Posts Tagged ‘www.boston.com’

“Mitt Romney knew John McCain would be a tough competitor on Super Tuesday,” writes Michael Levenson in a http://www.boston.com article titled After tough Tuesday, Romney forces to meet on next steps

What he didn’t count on was Mike Huckabee’s strong showing, which stopped Romney from staying close to McCain in the delegate chase for the nomination.Romney, however, vowed to continue on stay in the race, and his spokesman played down Huckabee’s victories.

‘‘A Southern candidate who appeals on social issues had an appeal to a Southern constituency on social issues,’’ spokesman Kevin Madden said last night. ‘‘It’s not a surprise.’’

The contrast between them is clear, he said.

‘‘The case we’re going to make to Republican voters is that Governor Romney is the full spectrum conservative, whereas Mike Huckabee is only a social conservative’’ […]

Note that Romney compares himself favorably to Gov. Huckabee, not Sen. McCain. Conclusion: Romney assumes that Gov. Huckabee split the conservative vote. So his message is to Gov. Huckabee voters in particular and conservatives and value voters in general.

We disagree with this assumption. And so do others.

Back to Levenson:

Romney and his inner circle plan to huddle today at the campaign’s North End headquarters and consider their next steps […]

Oh, what we would not give to be allowed to stand in that huddle, shoulder to shoulder with the mighty men (and women) of valor who have delivered Romney triumph upon triumph. John King and Dana Bash of CNN’s Political ticker also harp on the string of Romney’s Wednesday morning huddle in a post titled Romney set to huddle with top advisors

[…] “It is tough to saddle up this AM,” said one top Romney adviser who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Romney has poured more than $35 million of his personal fortune into the campaign, and after a rough Super Tuesday faces a decision of whether to spend more. Several advisers said there was a plan, in place before the Tuesday votes were counted, to begin advertising in the Washington, DC and Baltimore markets. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia hold primaries next Tuesday.

“As of early this AM it was a go,” said one of the campaign sources. “We can do the math but there are still openings,” said another.

The official agenda for the meeting was discussion strategy though the March 4 GOP contests. Romney has no public events scheduled and aides say there are, at the moment, no plans for any public statement. An address to a major conservative gathering in Washington is planned for Thursday; McCain is also addressing the group […]

Here be the problem: there is pressure developing from every direction—party elites, media, punditry, even from within Team Romney itself—to withdraw now that a clear front-runner has finally emerged. The political primitives of Team Romney are faced with the daunting task of developing and disseminating a new rationale for the Romney campaign in light of yesterday’s losses. At the moment the message is “I am the full spectrum conservative; Gov. Huckabee is but a half-formed, only partially realized conservative.” We shall see how long they can hold their diminished position on the strength of so limp an argument. Here is the reasoning that the finest minds that Romney can buy must rebut, refute, or counter with their own narrative:

[…] “The Super Tuesday shake out has left Arizona Sen. John McCain riding high with more than twice as many delegates as GOP rival Mitt Romney, who despite spending millions of dollars of his personal fortune was left out in the cold yesterday,” writes Jessica Fargen in a news.bostonherald.com release titled Pundits: Romney may be out soon

McCain, who won the big-delegate state of California, has 613 delegates, followed by former Bay State Gov. Romney with 269 and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 190 delegates, according to the Associated Press. It takes 1,191 to win the GOP nomination.

“I think Romney will probably not be in the race that much longer,” said Republican media consultant Todd Domke, who is not affiliated with any GOP campaign. “He performed below expectations. Romney has rasied the expectations so high that when he failed it was all the more devastating” […]

In other words, once again Romney outflanked Romney—i.e. the campaign botched its own expectations game. Sen. McCain’s campaign adds its own voice to the chorus in the form of a memo, as reported by Jessica Van Sack in a bostonherald.com Presidential Briefings blog burst titled McCain internal memo leaves Romney for dead

From the memo:

[…] Senator McCain went into Super Tuesday with nearly a two-to-one lead in the Delegate count. He ends Super Tuesday (unofficially) with nearly 750 delegates in his column (estimates based on proportionally divided states and unofficial returns) while Romney has only 236, just a few ahead of Huckabee. Our unofficial count shows Mitt Romney trails by 510 delegates. As of today, more than 1400 delegates have been assigned or decided through primary or caucus contests.

