Posts Tagged ‘salt lake tribune’

“It would have been better for the nation if Mitt Romney had said he just wanted to spend more time with his family,” write the editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article titled A graceless Mitt Romney shows the nation how not to bow out of a race, reproduced in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Instead, the former Massachusetts governor, in dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, insulted the patriotism of most of the American electorate – and its intelligence as well.

In his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Romney said he was stepping aside because, ”I simply cannot let my campaign be part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

Both of the candidates for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Romney said, ”have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror: They would retreat, declare defeat.” For him to continue campaigning, he said, would ”forestall the launch of a national campaign, and frankly, I’d make it easier for Sen. Clinton or Obama to win.”

Even by today’s debased standards of political discourse, this borders on slander. Most Americans in both political parties have rejected President George W. Bush’s attempt to conflate the war in Iraq with the war on terrorism. Romney is bright enough to know the connection is dubious, but his comments suggest he’s craven enough to use it to curry favor with the party’s extreme right – just in case he wants to try again in 2012.

Yet it is exactly this sort of transparent, say-anything political opportunism that characterized and, ultimately, torpedoed Romney’s campaign. Time and again, he espoused positions that conflicted with views he had expressed previously – on abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, immigration and health-care reform. Those flip-flops, more than his Mormon faith, caused evangelical Christians in the GOP to be wary of him […]

[…] Romney tried Thursday to compare his 2008 campaign with that of former California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1976. Reagan, although narrowly trailing President Gerald R. Ford in the delegate count, took his battle for the nomination to the August convention in Kansas City. But those were different times, when primaries and state party conventions lasted well into the summer. Reagan didn’t have to wage an expensive six-month campaign to stay in the race, as Romney would.

Reagan did emerge, however, as the party’s heir apparent, a slot Romney clearly covets. His withdrawal from this race gives him four years to polish his conservative credentials for the next one – or change them if that’s more expedient […]

John Ellis in a RealClearPolitics article titled The Romney Campaign’s 5 Big Mistakes comments as well on Romney’s invocation of Reagan:

[…] Having mismanaged their candidate to political defeat, the Romney team added insult to injury by spinning his departure as reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s defeat in 1976. This is preposterous. Reagan electrified the conservative movement in 1964 with his televised address on behalf of Barry Goldwater. Reagan came within one endorsement — Strom Thurmond’s — of wresting away the Republican nomination from Richard Nixon in 1968. And when he arrived in Kansas City in the summer of 1976, he had carried any number of critical states by majority votes (and in some cases, by wide margins) in Republican primary elections. Reagan left the stage as a force because he was a force. Romney leaves the stage having carried Michigan and Massachusetts and a number of caucus states. And he leaves having given it his very best effort. But he does not leave as a force, because he is not yet a significant force in the Republican Party […]

The emphases are ours, all ours.

The editorialists of The Kansas City Star concur with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an editorial titled Romney’s withdrawal clears way for GOP’s best candidate

[…] In ceding the Republican nomination to John McCain on Thursday, Mitt Romney did not blame his own inept campaign.

He did not blame inconsistencies between his campaign rhetoric and his record as governor of Massachusetts.

He did not blame intraparty religious squabbles that another candidate, Mike Huckabee, cynically encouraged.

No, Romney chose to blame his withdrawal on . . . the Democrats!

As Romney told it, Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama would “surrender” to our enemies abroad.

By prolonging the Republican nomination battle, Romney said, he would dangerously hobble McCain’s ability to attack the Democrats. “And in this time of war,” Romney said, “I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

That’s quite a charge, reminiscent of Vice President Dick Cheney’s worst rhetorical excesses. In the last presidential campaign, for example, Cheney was widely mocked for his claim that voting for Democrats would raise the danger of another big terrorist attack on the United States.

A question for Romney: Whatever happened to simply congratulating the rival who beat you in a hard-fought primary battle?

Whether they count themselves as Democrats, Republicans or independents, many voters have tired of the bitter political partisanship they see in our national government.

So Romney’s statement Thursday provided further evidence of the tin ear that hurt his candidacy […]

The reviews are in. Romney’s final tirade tanked. Romney departed us the same way he greeted us, disastrously.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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[…] Romney vowed publicly to trudge on despite the series of disappointing losses; even after his wife, Ann, said that “The one thing that’s clear tonight is that nothing’s clear,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Despite few victories, Romney vows to campaign on

“I think she’s wrong; one thing that’s clear is this campaign is going on,” Romney told supporters in Boston. “I think there’s some people that thought it was all going to be done tonight, but it’s not done tonight.”

