Posts Tagged ‘reuters’

“From the day he announced his candidacy, observers have noted that Mitt Romney ‘looks presidential,’ yet this appearance advantage did not particularly help Romney in the early primary states,” writes Ana Marie Cox in a article titled Romney’s Cash Advantage Sinks In

In Iowa and New Hampshire, states where voters expect — and usually receive — face time with every candidate, Romney came across on the stump as stilted and rehearsed. Voters flocked instead to the personality rich and cash poor campaigns of Mike Huckabee and John McCain […]

[…] The good news for Romney is that in the larger, more diverse state of Florida, most voters won’t have a chance to make that up close judgment. If Romney is able to surge past John McCain here in the state’s primary on Jan. 29 — and most recent polls have McCain with a very slight lead — it will most likely be due to his ability to spend freely on expensive advertising throughout the state.

Throughout the primary season, Romney has been accused of trying — though often failing — to buy elections. But Florida is the first state money really can buy. “Romney is the only one [of the four major candidates] who has the money on hand to go on the air in our 10 major media markets,” says Daniel Smith, a professor of political science at the University of Florida. “For everyone else, it’s cost prohibitive to run a media campaign in Florida. It’s completely different from New Hampshire, Iowa or Michigan.”

As in every other state contest thus far, Romney is far outspending his Republican rivals on paid advertising. In Iowa he spent more than Huckabee by a ratio of 7 to 1, while in New Hampshire and South Carolina, he spent more than McCain by at least 5 to 1. And in the past month, one rival campaign estimates that Romney has spent twice the amount spent by any other candidate. He has also worked to gain an advantage in what consultants call “earned media” — the free, generally friendly local news coverage that a candidate generates by swinging through town. On that front, he’s made high-profile visits to the state since 2005 — when he had an off-the-record meeting with then-Governor Jeb Bush, several of whose former staffers work for Romney today. Thursday evening’s surprisingly civil GOP debate played to his strengths as well: on camera, Romney came across as prepared, not scripted.

Florida may be a diverse state, but Romney makes much the same appeal to all Floridians; an unshakeable belief in reuniting the “Reagan coalition” of social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives. Romney staffers seem confident that the governor can attract the social conservatives and evangelicals who have been supporting Huckabee —who has greatly reduced his presence here since his loss in South Carolina — along with a good chunk of the fiscal conservatives for whom Romney’s private sector background has an almost mystical appeal […]

[…] Still, Romney advisers do have some basis for their optimism about Tuesday’s race. The Florida GOP primary is the first “closed” primary in the country; only registered Republicans can vote. McCain, while pulling a fair share of registered Republicans in other states, has been put over the top by independents. As national spokesman Kevin Madden puts it, “There is no refuge in the independent vote in Florida.” But fortunately for Romney, there is some refuge from too much face-to-face, retail politics in the Sunshine State […]

Yes. Passing in review, (a) Romney fails to mobilize voters when he is forced to actually meet them and talk to them—i.e. in retail politics or F2F Romney fails to impress, or, worse, he mobilizes support for his rivals. Hence (b) in large, diverse states where retail politics and F2F contact is less decisive, Romney enjoys a potentially decisive advantage because (c) his vast and personal reserve of cash allows him to reach more voters in a more controlled way, by means of controlled, scripted, and focus-group tested television advertising.

You would think the Romneys would want to suppress such unflattering, almost despairing analysis. But no, even their supporters—e.g. Mitchell of Evangelicals for Mitt—argue the same case, exactly the same way (see the point, counterpoint link below). Apparently Cox and Mitchell are rehearsing their lines from the same talking points memo. (Either that or this is an emerging fixed point in the discussion of Romney’s fitness but we sort of doubt it.) Here is where we discuss and criticize the Cox-Mitchell “Romney wins when Romney is a talking head on a television screen” trope:

point and counterpoint on Romney’s viability with commentary

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


[…] “The former Massachusetts governor, who made a fortune as a venture capitalist before entering politics, said he saw a worrying trend in growing numbers of U.S. banks seeking capital offshore following a blowout in subprime mortgages,” writes Jason Szep with editing by Lori Santos, in a release titled Romney warns of distressed markets

He stopped short of predicting some banks would face the risk of insolvency. But in a speech earlier to Florida’s Jewish Republican community he said he had been warned of such a crisis.