The remaining contests account for roughly 963 delegates. For Mitt Romney to match our delegate count, he would have to win more than 50% of those delegates. And, he would have to win nearly every single delegate still available in order to become the nominee. And, many of these contests are proportional, so Mitt will have to win by big margins in many states to garner every last delegate. For example, in this weekend’s Louisiana Primary, he would have to win the with more than 50% of the vote in order to win (1191 delegates to win, 963+236=1,199) […]

The super-duper apocalypse Tuesday contests have passed into their archival phase. Now the struggle becomes what to make of the data that the voters and caucus goers returned when they were asked to express their views on the candidates with their ballots or other means. Sen. McCain’s message: The process is over. Allow me to address the several blocs that make up the base of the party and attempt to develop grounds for going forward together. And Romney’s message so far today? The conservative base has yet to speak. And when they do, they will speak through me. I am the authentic conservative.

Only here is the problem for Romney: the conservatives have already spoken. In contest after contest, they issued their ruling on Romney’s clumsy and caricatured, unreconstructed, newly acquired conservatism. Their answer to Romney’s call was simply not the answer that Team Romney wanted to hear.

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dr. g.d.

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[…] “Lots of talk in the media about McCain vs. The Mighty Wombats of Talk Radio,” writes the insipid Richelieu in an insipid Campaign Standard blog burst titled Richelieu: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

Ask President Tancredo about that one. The talkers can raise an issue to prominence, they can entertain, but they do not really deliver actual votes. Sorry Rush […]

That should be “Sorry Romney.

Still, however, Romney wants to capitalize on the new love radiating from talk radio

[…] “It might be preaching to the choir, but the members of this choir are precisely the people Mitt Romney needs to stop John McCain from getting a stranglehold on the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday,” writes the estimable Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, ina http://www.boston.com blog burst titled Romney puts ad on Limbaugh show

Romney aired an ad today on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that excoriates McCain’s record on taxes and immigration.

“John McCain, he’s been in Washington a long time,” the announcer says, before the ad cites conservative commentators and the National Review.

Limbaugh, while not explicitly endorsing Romney, has been warning his listeners for weeks that McCain’s nomination would destroy the Republican Party. He repeated those warnings again today. Romney and McCain have been sparring over who is the true conservative […]

The always a little baffled and befuddled Ed Morrissey laments what he foresees as a growing rift between the media figure of the right-wing shock jock and the Republican Party:

[…] But this showdown isn’t just about the media. It looks like the first really open GOP primary in decades will test a couple of widespread assumptions. First, does conservative talk radio have the influence that many presume to impact an election? Second, if it does not, what will that say about the future of conservative talk radio?

The answer to the first question will, I think, demonstrate that listeners have never been the monolithic, Clone Army style force that its critics presume. While they appreciate and enjoy the programs, listeners think for themselves. Anyone who spends any time at all listening knows the diversity of opinion unleashed through the call-in lines. Having spent time behind the mike as Hugh’s replacement on occasion, I can tell you that the callers are smart, informed, and sometimes have a much different opinion than me or Hugh.

So the answer to the second question follows from there. People will continue to listen to talk radio as they always have — for entertainment, information, and debate. The hosts will influence the opinions of the listeners, but they’re independent and will go their own way.

I expect that the hosts will change some minds before Tuesday. I expect the endorsements of the party’s establishment figures to do the same. In the end, most of the voters will make their decision based on their own logic, as they usually do. However, there will be one part of the showdown that may not survive, and that is the affinity of the conservative hosts for the Republican Party as an entity for conservative values. For that, High Noon has been a long time coming, and a McCain win may have some activists feeling very forsaken […]

We grieve for those forsaken activists. We truly do.