McCain, meanwhile, relished his new spot as the leader after many pundits had declared his candidacy dead last year.

“Tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party frontrunner for the nomination of the president of the United States. And I really don’t mind that one bit,” McCain told a revved-up crowd in Arizona that included Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

With Romney taking so few of the key states on Super Tuesday, political observers were doubting the former head of the 2002 Winter Olympics could turn around his campaign from the trouncing he sustained.

Romney may plan to continue on, but the GOP establishment likely will be calling on him to suspend his campaign, says Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University in Washington.

“There’s going to be a tremendous push in the Republican Party to unite behind the front-runner,” Lichtman says. McCain may not be the establishment’s dream nominee, but it’s better to seem unified and not fractured, Lichtman added.

Romney is “young” and can run again if he wants, Lichtman says, guessing he probably doesn’t want to burn a second chance at a run […]

[…] But Romney still may soldier on, she adds, because he has tremendous financial resources.

“What keeps Romney in this game is money, his ability to fund the campaign, keep the lights on,” Duffy says. “It’s hard for him to make a case after today [to continue], but my guess is he may” […]

[…] “Once again, conservatives have rejected Romney’s conviction-less campaign,” said Huckabee’s campaign manager, Chip Saltsman. “No amount of Mitt’s money is going to overcome what a growing number of Americans – and the Wall Street Journal – are seeing first hand: Mitt has no convictions at all” […]

And what has Romney spent to arrive at this point?

[…] “By Republican strategist Alex Vogel’s calculation, Mitt Romney is giving Gramm a run for his money,” writes Jonathan Wiesman in a washingtonpost.com The Trail post titled Romney’s Expenses Per Delegate Top $1M

The former Massachusetts governor has spent $1.16 million per delegate, a rate that would cost him $1.33 billion to win the nomination.

By contrast, Mike Huckabee’s campaign has been the height of efficiency. Delegates haven’t yet been officially apportioned, but roughly speaking, each $1 million spent by Huckabee has won him 20 delegates […]

All that spending, and all that re-inventing, yet voters still do not consider Romney a conservative:

[…] “This week, conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter all rallied against John McCain, telling their listeners to back Mitt Romney,” writes the estimable John Dickerson in a slate.com article titled McCain Not Stopped; But Romney is not seen as a true conservative

Forget Huckabee, they’ve argued, a vote for him only ensures that the apostate McCain will win. On Tuesday, James Dobson, the religious broadcaster, blasted McCain: “I am convinced Senator McCain is not a conservative and, in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party.”

These loud voices of protest were thoroughly ignored. Conservatives did not rally to Mitt Romney. They rallied to Mike Huckabee, who won Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. “A lot of people have tried to say that this is a two-man race,” he said after winning, “You know what? It is, and we’re in it.”

That was a stretch, but Huckabee could argue Romney was out of the running because in the ideological and geographic heart of the Republican Party, Romney could not make a scratch, just as he couldn’t in the South Carolina primary. In Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama, he didn’t even come in second. For Romney, the problem is not just that he couldn’t win the delegates, but that he could not make the sale to Republicans at the heart of his party. He has spent money, bought organization, and now has the firepower of revered conservative voices behind him, and he still can’t win.

This is the worst possible outcome for those who want party unity or to stop John McCain. While Romney was denied, McCain won New York, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Missouri and racked up delegates, putting him closer to the nomination. The states at play in future contests are only going to get better for him and worse for Romney […]

Yet evidence accumulates to suggest that Romney’s efforts to destroy the GOP’s chances in November have not been entirely without effect:

[…] Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain’s problems with conservatives run deep. He lost among conservatives in almost every state except Connecticut and New Jersey, where he split them evenly with Romney. McCain also lost conservatives even in the states he won. Conservatives went for Romney in New York and Illinois. “Hard to do well with conservatives when everyone with a microphone is beating hell out of us,” says a top McCain aide. While the conservative voices weren’t enough to stop McCain, or to elect their guy, tonight they were enough to bruise him […]

Romney’s only purpose now is to keep driving Sen. McCain’s negatives up.