“We were talking about the credit crisis and how bad the credit crisis was and how to make sure the credit crunch is not spread, and someone sent a message back that said the credit crisis is so 2007 — 2008 is a solvency crisis,” he said.

“And that’s obviously a very fearful perspective and hopefully one that does not rear its ugly head in reality. But people are talking about institutions having difficulty maintaining their level of capital,” he added.

Stocks tumbled at the open on Tuesday, joining a global equity rout on fears of a U.S. recession. Investors dumped stocks despite the Federal Reserve’s slashing benchmark interest rates by 75 basis points in a surprise decision.

Romney is in a close four-way race in Florida where the primary on January 29 is the next test in the state-by-state battles to determine the Republican and Democratic candidates who will square off in November’s presidential election.

The multimillionaire former venture capitalist has retooled his campaign to emphasize his nearly 25 years of business experience that includes founding Bain Capital LLC, a successful Boston-based private-equity firm, in 1984 […]

Yes. More on Romney’s Bain Capital:

Romney’s “Bain Capital is partnering with China’s Huawei Technologies in a buyout of 3Com, the U.S. company that provides the technology that protects Pentagon computers from Chinese hackers”—is this the economic policy we can expect from Romney?—answer: yes.

And more on Romney’s relationship to the global crash:

Samuelson: “it is becoming clear that capitalism’s most dangerous enemies are capitalists”—our conclusion: capitalists like Romney

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“NASHUA, N.H., Jan 6 (Reuters) – Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney said on Sunday he would balance the U.S. budget deficit within “a few years” if he won the 2008 race for the U.S. presidency,” writes Jason Szep in a reuters release titled Romney says would balance budge in “few years”

Asked by a voter at a rally in the southern New Hampshire city of Nashua whether he would balance the budget by March 2009 if elected, Romney said he wouldn’t give a timetable because of the cost of financing the U.S. war in Iraq […]

This is beneath comment. So let’s consider another point.

“At the Intrade Prediction Market, Romney has dropped to fourth place with only a 12.6% chance of winning the Republican nomination, behind McCain (who is now the favorite), Giuliani, and Huckabee,” writes the writer of Half Sigma in a post titled Time for Romney to withdraw?

When Romney loses to McCain in New Hampshire tomorrow, it’s time for him to withdraw. If he can’t win New Hampshire, which is sort of a suburb of Boston, where is he going to win besides in Utah and Massachusetts? […]

We’re beginning to wonder about what Romney’s plan truly is. The so-called “data driven” candidate must know by now that the primary process—as it is conventionally construed—will not support a Romney nomination. Here may be the secret of Romney’s intentions:

[…] “Romney’s campaign team is already preparing their Wolverine State campaign and they’ve already filled his schedule with retail events there, hitting conservative-dominated western Michigan for the first few days before turning to population centers like Detroit and Lansing,” Jonathan Martin and Jim VandeHei in a feast-for-the-mind titled Romney dials down expectations hard
In mail and TV spots there, they’ll drive the candidate’s change message, and if he loses here, they will continue to contrast with McCain on Washington experience, immigration and taxes.Should Romney’s New Hampshire loss be close, an adviser previewed their spin as: “Look at our body of work over 10 days. We came in first in Wyoming and second in Iowa and New Hampshire. Who else can match that?” […]

Translation: In what Team Romney specifyies as Romney’s receding regional stronghold strategy, you can detect the outlines of Romney’s new national strategy. It consists in fighting to remain a player until the convention, accumulating delegates by means of grim attrition. It is a hard, despairing, and enormously expensive strategy.

Think of it this way: the task of the primary campaigner is to develop the coherent story of a message passing into a general movement from the fragmented, particular, and variable character of the contests themselves. Romney’s strategy now becomes the precise opposite. He must simultaneously

Resist like grim death the other candidates’ attempts to beat their way out of their regional redoubts—holding them off until the convention


Eke out as many victories, near-victories, or rationales for non-victories (Iowans are religious bigots!) as possible to maintain the semblance of vialbility—again: until the convention

For Romney to prevail, he needs to develop disorder, disunity, and fragmentation. How do you accomplish this?—relentlessly negative campaigning. Every one must get slimed beyond viability. This is what happens in a game when you have a player who neither respects the game nor even the field it’s played on.