Morrissey does understand the distinction between the activities of corporate content providers and the task of political parties, right?—the one is not the propaganda arm of the other. And if the one—or elements among the one—elect to promote a faction within the GOP at the expense of a governing coalition, then it deserves whatever it gets. The party is not the movement; the movement is not the party. And talk radio is neither party nor movement; it is information, entertainment, and opinion provided by organizations whose business is business.

Our prediction: our brothers and sisters in talk radio will soon learn why journalists and other media figures cherish the integrity that a sense of independence confers on them.

Meanwhile, Michael Graham of the NRO muses on the Sen. John McCain nomination that hasn’t happened yet, and answers the question that Morissey never posed but should have:

[…] John McCain didn’t win this nomination. Everyone else lost it. Mitt Romney had every chance — and then some — to win this nomination. He campaigned hard, and with lots of money, in every key primary state. And in every key state where his father never served as governor, he lost. He came, he saw (and was seen), and he got 31% of the vote. He wasn’t defeated by McCain. He’s just a mediocre candidate” […]

This isn’t about talk radio. Nor should it ever have been. This is not even about the conservative movement. Note to Morrissey: Romney is not the conservative movement. The conservative movement is not Romney. Conservatism is for Romney a means to an end and that end is power.

This is, and has always been, about Romney, a surpassingly mediocre candidate.

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dr. g.d.

“With a commanding lead in most super Tuesday states GOP frontrunner John MCCain is looking for a put away punch in Mitt Romney’s homestate of Massachusetts,” writes Carl Cameron in a FoxNews.com Cameron’s Corner blog burst titled McCain tries to put Mitt away in Massachusetts; McCAIN PLAYS TO DEFEAT MITT ONCE AND FOR ALL IN MASSACHUSETTS

McCain hopes to win a big majority of the 1,023 nomination delegates that are up for grabs in the 21 states that have contests 2/5 (there are 15 primaries, 5 caucuses and 1 state convention, Ten of the races are winner take all) But Romney has signaled that may not push him out of the race.The McCain campaign believes beating Romney “in the state where people know him best” would be a decisive blow that would force Romney to reconsider and ultimately withdraw.

As FOX was first to report Wednesday, McCain plans to watch the Super Bowl and campaign in Boston!! Sunday night and Monday morning […]

On the other hand, the MA GOP are “rallying for Romney!”

“BOSTON—Former Gov. Weld and former Lieutenant Gov. Kerry Healey are among the prominent Massachusetts Republicans supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential bid,” writes some anonymous somebody in a boston.com release titled Massachusetts Republican leaders stick by Romney

The former governor also has the support of two state senators and 18 of the state’s 19 GOP representatives.

Other notables supporting Romney include district attorneys Tim Cruz, Michael O’Keefe and Elizabeth Scheibel […]

Romney for his part has vowed to fight on past super-duper apocalypse Tuesday:

“MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Though he once expected to have the Republican nomination nearly locked up by now, Mitt Romney said that he’s now ready to hunker down for the long haul,” writes Scott Conroy for cbsnews.com in a From the Road blog burst titled Romney: GOP Race Won’t Be Decided On Tuesday

“Looking at the numbers of delegates and the numbers of states, I don’t think somebody’s going to walk away with the needed numbers, so I think this thing goes on well beyond Tuesday,” Romney said at an impromptu press conference aboard his campaign plane. “I don’t look early at the calendar beyond Tuesday, but I know there is one, and I intend to keep on battling.”

Although he lags behind John McCain in many of the delegate-rich states that vote on Tuesday, Romney said he was heartened by the recent coalescing of support he’s received from influential conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham […]

Yes, well, about Limbaugh, Coulter, and Ingraham, Ruffini writes:

[…] There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough […]

[…] It’s instructive to study how George W. Bush united the conservative coalition eight years ago. He did so not as a Mitt Romney Republican but as a Mike Huckabee Republican. The only thing Bush offered fiscal conservatives was tax cuts. The rest was Catholic social thought. Say what you will about him, but Bush has never gone squishy on a single social issue in eight years. But has gone wobbly on fiscal issues, leading to a revolt in the conservative establishment. As Bush knew, and as we are re-learning with the rise of John McCain and the intransigence of Mike Huckabee’s base, fiscal conservatism is where the opinion leaders are, and social conservatism is where the votes are […]

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dr. g.d.

