Posts Tagged ‘LA Times’

[…] “I have covered a lot of presidential campaigns, and I can’t think of one that so lost its way-so expensively-as that of the former governor of Massachusetts,” writes Howard Fineman in a newsweek.com article titled Burying Mitt; Romney failed because he ran as something he’s not

A board room and business favorite, a man with a Midas managerial touch, he was widely admired and even beloved. But he was a Republican of an old moderate school-that of his own father-and, like George W. Bush, Romney the Younger decided that he had to jettison all that he was to become something that he was not.

And so it was that this square peg spent perhaps $80 million-including at least $30 million of his own money-trying to pound himself into a round hole. It didn’t work. The irony of his failed campaign: if he had just stuck to selling his managerial mettle, he might well have won the nomination, given the way the country’s economic anxieties have become voters’ number one concern.

Even as conservative radio talk-show hosts reluctantly settled on him as their savior, they were uneasy about it and about his previous record of social moderation and fiscal flexibility. They sold him hard in the last few weeks, but to no avail. Romney won his home state and the states in the West where Mormonism was familiar, but not much else.

The quality of being genuine is hard to convey, and deciding who should be president based solely on that basis can lead to disaster; you need brains and an ability to go with the flow as well. But voters know a phony above all and Romney came off as one from the get-go. Over the last decade he had changed his views in a rightward direction on so many issues to suit what he thought he needed to win the GOP nomination that he ended up standing for nothing but his own ambition […]

More on this theme from Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times staff writer, in an LA Times article titled Romney failed the ‘authentic’ test; The GOP establishment had high hopes for the former Massachusetts governor, but among voters he never overcame charges that he had flip-flopped his way through his political career

WASHINGTON — For many Republican insiders, it was love at first sight: Mitt Romney had an exquisite resume, a command of the issues and boatloads of money to finance a presidential campaign. As Romney started wooing support in Washington, some lawyers and lobbyists were so smitten that they endorsed him after meeting him only once or twice.

But the collapse of Romney’s campaign contains an important reminder that what impresses in political backrooms does not always impress voters. A long list of political assets, and the support of party leaders, is not enough to make up for a failure to connect with voters and to deliver a clear, consistent message.

Although much of the Republican establishment called him an authentic conservative, Romney, in his appeals to voters, never overcame charges that he had flip-flopped his way through his political career — on abortion, gay rights and other issues of importance to those he was hoping to win over.

“People fundamentally understand where John McCain and Mike Huckabee are coming from. But in Mitt Romney’s case, that was harder to discern,” said Terry Holt, an advisor to President Bush’s 2004 campaign. “There is too much uncertainty about who Mitt Romney really is” […]

Yet more on this theme from Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com release titled Romney’s screen test falls flat

WASHINGTON — Throughout his 18-month bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney tried his best to play the part.

He looked the part, with his perfectly coifed hair and crisp blue suits. He sounded the part, shaping his stump speech around cries to reinstate Reagan’s three pillars of the Republican party. And he acted the part, spending nearly a year campaigning heavily in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

But in the end, Mr. Romney didn’t fit the part. Amid cries from critics of changing stances on key issues, the former governor of Massachusetts never connected with voters. He devised a message that alienated party stalwarts. And although he was the first to air negative ads against opponents in Iowa, the millionaire investor proved weak at blocking his rivals’ last-minute punches.

The result: a dismal performance in the coast-to-coast primaries on Tuesday, the moment that Mr. Romney, who lost Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, needed to shine. The passion he lacked on the campaign trail instead came during his concession speech, when he suspended his candidacy. Fighting back emotion, he told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference here that he was withdrawing “for our party and our country.”
Mitt Romney stepped out of the race Thursday, saying that by staying in the race he “would be aiding a surrender to terror.”

From the beginning, Mr. Romney had much to prove. With little name recognition, he was known as “the Mormon” candidate with a pro-choice past. As a result, Mr. Romney, co-founder of private-equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC, approached the race as a science, not an art. After Mr. Romney began publicly discussing a bid in late 2006, his advisers drew up a list of benchmarks and went about devising a schedule to reach those goals. In the process, they overlooked the need to ignite passion and fire […]

Please note the contradictions in these accounts. The same man spent nearly US$40 million dollars on his own money on his campaign, went so viciously negative on his rivals that they concerted their efforts against him, and in the end planned to engineer a brokered convention and nullify the expressed views of the primary voters by targeting promised but technically unbound delegates—yet Romney lacked passion or fire?

The man nearly tried to pull a Guy Fawkes on the GOP and he lacked fire?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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[…] “Just as surely as Obama’s campaign has surged since his Iowa speech, Romney’s has suffered since he failed to say what needed to be said in Texas a month ago,” writes the estimable and insightful Tim Rutten in an LA Times article titled A tale of two speeches

From the start, the former Massachusetts governor has had to cope with the problem of religious bigotry. One in four Americans say they’re reluctant to vote for a Mormon. That antipathy runs even higher among evangelical Protestants, who make up most of the GOP’s social-conservative wing.