The emphasis is ours, all ours.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday attributed a big part of his Iowa loss to the fact his main competitor had an established base of evangelical support, which turned out in force,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Romney attributes Iowa loss to faith

Romney, who has worked to overcome fears about voters backing him as a Mormon, took only a fifth of evangelical voters who turned out to caucus in the first test of the presidential race. Republican rival Mike Huckabee, a Baptist-preacher-turned-politician, took nearly half of that category of voters, according to entrance polls.

The Romney campaign credited a large turnout by evangelical voters – many of whom see Mormons as heretical – for Huckabee’s victory.

“Mike had a terrific base as a minister – drew on that base, got a great deal of support, it was a wonderful strategy that he pursued effectively,” Romney told reporters Friday in New Hampshire where he was fighting for a victory in that state’s first-in-the-nation primary on Tuesday.

Romney said he came into Iowa an unknown governor of Massachusetts, the “bluest of the blue states,” and campaigned hard to educate voters about what he stands for. But that, apparently, wasn’t enough as Huckabee trounced Romney 34 percent to 25 percent.

“Had I been a Baptist minister, I perhaps could have chosen a different path, but that wasn’t the path that’s available to me,” Romney said. “He took one that was available to him, worked it extremely well, turned out people extremely well and I congratulate him on a well-run campaign.” […]

This self-pitying, I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam Romney-rant is beneath comment. Well, almost. In another post we wrote

An emerging “fixed point” now conditioning and organizing the discussion is the notion that voters want “change.” (By “fixed point” we mean a point of convergence or common assumption emerging in the popular account.)

Another emerging fixed point is that Iowa decided for Gov. Huckabee because of anti-Mormon bias etc. This is as wrongheaded as it is condescending. Here would be the counterpoint:

Medved: “[Gov. Huckabee’s] powerful appeal to females, the young and the poor make him a different kind of Republican—[one] who connects with voting blocs the GOP needs to win back—[Gov Huckabee is] hardly the one-dimensional religious candidate of media caricature”

More counterpoint from Patrick Ruffini in a Townhall.com blog burst titled Iowa Shows Passion & Energy Matter:

[…] As I wrote on December 11:

[Huckabee’s] success is not about ideology, but identity. For his voters, he’s a Christian first, and a conservative second. Attacking him on conventional conservative issues won’t undermine his core support because it has nothing to do with being a conservative.

Ruffini’s point on its face supports Romney’s bitter complaint. But Ruffini continues:

Huckabee won women 40-26% (and men just 29-26%). He won voters under $30,000 by about 2 to 1. Cross those two, take away the Republican filter, and you’re talking about a general election constituency that is at least 2-to-1 Democratic. These are not people that conventional primary campaigns are designed to reach. These are the Republican voters the furthest away from National Review, other elite conservative media, and websites like this one. It’s easy to see just how the analysts missed the boat on this one […]

[…] Conventional organization may matter less in an era of high-stakes, high-turnout elections. Romney’s Iowa chair Doug Gross was quoted as saying that 80,000 was their “magic number” for overall turnout. It’s easy to see why. With 26,000 Romney votes, that would have been good for 32.5% and a win — about the same percentage they got at Ames (where turnout was historically low).

The Romney campaign was an efficient machine that knew who its voters were and turned them out. The problem is that Mike Huckabee’s momentum brought in new voters off the beaten path — more Evangelicals, more women, people lower on the income ladder. Think about this: In the 2000 Caucuses, only 37% described themselves as “religious right.” This year, 60% described themselves as “Evangelical Christians.” That’s an imperfect comparison, but the universe of Evangelical voters almost certainly expanded this year […]

Conclusion: the fixed point emerging in support of Iowa is the new GOP coalition, a coalition based on a renewed conservative movement that the elite conservative media failed to even register in their opinions and analyses.

Or where they did register it, they either dismissed it or ridiculed it.

Sadly, the new elite liberal media is the old elite conservative media.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Always remember: effective politicians NEVER, EVER BLAME THE VOTERS.