“In early 1995, as the Ampad paper plant in Marion, Ind., neared its shutdown following a bitter strike, Randy Johnson, a worker and union official, scrawled a personal letter to Mitt Romney, pouring out his disappointment that Romney, then chief executive of the investment firm that controlled Ampad, had not done enough to settle the strike and save some 200 jobs,” writes Robert Gavin of the Boston Globe in an article titled As Bain slashed jobs, Romney stayed to side

“We really thought you might help,” Johnson said in the handwritten note, “but instead we heard excuses that were unacceptable from a man of your prominent position.”

Romney, who had recently lost a Senate race in which the strike became a flashpoint, responded that he had “privately” urged a settlement, but was advised by lawyers not to intervene directly. His political interests, he explained, conflicted with his business responsibilities.

Now, Romney’s decision to stay on the sidelines as his firm, Bain Capital, slashed jobs at the office supply manufacturer stands in marked contrast to his recent pledges to beleaguered auto workers in Michigan and textile workers in South Carolina to “fight to save every job.”

Throughout his 15-year career at Bain Capital, which bought, sold, and merged dozens of companies, Romney had other chances to fight to save jobs, but didn’t. His ultimate responsibility was to make money for Bain’s investors, former partners said.

Much as he did when running for Massachusetts governor, Romney is now touting his business credentials as he campaigns for president, asserting that he helped create thousands of jobs as CEO of Bain. But a review of Bain’s investments during Romney’s tenure indicates that job growth was not a particular priority.

Romney’s approach at Bain Capital was more reflective of the economic philosophy articulated by his opponent, John McCain: to acknowledge that some less efficient jobs will be lost and concentrate on creating new jobs with potential for higher growth.

In many cases, such as Staples Inc., the Framingham retailer, and Steel Dynamics Inc., an Indiana steelmaker, the companies expanded and added thousands of jobs. In other cases, such as Ampad and GS Industries, another steelmaker, Bain-controlled companies shuttered plants, slashed hundreds of jobs, and landed in bankruptcy.

But in almost all cases Bain Capital made money. In fact, the firm earned substantially more from Ampad than Staples. Staples returned about $13 million on a $2 million investment; Ampad yielded more than $100 million on $5 million, according to reports to investors.

“It’s not that employment grows, it’s that their investment grows,” said Howard Anderson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “Sometimes its expansion, and sometimes it’s shutting things down” […]

[…] Bain acquired GS Industries in 1993. The steelmaker borrowed heavily to modernize plants in Kansas City and North Carolina, as well as pay dividends to Bain investors. But as foreign competition increased and steel prices fell in the late 1990s, the company struggled to support the debt, according to Mark Essig, the former CEO. GS filed for bankruptcy in 2001, and shut down its money-losing Kansas City plant, throwing some 750 employees out of work.

Ampad, too, became squeezed between onerous debt that had financed acquisitions and falling prices for its office-supply products. Its biggest customers – including Staples – used their buying power and access to Asian suppliers to demand lower prices from Ampad.

Romney sat on Staples’s board of directors at this time.

Creditors forced Ampad into bankruptcy in early 2000, and hundreds of workers lost jobs during Ampad’s decline. Bain Capital and its investors, however, had already taken more than $100 million out of the company, in debt-financed dividends, management fees, and proceeds from selling shares on public stock exchanges.

By the time Ampad failed, Randy Johnson, the former union official in Marion, Ind., had moved on with his life. After the Indiana plant shut down, he worked nearly six months to help the workers find new jobs. He later took a job at the United Paperworkers union.

“What I remember the most,” said Johnson, “were the guys in their 50s, breaking down and crying.”

In his reply to Johnson’s letter, Romney said the Ampad strike had hurt his 1994 bid to unseat Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and no one had a greater interest in seeing the strike settled than he.