Meanwhile: expect lots more grandiosity from the hapless candidate as he fights to stay in the headlines.

yours &c.
dr g.d.

“JOHNSTON, Iowa — As a new Des Moines Register poll showed him trailing Mike Huckabee in Iowa, Mitt Romney also launched a fresh attack, criticizing the former Arkansas governor for suggesting that President Bush did not read the National Intelligence Estimate for four years,” writes the estimable Michael Levenson of the Globe Staff in an article titled Romney opens new line of attack and dated 1, 2008 01:40 PM

“That’s obviously completely inaccurate and wrong.,” Romney said, unprompted by a question from reporters.

As opposed to inaccurate and right? Or accurate and wrong?

“The president has kept us safe over these last six years and is extraordinarily well-versed in matters of foreign policy. I’m not sure whether Governor Huckabee did the attack as a joke, but this is not a time to be mocking our president. And it was, I think, in bad taste. I think we should come together and recognize the great work our president is doing and not take on our rhetoric or our plays from the Democratic playbook.”

Meanwhile, on the same day:

“JOHNSTON, Iowa (Reuters) – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Tuesday the Bush administration mismanaged the Iraq war, distancing himself from his party’s unpopular president two days before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential contest,” writes Andy Sullivan in a Reuters release titled Romney says Bush mismanaged Iraq war and dated Jan 1, 2008 3:37pm EST.

“I think we did a less than effective job in managing the conflict following the collapse of Saddam Hussein,” the former Massachusetts governor said at a news conference. “I think we were under prepared for what occurred, understaffed, under planned, and, in some respects, under managed.”Romney’s comments echo those of his rival John McCain, who for years has criticized the way former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld handled the war. Polls show McCain and Romney locked in a tight battle for first place in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s second primary contest on January 8 … etc.

How do you reconcile

“I think we should come together and recognize the great work our president is doing and not take on our rhetoric or our plays from the Democratic playbook,” angry noise that Romney emits to scold Gov. Huckabee


“I think we were under prepared for what occurred, understaffed, under planned, and, in some respects, under managed,” angry noise that Romney emits to outflank Sen. McCain by aping his criticisms

Hence: Romney’s credibility issues.

From an article titled Credibility pounded, Romney wrestles with uncertainties, Michael Levenson writes: “A lot of Republicans were hit with these flip-flops and said, ‘We’ve got John Kerry, basically’ – he was for abortion before he was against it – and they were confused,” said Daron Shaw, a University of Texas political scientist who worked on President Bush’s campaign in 2000. “He’s had to work furiously to give them some context, to dirty up some of the other guys, to level the playing field a little bit. So, he’s in trench warfare” …

How does Romney intend to address his credibility issues?

He doesn’t.

Rather: Romney cherishes in his heart the absurd notion that his credibility issues will vanish in an instant once Iowa returns its verdict.

… Ron Kaufman, a Romney adviser who was George H.W. Bush’s White House political director, said questions about Romney’s character will disappear – if Romney can win the Republican nomination. A McClatchy/MSNBC poll released yesterday showed Romney has gained ground on Huckabee in Iowa and the two are now statistically tied, at 27 and 23 percent, respectively.

“Nothing changes the dynamic of races more than someone winning,” Kaufman said. “All of a sudden, they view you differently. It raises your stature. It changes the way people look at you” … etc.

Romney said he is doing all he can to win …

Even should you win, Romney, the truth may still catch up with you.

Not everyone will forget.

We certainly won’t.

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.

“ARLINGTON. Texas (Reuters) – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney needs to assure evangelicals that his Mormon faith would not be his ultimate guide if he wants their support, an influential Southern Baptist official said on Tuesday,” writes the estimable and precise Ed Stoddard of Reuters in a story titled Baptist advice to Romney: follow JFK’s lead

“If Romney wants to get significant Southern Baptist and evangelical support he’s going to have to give a Kennedy-style speech,” said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Land was referring to a speech by then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in Houston in 1960 in which he assured southern evangelicals he would not let his Catholic faith dictate his policies but defended the right of a Catholic to run for office … etc.

