Posts Tagged ‘onlineWSJ.com’
[…] “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?
“LONG BEACH, Calif. — Mitt Romney hopes to revive his Republican campaign by championing himself as the last true conservative contender,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in a online.wsj.com article titled Romney’s Comeback Plan Trumpets His Conservatism
“We’re quite far apart,” Mr. Romney said of John McCain yesterday at a news conference here. “That distinction is what will, in the final analysis, be my best weapon in a battle to the finish.”
To survive in the race, Mr. Romney must stop Arizona Sen. McCain’s momentum on Tuesday, when 21 states select among Republican candidates. So far, Sen. McCain has won in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, while Mr. Romney has taken Michigan and Nevada […]
We discuss and criticize Romney’s latest incarnation here.
Here we want to develop the race to the base theme.
In an earlier transmission, we developed and describe this particular stage of the primaries contest as the race to the base. Here be our account with updates and annotations provided largely by the crack bloggers of race42008.com.
Our analysis: Here begins the race to the base, friends and well wishers. Sen. McCain will, we predict, begin to reach out to conservative personalities (right wing shock jocks, talking heads, celebrities, talking heads), professional conservatives (writers, analysts, columnists, editors, think tank researchers), conservative activists, issues coalitions, pressure groups etc. But now he can reach out to them from a position of power, having developed reliable evidence of
(a) his fitness as a candidate,
(b) his fitness as a developer of issues and a builder of coalitions.
Now Sen. McCain has something to offer the base: the influence that flows freely from proximity to power. This is how the primary process as political ritual is supposed to work. It reduces to a barter economy, a patron-client system of tribute where the coin is power and the exchange rate can be murderous.
This is largely coming to pass as we predicted—e.g. LJ provides pro-Sen. McCain quotes from conservative luminaries Grover Norquist, Romney shill Tony Perkins, and Richard Land.
Back to our earlier analysis:
Romney for his part will reach out to the base too, frantically, desperately, if only to counter Sen. John McCain. But Romney’s position is more tenuous, more perilous. Romney can only issue threats and dire assessments of a Sen. McCain presidency—in simpler terms, Romney’s task, as Romney himself describes it, is “to drum up old conservative distrust of McCain”—i.e. Romney’s task is to slime Sen. McCain so badly that he cannot win.
This is also developing as we had predicted. Romney surrogates and shills are frantically retailing the following themes
(a) “If Sen. McCain wins, I will vote for Hillary,” e.g. Romney shill Ann Coulter
(b) “Sen. McCain once considered running as a Democrat,” as debunked and criticized by Kavon Nikrad of race42008.com.
Will Tribe Romney win the day? Is Tribe Romney willing to destroy the GOP to put Romney in the White House? History will answer these question for us.
[…] “TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney lost three of the first five big Republican contests and lags behind in most major state and national polls. Yet he is still widely seen as a credible contender for the nomination thanks mainly to one trait: his wallet,” writes ELIZABETH HOLMES for online.wsj.com in an article titled Romney’s Wallet Keeps Him in the Race
A senior aide to Mr. Romney says the millionaire investor plans to spend as much as $40 million in the campaign. Mr. Romney spent $17.4 million of his own money on his campaign through the third quarter of last year, according to the Federal Election Commission.
At a time when some campaigns are running dangerously low on funds, Mr. Romney’s ability to self-finance will make it difficult to count him out of the race until the very end […]
Here is the problem with Holmes’ account: the US$17.4 million figure goes back 2 months. How much Romney actually spent of his own money in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and now Florida, is unknown, and will remain unknown:
“In recent months Mitt Romney, whose personal fortune is estimated to be as much as a quarter of a billion dollars, blanketed the airwaves of Iowa and New Hampshire with dozens of campaign advertisements,” write the editors of the Washington Times in an article titled Romney and his money
[Romney] clearly has spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he steadfastly declines to say how much. The Romney campaign suffers from a glaring transparency deficiency, which it should address at once.
Mr. Romney has every right to bankroll his presidential campaign with his own money. No argument here. But why has he refused to tell voters how much of his personal fortune he has funneled to his campaign since the end of the third quarter?