In December, Romney attempted to emulate — in an attenuated fashion — John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 appearance before a group of Protestant ministers hostile to the notion of a Catholic president. Kennedy hit the issue head on, mentioning his Catholicism 14 times, forthrightly embracing separation of church and state and promising to resist any attempt by the church hierarchy to dictate his conduct as an elected official.

Instead of addressing the issue forthrightly, as Kennedy had, Romney temporized and attempted to placate the religious right by soft-pedaling his own faith — which he mentioned only once — and by attacking secular humanism and proclaiming his own belief in Jesus Christ.

It wasn’t simply pandering, it was oddly bloodless. How, for example, could a Mormon candidate for the Republican presidential nomination fail to mention that his party’s very first national platform was built on two planks — the abolition of slavery and the elimination of Mormonism, both of which those first Republicans deemed “barbarous?” How could he not take the opportunity to remind his handpicked Republican audience that, as recently as the 1890s, thousands of Mormon men were arrested and imprisoned by the United States Army or that the U.S. Senate refused to seat a lawfully elected member from Utah because he was a Mormon?

Rather than do those things, he attempted to ingratiate himself to that very sector of popular opinion in which anti-Mormon prejudice remains most intact. In the process, he helped legitimize fundamentalist preacher-turned-pol Mike Huckabee’s naked appeals to Christian voters in Iowa. It’s a pitch Romney — and America — are likely to hear a lot more of in South Carolina and beyond, where the evangelical vote is even stronger […]

We heartily concur. We argued early on that it was Romney who made Gov. Huckabee’s rise in Iowa even possible. See:

Romney’s absurd marketing strategy enables Gov. Mike Huckabee

Romney’s “speech” sealed the hapless candidate’s fate in Iowa and the South, and it never had to be that way.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

Kevin Tracy cites and quotes from the LA Times article that specifies Romney and Bain Capital’s use of off-shore tax havens.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Wisely, in his speech Romney will not seek to explain any Mormon doctrine which, for instance, according to some, places the Garden of Eden somewhere in Missouri,” writes Andrew Malcolm for the LA Times blog, Top of the Ticket, in a post titled What Mitt Romney will say about faith

Just as in his 1960 speech to Baptist ministers confronting the Roman Catholic issue (also in Texas), John F. Kennedy did not seek to explain how his wife Jackie was descended from a rib of Adam’s and what in the world Noah did with all that manure on the Ark. Kennedy had one advantage going for him: about 28% of the country’s population then was Roman Catholic. Today, about 2% is Mormon …

… Romney’s longest campaign discussion of faith, which aides point to as a model for Thursday’s speech, came earlier this fall when the candidate told CBS’s Bob Schieffer:

“What I can tell you is that the values of my faith are founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and the same kind of philosophy that`s associated with other Christian faiths and the Jewish faith and others is very much consistent with ours. The view that there is a God that created us, that all the children on Earth are of the same, if you will, divine origin, that the loss of one life anywhere is the loss of a fellow son or daughter of God, that liberty is a gift of God. These fundamental principles are the same faith to faith.”

Romney said he wasn’t asking people to vote for his church but to look at the candidate and his conservative values. “By and large,” he said, “people will make their decision not based on where you go to church but instead based upon your values, your vision for the country and your ability to actually help the country at a time of great need.”

Romney added:

“I accept the teachings of our church, and I do my best to live by those teachings. It hasn`t made me perfect. I`m far from that. But I`m probably a better person than I would have been and my kids are better than they would have been without faith. And you know, I don`t try and be critical of other people`s faith. Actually, I`m of the view that religious individuals have an enormous advantage in stability in their life. And I respect the work that`s being done by ministers of all faith. I think it draws people closer to God and makes us better people” …

Comment: What Romney proposes to say is reasonable but unremarkable. And he has said it before. So how is “the speech” supposed to save Romney’s candidacy? But this is not the question that interests us.

Here is the question that interests us: Why are Grrr-Romney’s “aids” leaking the technical specifications of the Romney inoculation script in advance of its delivery?

Answer: Because Romney has completely lost control of the message. Hence the frantic transmissions of Romney’s B-string flaks to every journalist who will listen. Hence their willingness to reveal specifics of the speech at the risk undermining the impact of the speech’s actual delivery.

Here is the problem for Romney: When Romney first began to emit his great noise about his great speech on his great faith he granted tacit permission to every voice in the media to begin urgently inquiring into the Mormon issue, and to speculate on the question of why Romney’s Mormon confession could be a problem. This line of questioning inevitably leads to a discussion of the Mormon confession itself. Here is but one example:

“BOSTON (Reuters) – From baptism of the dead to a ban on coffee, Mormonism’s doctrines are alien to many Americans and that is unlikely to change when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gives a long-awaited speech on his faith this week, religious scholars say,” or so writes the curious Jason Szep in a Reuters release titled Romney to walk fine line in Mormon speech

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the sect based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is formally known, is the fourth-largest U.S. religion and one of the richest, with 12.9 million members globally and an estimated $5 billion in annual revenue. More than half live outside the United States ….