“I was advised by counsel that I could not play a role in the dispute,” Romney explained, adding, “I hope you understand I could not direct or order Ampad to settle the strike or keep the plant open or otherwise do what might be in my personal interest” […]

Yuh-huh. See:

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dr. g.d.

“INDIANOLA, Iowa — Mike Huckabee called chief rival Mitt Romney ‘dishonest” today for what Huckabee said were gross distortions of his record, and said voters should question whether Romney would tell the truth if he were elected president,” writes Susan Milligan for the Boston Globe in an an article titled Huckabee says Romney is ‘dishonest’

“If a person will become president by being dishonest, just remember, if he becomes president, he likely will not be honest on the job,” Huckabee told voters at a restaurant campaign stop.

So apparently distressed at Romney’s criticism, Huckabee refused even to commit to voting for Romney for president if the former Massachusetts governor wins the Republican nomination. “I would never vote for a Democrat in the presidential election next year,” Huckabee said. But asked if he would prefer an honest Democrat to a “dishonest” Republican, Huckabee refused to answer … etc.

Thank you, Gov. Huckabee. We concur. Here is the problem for the party: Romney alienates and estranges all with whom he comes in contact—he had divided the other candidates against him—he is tearing the Republican coalition, the sad remnants that may be left of it, apart.

Question: Are we who value the person, character, and message of Gov. Mike Huckabee—or that of Sen. McCain, or that of Mayor Giuliani, or that of Sen. Fred Thompson—supposed to forgive and forget Romney’s lies, calumnies, and unprovoked abuse in the name of party unity?

Also, did Sen. McCain call Romney a pig? We sure hope so.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“MANCHESTER, N.H. – The battle between Mitt Romney and John McCain in New Hampshire’s Republican primary took a significant turn yesterday as Romney unveiled his first television advertisement attacking McCain’s record,” writes Michael Kranish, with the apt and able assistance of Michael Levenson in a Boston Globe article titled Attacking McCain seen risky for Romney

But the strategy entailed significant risks, possibly turning voters against both candidates and toward another contender, analysts said.

Romney’s negatives are preposterously high, higher than McCain’s. We discuss what it means for someone with high negatives to go negative on an opponent with lower negatives here:

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

Back to Kranish:

The ad calls McCain “an honorable man,” but questions whether he is “the right Republican for the future.” It says McCain favored amnesty for illegal immigrants and opposed President Bush’s tax cuts. McCain, who has revised his immigration proposal and later supported the tax cuts, laughed off the ad as the move of a candidate in a tailspin.

“I was encouraged because it was very clear that Governor Romney attacks when people are catching up with him,” McCain said at a news conference shortly after arriving in Manchester yesterday. “I understand why he is talking about the future, since he spent most of his time running away from his past.”

Last night McCain struck back at Romney, releasing a television commercial that quotes some stinging editorials this week about his opponent. Most prominently, the ad quotes the Concord Monitor editorial published on Sunday that urged voters to reject Romney, saying, “If a candidate is a phony . . . we’ll know it.” The ad also quotes the New Hampshire Union Leader saying that “Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that . . . Mitt Romney has not.”

By using the words of newspaper editorial writers instead of an anonymous announcer, McCain is hoping to add a tone of credibility and authority to his advertisement.

In response, Romney defended his ad and blasted McCain’s.

“We worked very hard to make sure it was accurate and honest and looks at contrasting issues,” Romney told reporters on his campaign bus in Iowa. “I begin the ad by indicating he’s an honorable man. I believe he is, and a good person. I make no attacks on his character. I make no attacks of a personal nature whatsoever.

“I’ve just seen the text of his ad,” Romney added. “It’s obviously of a very different nature. It’s an attack ad. It attacks me personally. It’s nasty. It’s mean-spirited. Frankly, it tells you more about Senator McCain than it does about me – that he’d run an ad like that” … etc.

