU School of Business; meaning the anti-Mormon calls were, suspiciously, coming from a company with strong connections to the Mormon community. In addition, Western Wats’ past client list includes several high-profile Romney supporters. The company has worked for Allan Bense, the Florida House Speaker who chairs Romney’s Florida Statewide Steering Committee, and has made calls for Michigan State Representative Gary Newell, who serves on Romney’s Michigan Leadership Team.

Then, they say, there is the money. A review of campaign finance data reveals that Hugh Black, a programmer at Western Wats has donated $500 to the Romney campaign, while Jeffrey Welch, a business manager, offered up $500 of his own. Amanda Earnshaw, a dialer (the job title is often emphasized by others) maxed out with $2,300. And Neil Hahl, who is currently on the board of American Capital Strategies, which acquired Western Wats in 2005, gave $4,600, half of which was returned.

Asked about these reports, Kevin Madden Romney’s spokesperson responded: “Citizens have a right to donate, but we would reject outright any insinuation that these [calls] are tied to this campaign.”

Comment: Way to repeat the charge, Kevin. Shades of Nixon’s (in)famous “I am not a crook!”—or Pres. Clinton’s (in)famous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski.” Are you sure you’re not a mole for a rival campaign, Kevin? Back to Stein:

Even so, some sites have noted, there are direct personal relationships between Romney and Western Wats. Teena Lindrof, the sister-in-law to the founder and chairman of the company, is reportedly a friend and supporter of the former Massachusetts governor. And back in 2002, when Western Wats was seeking reimbursements from a customer service assessment agent, it was represented by Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn LLP, the firm of G. Scott Romney, Mitt’s brother … etc.

So an event that should have, or could have been a non-event—or an event that could have redounded to Romney’s credit since he was—perhaps, we suppose—one of the intended victims of the smear—has boomeranged back on Romney, and not because of anyone else but Romney. The same boomerang effect occurred when Romney-flunkie and famous dirty-trickster Paul Weyrich tried to smear the National Right to Life Committee:

Harris: “[Romney] should understand that despite their campaign’s every effort, groups like the National Right to Life Committee’s PAC (NLRC-PAC) cannot be bought”—the Romneys get taught another painful lesson in what it means to go negative when your own negatives are astronomically high

Memo to the political primitives of Team Romney: Are you beginning to detect a pattern, you super-geniuses? Dudes!—wake up!—your negatives are too high—and your candidate is too icy-cold—to support a negative message!

Has their ever been a more fabulously funded yet totally-completely inept campaign? Do we really want this man to be our president?—we mean, really?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Mayor Giuliani has released his first commercial in NH—yes, NH. The Romneys, who had to have seen this coming, are flustered.

“Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has television ads and mailings on standby to attack Rudy Giuliani but so far has not used them because of an internal dispute about the risks of a backlash in going negative on the Republican front-runner, according to numerous sources in and close to the Romney campaign,” reports Jonathan Martin of The Politico only we found the post, titled Dissension Hits Romney Camp Over Rudy Attack Strategy, at HuffPo through a link at Wapo.

With the first caucus and primary voting just seven weeks away, some of Romney’s top backers in early states said privately they are urging his high command in Boston to start drawing sharp and hard-hitting contrasts or risk letting the former New York mayor glide to the GOP nomination on the strength of his much higher national profile … etc.

Here is the problem for Romney: his negatives are higher—far higher—than Giuliani’s. Hence: he risks self-immolation if he goes negative against a national hero.

Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“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:

About the effectiveness of Romney’s frequent bursts of void-of-moral-courage rage, please see:

Also please reflect upon what Romney’s judgments and opinions—frequently offered—say about Romney:

Romney’s language of blame indicates a personality that believes itself powerless and uncared for

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“I’m not in this race for the next step in my political career. I don’t have a political career, to tell you the truth,” Romney said during a stop at Chapman University. “I’ve only been in politics four years as a governor. I loved the experience, but my life is my wife and my family. My career was building an enterprise, a business, with some other fellows”—so says Romney himself as quoted by Glen Johnson in a HuffPo transmission titled Romney touts his business experience

Note the litotes or deliberate understatement, a figure of ethos: “My career was building an enterprise, a business, with some other fellows.” This is the Romney ethos—the latest one, the one he wants you to accept now—epitomized—it is almost as if Romney is reading from a rhetoric textbook. Here he establishes—or attempts to establish—(a) his phronesis, or practical wisdom (“my career was building a business”), (b) his virtue, or his values (my life is my wife and family), and (c) his alleged disinterest (“I’m not in this for the next step in my political career. I don’t have a political career.”).

Here is the problem: nothing connects; inconsistency, everywhere, abounds. Here is why:

“In the battle to define his presidential candidacy, the former Massachusetts governor is trying to swat away charges that he has changed positions on hot-button issues such as abortion, immigration, gun ownership and gay rights to appeal to his party’s conservative base,” writes Mary Jacoby in an article titled Romney Tries to Show Voters He ‘Gets It’; Republican Reframes Democrat-Owned Issues In Reach for the Middle.

Yet, even as he tries to distance himself from his moderate record, Mr. Romney also embraces it to reach voters in the middle — both Republicans uncomfortable with the direction of the party and independent voters he would need in a general election.

The result is that Mr. Romney’s stump speech can sound at times part Rush Limbaugh, part Bill Clinton, braiding red-meat conservative lines with feel-your-pain prescriptions for health care and retirement securitymore

Romney seeks to capture the middle—OK., fine, whatever. Only Romney never captured the base. Conventional wisdom specifies that a candidate first capture the base of his or her party—or develop a base or a coalition—and only then pivot and attempt to occupy the center or as much of the center as the candidate can capture. Romney, as yet, has no base, has no coalition—Romney has nothing, and what little he has is slipping away. Yet here is Romney, all alone, pivoting and pirhouetting as he enlarges on center-left issues and concerns all the while insisting that he is not just a conservative, but a staunch conservative. (We, by the way, were conservative way back when Romney was voting for Paul Tsongas in a Democratic Primary. To be lectured to about conservatism by this obviously ill-informed newcomer—i.e. Romney—is somewhat galling.)

Further problem: Romney’s lurch to the right in the form of a caricatured and unreconstructed conservatism—a mock-conservatism that takes the form of scolding other candidates for their lack of conservatism, or of railing on largely symbolic and cultural issues—alienates moderates and independents, the very people that Romney is alleged by Jacoby and the Romneys themselves to be positioned to persuade into a broad-based coalition.


Here is a thought: if moderate and independent votes are Romney’s true object, why did he not start with them? Why did he not try to build a base on their support and only then reach out to conservatives once he had the numbers to argue his case? Was it Romney’s famous arrogance or alienation? Or did Romney truly believe that movement conservatives were gibbering idiots moved only by empty symbol and vain gesture?

So: Go ahead, Romney, rail at Ahmadinejad in your noisy stump-speech jeremaids or in your scolding op-eds. This only helps you appear reasonable, as any reasonable person should oppose a figure like Ahmadinejad. This does not help you appear conservative or leader-like.

We concur with Romney’s claim: he has “no political career.” His instincts and habits of mind are simply not those of a politician, or even those of one who is accustomed to being being challenged or disagreed with.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.