[…] “Romney outspent Huckabee 20-1 in the state, according to some estimates, yet the advertisements, ground structure and piles of mailers couldn’t help him at the caucuses, the first test of the presidential primary election process,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Romney’s big investment in Iowa turns bitter; Evangelicals distrust of Mormons likely factored in Huckabee victory

On Fox News, pollster/commentator Frank Luntz said Romney made a “big mistake” by going negative against Huckabee. Focus groups used by Luntz indicated that Iowa Republicans were turned off by the blizzard of attack ads from the Romney campaign and found Huckabee the “most human of all the candidates” […]

Well, duh.

We have harped on this string for weeks and weeks. You cannot go negative against a rival with lower negatives than yours without doing more damange to yourself than to your opponent. Calling your attack ads “contrast ads” and beginning your personal attacks with “x is an honorable man” fools precisely no one. See:

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

Conclusion: Romney’s high negatives, credibility issues, and icy-cold humanoid demeanor, will not support a negative message. But has Romney learned his lesson yet? No. Romney promises to continue his negative and personal attacks on his rivals.

Morris: “[Romney] doesn’t have to win, place or show”—but: Romney himself has promised to “absolutely” continue airing viciously negative personal attacks on his rivals—so whatever happens in Iowa, the GOP is the loser

Romney is not just at war with the GOP base and its divided and dispersed coalition. Faustian Romney is at war with the laws of physics. He deludes himself that e.g. gravity or entropy does not apply to him, or that he can declare white to be black, or hot to be cold, or negative ads to be contrastive ads, and it will be so. Romney is like a satyric version of a Romantic (anti)hero, raging at the universe like Shelley’s Frankenstein or Melville’s Ahab. Here is the problem for us: Romney may well destroy our party before he’s finished working through his personal issues at our expense.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“WASHINGTON – Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appears to be using Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith as a wedge issue to attract evangelical voters in the early states, political scientists say, a move that in part seems to be helping Huckabee stay ahead in Iowa polls,” writes Thomas Burr for the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Huckabee winning support by highlighting Romney’s Mormonism

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, aired a TV commercial in Iowa recently telling voters he is a “Christian leader,” a move that could be seen as a veiled hit on Romney, whose faith is viewed as heretical by some Protestant evangelicals. And Huckabee has so far refused to say whether he believes the LDS Church is a cult, as his Southern Baptist religion labels the church.

In Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Huckabee goes even further when asked if he believes Mormons are cultists. While first saying he didn’t know much about Mormonism, Huckabee then asks the reporter in an “innocent voice”: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

Some political observers say Huckabee, now the leading GOP candidate in Iowa polls, is raising the issues of Romney’s faith as a campaign tactic …

Gov. Huckabee’s line of reasoning is blowback, Romney’s blowback: a hard and furious negation in the form of a necessary complement to Romney’s line of reasoning. Shall we clarify our claim? Indeed we shall. Follow us, step by step …

(1) Consider Bernstein’s account of Romney’s line as delivered in The Phoenix:

… Romney’s similar [to Gibson’s] marketing challenge emerged this past year, when he and his advisors made the strategic decision to campaign as the conservative alternative option to Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, the perceived front-runners for the Republican nomination. That strategy would require Romney to win large numbers of votes from religious conservatives. Unfortunately for him, Romney had a long, well-established record of moderate and even liberal stands on a number of issues, including abortion.

So, like Gibson, Romney began spreading word of the anti-Mormon plots against him long before anyone knew who he was, let alone what religion he practiced. By late 2006, he was sitting for interviews with almost anyone willing to write about the “Mormon question” — landing him on the cover of almost every conservative publication in the country.

Romney also mimics Gibson’s strategy by de-emphasizing his own religious beliefs, even while speaking of the importance of evangelicals’ beliefs. Gibson, while avidly recounting his own “born-again” religious awakening and its importance on the movie, rarely answered questions about his pre–Vatican II Catholic beliefs. Romney professes the importance of his faith in Jesus Christ, while saying that the rest of his Mormon beliefs are out-of-bounds …

(2) According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Gov. Huckabee’s line with respect to Romney is to

(a) Follow Romney’s own line of reasoning by emphasizing what Romney himself tried to de-emphasized—to draw out distinctions where Romney has tried to blur them. As Romney himself argues with respect to Gov. Huckabee, “[Huckabee]’s obviously appealing to people of his faith, and that’s something that clearly opens the door to that inquiry.”

So too Romney: Romney opened the door.