Let us pass in review. Romney attacks Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain strikes back only harder. And Romney cries foul? On what possible grounds does this primped, preened, powdered, and pampered little man—a man who would be a complete non-entity were it not for his wealth and life of privilege—believe that he is entitled to lie about and abuse others with impunity?

Back to Kranish:

… David Carney, a New Hampshire political consultant who is not allied with any presidential campaign, said that Romney’s strategy is risky because, even if it turns voters against McCain, it might also turn them against Romney.

“If the ad is so successful it gets people to decide not to vote for McCain, it is highly unlikely they will go to Romney,” Carney said. “In a multicandidate primary race, it doesn’t help the attacker.”

Nonetheless, the ad is reminiscent of one of the most famous ads in the history of the New Hampshire primary, in which George H. W. Bush in 1988 attacked his rival, Senator Bob Dole, as “Senator Straddle.”

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducts polls for the Globe, said it is unclear whether the Romney ad will be effective because McCain has built up his reputation as a straight talker, which Smith said many voters respect “even if they disagree with him.”

We concur with Smith, and argue our case here:

Romney circles drain, goes desperately negative in Iowa AND New Hampshire

Another point: Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar. Will Romney’s negative advertising be as spectacularly ineffective as his other advertising?

Edsall: “Since January 1, 2007, the former Massachusetts governor has spent well in excess of $80 million, including at least $17.4 million of his own money, paying media fees in excess of $30 million, salaries of roughly $16 million, and consulting payments of more than $15 million”—more on Romney’s ridiculously low ROI for his every campaign dollar (iii)

Our conclusion: Romney believes that the GOP nomination is rightfully his. And why not?—he bought and paid for it. Therefore: Romney has demonstrated himself willing to destroy the characters and reputations of his rivals. Our question: How soon—and in what specific form—will the anti-Romney backlash suddenly appear?

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney is up with well over 1,000 gross ratings points in every major Iowa television market this week, a footprint that that is significantly larger than that of his nearest competitor,” writes Jonathan Martin for the politico.com in a post titled Romney saturating Iowa airwaves

Romney has purchased over 2,000 points on Cedar Rapids TV, just over 1,700 in Des Moines and just shy of 1,500 in Davenport. The three markets comprise the vast swath of central and eastern Iowa and are the largest in terms of Iowans reached in the state. The records were provided by a Democratic source who tracks media buys.Roughly speaking, 1,000 points means that the typical viewer will be exposed to an ad 10 times in a given week. Ad buys larger than 1,000 points are generally considered as having reached “saturation.”

Beyond these three markets, Romney also has ads up in the four cities that serve Iowa viewers (including 1,900 points in the heavily GOP Sioux City market) … etc.

Further, while Romney hemorrhages money in Iowa for continuously diminishing marginal returns, he hemorrhages credibility in New Hampshire as

(a) No newspaper has endorsed him while the more liberal Concord Monitor and the conservative NH Union Leader have un-endorsed the hapless candidate

and

(b) Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain have formed an Iowa-New Hamphshire axis, as reported by Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe in a story titled McCain, Huckabee form unusual alliance against Romney

John McCain and Mike Huckabee have become unusual allies, united by their desire to stop Mitt Romney from winning the early presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While Huckabee and McCain have repeatedly criticized Romney, they have showered each other with affection. McCain has lauded Huckabee as “a man of integrity, honesty, and decency.” And Huckabee has praised McCain as “a true, honest-to-God American hero.”

The warmth between them may be heartfelt, but both men recognize that they need each other over the next two weeks. McCain needs Huckabee to beat Romney in Iowa’s Republican caucuses on Jan. 3, so that Romney is weakened for the New Hampshire primary five days later. And Huckabee needs McCain to draw votes from Romney in Iowa. Polls indicate McCain and Romney are in a statistical tie in New Hampshire, and Huckabee is leading Romney In Iowa … etc.

We predicted long ago that other campaigns would react by acting in concert to Romney’s ill-advised attempts to shut them out of the early states:

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

By concerting their activities, Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee significantly lower the costs of engaging Romney while forcing Romney to divide and disperse his efforts to resist them.