The problem for Land is this: how can he embrace Romney and not appear to endorse the Mormon Confession, which he cannot do and remain consistent with his tradition and his reading of the Apostolic kyregma? So what Land wants from Romney—if we read Land correctly—is a rationale similar to the rationale Kennedy offered the nation in Houston in 1960. Regard: Often in a negotiation to get a concession you need to offer a rationale that allows the conceding party to save face or to justify his or her new position. Otherwise the other party risks being perceived as inconsistent, weak, too easily swayed etc., or risks collapse altogether. (Instance: Say that management extracts too many concessions from labour negotiators without offering a rationale or rationale(s); the result will be collapse in the form of the labour negotiators themselves getting dismissed by their organization.)

We are indifferent to whether Romney chooses to issue Land and his coreligionists their rationale. That would be between Romney and Land, because we, for our part, could not possibly care less. But what does interest us is how badly Romney has played this issue—how, once again, Romney has ceded effective control to others—in this case, Land—how, once again, Romney has positioned himself such that whatever move he makes, he loses.


“This weekend at a gathering in New Hampshire, former Gov. Mitt Romney was asked, yet again, whether he would give a speech outlining his religious beliefs,” writes Douglas W. Kmeic in a story titled There’s More To Romney Than Mormonism; National Review Online: GOP Hopeful Must Refocus Voters Away From Religion

He said he would be happy to do so, but that some of his advisers caution against doing so, since it would “draw too much attention to that issue alone.”

It’s too late – the governor and his faith have our attention … etc., etc.

Well, yes and no, Mr. Kmeic. Romney has had our attention, and has been publicly deliberating about a possible address on the issue, for months. See:

Romney’s fatal indecision (ii): Hamlet ponders his Mormism

Romney has concluded that to allow the issue to remain suspended in the twilight of an eternal filibuster—to feign a divided mind or a divided camp—is more useful to his candidacy than to decide the issue one way or the other.

“I have some folks who think I should do it soon, some say later, some say never, some say right away,” Romney said. “I’ll make the decision. But there’s no particular urgency because I’m making progress in the states where I’m campaigning,” or so says his imperious and aloof excellency, Willard Milton Romney himself as reported by Glen Johnson in an AP release titled Romney’s advisors’ say on speech.

No particular urgency!? What leadership. What courage. What commitment to principle—the principle of expedience. (This explains a lot about Romney’s decision making process and why his campaign seems to shamble from disaster to catastrophe like a reeling drunkard. The man simply does not think ahead, nor does he explore the consequences of his acts.) But derisive laughter aside, Romney’s dilatory filibuster is useful for any number of reasons beyond a simple lack of “urgency.” Here are a few:

(a) The issue compels not just press, but sympathetic press—does it not offend your sense of fair play when people are excluded because of their confession or participation in a faith community?

(b) The issue draws attention away from Romney himself, always useful if you happen to be Romney himself

(c) The issue serves as an effective alibi for the non-performance of the Romney campaign—do you oppose Romney?—well, you must be anti-Mormon

(d) Related to (c), the issue transfers the burden of proof for Team Romney’s non-performance on to the querent, as the querent is enjoined to account for how Romney can be opposed or dismissed on grounds other than his Mormon confession.

But here is the problem for Romney, and it is functionally the same problem that Romney faces in the early-primary states: Romney has botched expectations.

(a) Romney’s delays and deliberations on the issue license voices like President Land to issue calls for a decision and get lots of attention when they do so—had Romney acted decisively one way or the other he could have preempted this discussion. Are you a pastor without portfolio who craves media attention? Write a press release calling for Romney to deliver a Kennedy-esque speech. Or: make yourself available for interviews and promise to explain how Romney can reach out to Evangelicals etc.

(b) Romney, by means of his interminable delays and effectively meaningless filibusters, has transferred the initiative to claimants like Land. This means that Romney has allowed Land to both frame the issue and set the terms for the debate.

(c) Note precisely what Land has called for: a speech like Kennedy’s—say what?!-–that’s a high standard, wouldn’t you say?—could Romney ever in his life deliver a speech like Kennedy’s?—answer: no. Neither could we. Neither could anyone. So why allow someone to set such a standard for you?