On Jan. 4, the day after Mike Huckabee defeated Mr. Romney in Iowa, this newspaper asked the Romney campaign to say how much Mr. Romney had personally contributed since Sept. 30. During the first nine months of last year, Mr. Romney had given his campaign $17.4 million, about 90 percent more than the $9.2 million in the campaign’s cash-on-hand on Sept. 30 […]
Yet the Romneys refuse to release their fourth quarter numbers until the filing deadline of Jan. 31. This date falls after the primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida.
Also from the article, Romney’s fund raising “declined from US$20.8 million in the first quarter to US$13.9 million in the second, to less than US$10 million in the third.”
Romney increased his own contributions to compensate.
Transparency issues? Is this how Romney will run our government?
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — For months, there has been an open secret among insiders working in or covering the 2008 Republican campaign: The rival candidates despise Mitt Romney,” writes Jonathan Martin in a Politico.com article titled Rivals pile on Romney
After Saturday night in New Hampshire, it’s no longer a secret. The contempt was obvious, and relentless. And it was harnessed for clear strategic purposes at the debate. Everyone — even candidates who don’t seem to be in the center of the New Hampshire action — felt it was in their interest to pile on the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney may have been knocked from front-runner status in Iowa, but this night he was at the center — of a rhetorical firing squad. Four of Romney’s Republican opponents joined together to put him through a grueling evening, taking turns offering derisive quips and questions about his authenticity and throwing him on the defensive at a critical moment for his campaign […]
[…] Combined it was a brutal gang attack, the likes of which have been unseen in any previous debate.
And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Romney. With two new New Hampshire polls out showing him now down 6 points in this critical state, he needed to set himself apart tonight.
He had hoped to sound his outsider message and discuss his private sector credentials.
Instead he looked rattled at times, unprepared for the waves of attacks.
After McCain’s final salvo, he seemed to plead for mercy: “The continued personal barbs are interesting but unnecessary” […]
Romney is the establishment candidate. He bought and paid for that singular distinction.
So: What do you call it when all of your other candidates rebel against—and concert their arguments against—your party establishment in the person of the establishment candidate?
These are not good times for the conservative institutions—talk radio, new media, The National Review etc.—who joined their fortunes to those of Willard Milton Romney.
abcnews.com’s Rick Klein concurs with Martin:
[…] But I saw that as a pretty bad night for Mitt Romney. I think he was outflanked on immigration by McCain and Giuliani — that’s not easy to do. And you can tell that nobody on that stage likes him. He’s a frontrunner here, so he can expect the heat, but so is John McCain, and yet everyone rushed to defend McCain and attack Romney. Why would Romney say he likes mandates? How could he have let Fred Thompson best him on a debate over healthcare? Just a few of the many questions he’s going to have to sort out, against the backdrop of some McCain momentum in New Hampshire? […]
Team Romney concurs too, as eye of eyon08.com argues:
[…] only two surrogates were in the spin room: Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan. None of the national surrogates in town. No Senator Judd Gregg, Romney New Hampshire campaign chairman. Where was Judd?
That leads me to my second fact. Judd Gregg was the first person to leave the debate. […]
We long ago predicted that the other campaigns would concert their efforts to defeat Romney. Events continue to confirm our surmise:
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney absorbed repeated attacks from his rivals tonight, as competitors joined in common cause to take down the one-time New Hampshire frontrunner,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com article titled McCain Leads Attack on Romney in New Hampshire Debate
The harshest blows during the ABC News/Facebook debate came from Arizona Sen. John McCain, Mr. Romney’s fiercest opponent in this first-in-the-nation primary state. Mr. Romney, who was badly beat in Iowa Thursday, has been campaigning ever since as a “change agent” able to fix Washington.
But Mr. McCain turned his words on him, derisively referenced his changing positions on social issues, calling him the “candidate of change.” Later, during a discussion of immigration, Mr. Romney complained about being misquoted. Mr. McCain responded: “When you change…positions on issue from time to time, you will get misquoted.”
The attack on Mr. Romney continued throughout the evening in the only Republican debate to fall between Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s contests. The assault came not just from Mr. McCain but from other Republicans in the hunt as well: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Although each is fighting his own battle, the quartet appeared united in trying to eliminate Mr. Romney from the race sooner rather than later […]
Romney for his part would be well advised to suck-it-up. For Team Romney it may be useful to study Sen. Clinton’s attempts to play victim after a similar debate debacle.
Her complaints were counterproductive.
“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 onlineWSJ.com 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 security … more
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.
- Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates
- Newport and Carroll: Post-Ames, Romney’s unfavorables higher than ever
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.