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dr. g.d.

“After months of debate within his campaign organization, Mitt Romney has decided to give a speech addressing his Mormon faith, a potentially pivotal step that reflects the surging candidacy of Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher who has been promoting himself explicitly as a Christian leader,” writes the Globe Staff’s Michael Levenson in an article titled Pressed, Romney to speak on his Mormonism; Will ‘share views on religious liberty’ as a Baptist rival leaps ahead in Iowa

NOTA: Levenson’s very headline links Team Romney’s Agony-in-Iowa to Romney’s sudden conversion on the issue of a Mormon-Kennedy speech. Yet further evidence of the disastrous timing of Romney’s speech—Romney’s decision is depicted as a concession, as an act of weakness or desperation.

Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said yesterday that Romney would give the speech titled “Faith in America” on Thursday at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.

“This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation, and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected,” Madden said in a statement. “Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.”

The problem for Romney is this: how can he “share … how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected” without endorsing the Mormon confession?—without drawing attention to the Mormon confession?—recall: Kennedy in 1960 argued that his confession would not inform his presidency—Romney must somehow argue the precise opposite. What was it Marx said about history repeating itself? First as tragedy, the second time as farce … Romney would be the farce.

The biggest historical precedent for Romney’s decision is the speech that John F. Kennedy delivered before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy sought in the speech to allay concerns among voters about his Catholicism.

NOTA: Romney has encouraged and Levenson endorses the link between Kennedy’s speech and Romney’s—once again, as in Iowa, as in New Hampshire, Romney and his crack staff have set up impossible-to-meet expectations for the hapless candidate. This is a pattern for Romney: he sets himself up not just to fail, but to fail spectacularly.

… Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor and Romney supporter who holds a leadership position in the Mormon Church, saw the decision as a sign that Romney is making a serious bid to become the first Mormon president.

“I’m delighted that he’s decided to do it,” Christensen said. “It really is a great church, and the more people can understand what it is and what it does, the more I think they’ll trust that he acts in the best interests of the country” … etc.

Christensen unwittingly articulates Romney’s peril: to argue that the Mormon confession is “a great church, and the more people can understand what it is and what it does, the more I think they’ll trust that [Romney] acts in the best interests of the country” would be death for the Romney candidacy—Romney would truly become the Mormon candidate whose task it is to draw the Mormon confession into the mainstream not of US public life,  because lots of Mormons already serve the public good in public life and public service with merit and distinction, but rather into the mainstream of the Evangelical movement, which is the audience Romney wants to address. Only this would be patently ridiculous—the primary process is neither the time nor the place for such a dialog.

Wolfe states the case more elegantly than we do:

… Wolfe said Kennedy’s approach would not be a strong model for Romney because many Republican voters, particularly Christian conservatives, bristle at the notion of separation of church and state and want religion to be a guiding principle for the next president.

“Kennedy’s speech was actually an antireligion speech; it was a don’t pay-any-attention-to-my-Catholicism speech,” Wolfe said. “In the 2007 Republican Party you can’t do that, because it’s a party that essentially has a religious test for the nomination” …

… Wolfe said the theological differences could put Romney in an awkward position.

“If he says something about Mormonism as his actual religion, it’s not going to please evangelicals too much,” Wolfe said. “But if he gives the kind of Jesus-is-my-personal-savior speech, evangelicals won’t buy it and he’s going to alienate his own Mormon friends.”

Wolfe said the wisest approach might be to explain the differences and similarities between Mormonism and mainline Christianity.

“If I were in his shoes, I would take a more honest approach and say this what I am, this is what Mormons believe, this is why we’re Christians,” Wolfe said. “He can’t deny who he is” … etc.

Yes. And an honest exposition of the distinctions between Romney’s confession and what Evangelicals consider to be normative may have been effective last summer or even as late as the ill-starred Value Voter’s Summit. Now, however, whatever Romney does, whatever Romney says, will appear as desperation in the very teeth of crashing poll numbers.

Kairos, Romney. Timing. It’s all about timing. See:

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.