(d) Now, no matter what Romney decides, or when he decides it, or if he never decides the issue, he loses.

Were Romney to decide to forgo a Kennedy speech, he provides Land and his coreligionists the rationale to not vote for Romney and not be perceived as anti-Mormon. Why?—because Land has shifted the burden of proof—he and others have asked for their rationale and never got it. Nor did they ever get a clear and well supported ‘no’. Hence they may conclude on presumptive grounds that (a) their case had merit on the simple grounds that it was not dismissed out of hand, and (b) since their concerns went unanswered, those must have merit too. Perhaps to embrace Romney really is to embrace the Mormon confession—Romney himself could never bring himself to oppose the claim according to the terms that Land has demanded—Land enjoys the benefit of reasonable doubt, does he not?


Were Romney to decide to issue his Kennedy speech, he loses on several grounds. (a) Understand: In a sense, what Land demands is not a Kennedy speech, but the antithesis of the Kennedy speech. What made the Kennedy speech effective was that it was an instance of Kennedy seizing the initiative to set the terms of the debate in advance. What Land demands is not initiative as an expression of independence but its opposite: compliance. Romney is incapable of delivering the Kennedy speech as he ceded effective control of the issue months ago. Romney, alas, can only comply or not-comply. (b) The expectations for such a speech are by this time so high that whatever noise Romney emits, by whatever force of eloquence or strength of argument, will fall well short of the mark. Romney is not Kennedy. But even if Romney were Kennedy, or had Kennedy’s leadership or eloquence, the historical moment will not support such a speech—this is not 1960! (c) So: Whatever Romney does now—after having waited for so long—will be perceived as a concession or a sign of weakness. (d) Related to (c), were Romney to issue this concession in the form of a speech, he will find himself confronted by further calls for further concessions, clarifications, and explanations on the issue of his Mormon confession—because Romney failed to act decisively at a time when he could frame the debate, other players will do it for him, and their demands will only escalate.

Question: How can Romney scratch, claw, kick, and thrash himself free from this box he willfully, deliberately nailed himself into? We haven’t got a clue. An experienced or effective communicator would never get himself or herself trapped like this. And: This is not an aberration for Romney. Setting up impossible expectations, consistently failing to identify opportunity or seize the initiative, and allowing others to frame the debate is how Romney has botched his whole campaign. See:

Chris Cillizza provides further evidence against the success of the Romney von Schieffln plan

Oh, but by all means, let us make this ineffective counter-of-office-receipts our president! He is super-rich, after all.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has to smile since he’s up in Iowa by 23 points over rival and national front runner Rudy Giuliani in the battle for their party’s nomination” reports the entire Reuters Staff in a dispatch titled Romney tries to lower Iowa expectations

But publicly he is trying to play down expectations that he has to win given the amount of time and money he has poured into the early voting state.

Well, duh. Even a Romney staffer can see that Romney has opened up a salient, the classic profile of high-vulnerability. Here is what we wrote elsewhere on this very issue:

Giuliani does not need to win Iowa, New Hampshire, or Michigan. Here—we argue–is why:

(a) Romney’s much-publicized massive spending in the early states has set up conditions such that any outcome other than a total blow-out in Romney’s favor will be interpreted as a non-victory or even a defeat.

(b) Team Romney is a famously low-effiency, low-ROI campaign. It is therefore vulnerable to the sudden leaps of under-funded and under-organized but high-efficiency, high-ROI campaigns, e.g. Huckabee’s rise has pushed Romney to fifth place in the national polls.

(c) Because of (a) and (b), and because Team Romney’s numbers have already peaked in the early primary states, even a marginal intervention by any one of the other campaigns—not just Giuliani’s—could offset or even deny Romney a victory in any one, or even all of his early primary states. In other words: for any of the other candidates to come in a close second in any of the early primary states would be interpreted as a disaster for Team Romney.

(3) This is consonant with Giuliani’s high-efficiency, high-ROI campaign; he is effectively using the other campaigns to pin down and exhaust a hapless Romney at no cost to his own operation.

Call it Romney’s Iowa-New Hampshire Salient. On a map a salient looks like progress—like forward motion. On the ground, however …

Also see: Romney poised to fail in Iowa no matter what the outcome

yours &c.
dr. g.d.