(b) Call Romney’s bluff by enacting Romney’s own persecution narrative—a Parker and Stone (creators of South Park) gesture where the speaker or writer inoculates himself or herself against a charge of e.g. insensitivity by behaving so outrageously insensitively that the behavior can only be interpreted as ironic and satirical. For example, Gov. Huckabee asking “in an innocent voice”: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Painfully literal whimperers like Michael Novak took Huckabee’s bait and preened themselves on their sensitivity and correctness, little realizing that they had been mercilessly spoofed in advance.

Put differently: Imagine getting angry at a South Park episode because of how Parker and Stone depict e.g. the differently abled—well, you, the viewer, getting outraged is precisely the point because this is how Parker and Stone make their point!—and all the Michael Novaks in the world can fein righteous indignation little realizing that they have become a part of the joke, little realizing that the whimpering Novaks themselves are enacting the very point of the joke.

Our conclusion: as we argued elsewhere, Gov. Huckabee’s rise is an artifact of Romney’s own practices, policies, and lines of argument.

Romney campaign a victim of the “sunk cost effect”—also: how Gov. Huckabee’s sudden ascendancy is an artifact of the Romney campaign’s misguided activities

To be honest we always regarded Gov. Huckabee as a likable rube. Forced by rising poll numbers to take the former governor seriously, we have upgraded our assessment. The man is more subtle, attentive, and articulate than his rivals, especially Romney. Were he to win the nomination we would support him in the general election.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. … to negate is to indicate an alternative, a neglected complement; it is to delineate a determination and to fix a definitive character.—Errol Harris.

“As governor, Mr. Romney did little direct managing, delegating much of that to his staff, Mr. Kriss said. When addressing challenges, including solving the state’s budget crisis and shaping its universal health care plan, he took an analytical approach. Both efforts began with Bain-style strategic audits,” writes MICHAEL LUO for the NYT in an article titled For Romney & Company, Campaign Is All Business

His style in the campaign is similar, his aides said, with Mr. Romney relying on a circle of lieutenants, many of whom are longtime friends from Bain, the Olympics or the Statehouse, who are familiar with what he expects.

“He describes himself as the chairman of the company and me as the C.E.O.,” said Beth Myers, Mr. Romney’s campaign manager and former Statehouse chief of staff. “He does not manage this campaign.”

Romney’s small-circle of lieutenant-adepti management technique is also the way Romney addressed the health care question in Massachusetts

BOSTON–Only weeks after I was elected governor, Tom Stemberg, the founder and former CEO of Staples, stopped by my office. He told me, “If you really want to help people, find a way to get everyone health insurance.” I replied that would mean raising taxes and a Clinton-style government takeover of health care. He insisted: “You can find a way.”

I believe that we have. Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen.

When I took up Tom’s challenge, I assembled a team from business, academia and government and asked them first to find out who was uninsured, and why. What they found was surprising … etc.

Here is the result:

Pipes: RomneyCare a spiraling fiscal disaster; does not deliver universal coverage or meaningful structure of cost controls

Here is impression that Romney and Romney’s methodology leaves upon voters:

“It’s often true that our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses,” writes Bruce Wilson in a Salt Lake Tribune release titled Is Romney’s business background a blessing or a curse?

And so it is with Romney. His admirable record of accomplishment in the business world was enabled by the application of analytical skills and business acumen he acquired as a consultant and executive of Bain Consulting and later Bain Capital.

But something else Romney acquired from Bain – dispassionate detachment – makes for a rough campaign road. Anyone who has worked with consultancies and investors like Bain would likely acknowledge they are hired primarily for their minds, analytical skills and access to capital – not their hearts.

Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t heartless. It’s just that the job requires them to keep their hearts in check so tough business decisions – even painful layoffs – are considered.

Dispassionate detachment is necessary in the consulting and investment worlds, but it can be a fatal liability in the political world. In fact, the opposite approach – passionate authenticity – is often more attractive to voters.

There are many examples of this phenomenon, but Ronald Reagan is probably the best case in point. Many voters disliked some of what Reagan stood for but voted for him anyway because they liked the fact that he actually stood for something. They believed Reagan not only because of what he said and did, but also because of how he said it. To many it seemed Reagan’s heart, mind, words and actions were all in-sync … etc.

For our own critique of Romney’s method see:

Romney would organize his administration on the model of an Abbasid Caliph according to Fred Barnes

Who was it who once said, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.