… It bans alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee. It maintains there is no eternal hell, the dead can be baptized and that God speaks through living apostles and prophets such as the church’s current president, Gordon Hinckley … etc., etc.

Memo to the geniuses at Team Romney’s posh waterfront headquarters: with crack communicators like you, Romney doesn’t need rival candidates to bring him down.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“WASHINGTON — With a massive marketing effort, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has tried to introduce himself as a family man with a solid marriage, five wholesome sons and the moral values desired by the Republican Party’s most conservative voters,” writes Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, in a story titled Authenticity is Romney’s biggest hurdle, poll suggests

But now that voters have met him, many are ready to offer an opinion: They still do not know who he is.

Some voters are holding Romney’s Mormon heritage against him, rivals and supporters of Romney acknowledge. But a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll shows that his deeper problem is not his adherence to a faith that many conservative evangelicals view with skepticism.

Instead, Romney has not overcome a record of shifting views on abortion and other social issues. His failure to present a clear picture of his faith and its role in his life appears to be just one part of a broader challenge: proving to GOP voters that he is being straightforward with them.

Romney’s predicament is underscored in the new poll, which found that he ranked last when Republican voters were asked which of the top-tier GOP candidates were “best at saying what they believe, rather than saying what they think the voters want to hear.”

Just 8 percent said Romney was best at saying what he believes, compared with 18 percent for Rudolph W. Giuliani, the national front-runner, and 20 percent for Mike Huckabee, who has sprung from near obscurity to a leading position in Iowa.

Although Romney has scheduled a speech for Thursday in Texas to address questions of faith, the new survey suggests that the broader authenticity question is more damaging to his candidacy than religion itself.

Some 13 percent of Republican voters in the Times/Bloomberg poll said Romney’s Mormon faith made them less likely to vote for him, including 8 percent who said it made them “much less likely” to do so.

But 10 percent said Romney’s religion made it more likely they would support him. And 73 percent said it made no difference.

“The religion part has never bothered me,” said poll respondent Jenelle Pritchard, 43, a school administrator from Omaha, Neb., who is an observant Catholic and has decided to support Huckabee. “But with Romney, I really don’t know where he stands. You can transform yourself, but why are you transforming yourself?” … etc.

The emphases are ours, all ours. Conclusion: The Romney bubble—as in market bubble—has burst. Note how the journalists are not asking if Romney’s support is weak, but why.

For more on this theme see:

Selzer: “What people don’t seem to realize is that Romney’s support has been pretty soft all along—Romney was sort of there by default. He spent a lot of money. He got a lot of attention—He has many of the appearances of a good candidate and a good president, except that when people really think about it, there’s someone else they’d rather have”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA — — Facing fresh polls showing their leads in Iowa disappearing, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney rolled out new campaign tactics Sunday in an aggressive push to regain lost momentum,” writes LA Times staffers Peter “bury the lead” Nicholas assisted by Peter “Clueless” Wallsten in an LA Times article titled Romney, Clinton shake up tactics; As they slide in polls, he plans to speak on his religion, while she draws pointed differences with rival Obama

… Romney announced that he would deliver a speech Thursday on religion, a subject that he has been reluctant to touch despite growing signs that voters are leery of putting a Mormon in the White House. As recently as last week, Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, said in an interview that he was beseeching his father to give such a speech but had yet to persuade him …

NOTA: the elderly Nicholas and his ambitious young intern, Wallsten, link “the speech” to Team Romney’s agony in Iowa, a trope that has emerged as the consensus. Yet further testimony to Romney’s disastrous timing.

… that Romney and Clinton would shake up the playbook with the caucus just a month away underscores the worry in both camps.

“It’s really without precedent,” said Gordon Fischer, a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. Fischer, who is backing Obama, said: “They’re both very, very concerned. They were the front-runners who are no longer front-runners” …

The 2 Peters conclude on this theme:

Romney’s challenge with evangelicals was evident last week when he appeared flummoxed by a question during the CNN-YouTube candidates debate about whether he believed the Bible was true. He seemed to rely on legalisms to work through an issue that he knew to be sensitive. “You know — yes, I believe it’s the word of God, the Bible is the word of God. . . . I mean, I might interpret the word differently than you interpret the word,” he said.

Former White House official Kuo saw Romney’s response as a missed opportunity.

“He easily could have taken that question and in some ways put the faith issue to rest,” Kuo said. “And instead he just added fuel to the fire” … etc.

Kuo’s argument anticipates Brody’s

Brody: Romney’s answer to bible question “problematic”

Kuo’s theme of missed opportunity anticipates our own analysis

how Romney botched the Mormon-Kennedy-speech issue by setting up impossible expectations, by consistently failing to identify opportunity and seize the initiative, and by allowing others to frame the debate

yours &c.
dr. g.d.