The mood over at Democrat National Committee headquarters might best be characterised as ‘yippeeeeeeeeee!’
Reports that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was spotted doing the macarena atop her desk while Donna Brazile necked Mojitos are at this stage unconfirmed.
Romney’s ill-phrased remarks the morning after his Florida primary win – actually a comment about the relative cushion afforded the very poor by the welfare system, as opposed to the middle classes who are hemmed in on all fronts by taxes, small business regulation, rising mortgage payments, and middle-management layoffs – will become a staple of Obama campaign attack ads should the former Massachusetts governor secure the Republican nomination. Taken out of context, it’s a killer line, reinforcing the caricature of Republicans as heartless and Romney as an asset-stripping corporate scuzzball (his ‘I like being able to fire people‘ will help too). It will get a lot of airplay and in tough economic times might resonate with hard-pressed middle-income voters in key states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina.
But gaffes are headaches. Some half-decent opposition research would turn up dozens of similarly unhelpful statements from President Obama and senior Democrats. What has really wounded Romney – fatally, I fear – is his acceptance of Donald Trump’s endorsement.
And it wasn’t a quick grip-and-grin for some photographers. This was maximum suckage in an upwards direction. Romney, grinning like the dickweed kid who finally got picked for the football team, gushed: ‘There are some things that you just can’t imagine happening in your life. This is one of them. Being in Donald Trump’s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight.’
Then: ‘Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works to create jobs for the American people. He’s done it here in Nevada, he’s done it across the country. He understands our economy is facing threats from abroad. He’s one of the few people who’s stood up and said, you know what, China has been cheating. They’ve taken jobs from Americans; they haven’t played fair.’
Someone make it stop.
But no; there was one last indignity (for now).
Quoth Mitt: ‘I spent my life in the private sector [turning to Trump] not quite as successful as this guy.’
By this point, it appeared Romney was there to endorse Trump.
The images of Romney making puppy dog eyes at the harebrained hairpiece will vie for airtime with the ‘very poor’ line. Why? Because this is the man Romney just shackled himself to:
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in January 2011, Trump dogwhistled: ‘Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I’ll go a step further: the people that went to school with him, they never saw him; they don’t know who he is. Crazy!’ He pushed the meme a little further in a March interview with ABC News, saying: ‘[Obama] grew up and nobody knew him. You know? When you interview people, if ever I got the nomination, if I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten. They’ll remember me. Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he is until later in his life. It’s very strange. The whole thing is very strange.’
A few days later, on The View, he just came out with it: ‘Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? … I wish he would because I think it’s a terrible pall that’s hanging over him,’ he told a confounded Joy Behar. An interview on Fox News put Bill O’Reilly in the novel position of defending Obama after Trump spitballed possible reasons for the President’s withholding of the birth certificate: ‘People have birth certificates. He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know.’
‘The grandmother in Kenya is on record saying he was born in Kenya,’ he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which was not just crazy but a fib – a whopper, an East-African-nation sized whopper. Not content with barfly bloviating, Trump turned his loud mouth into a crusade, dispatching private investigators to Hawaii – Obama’s non-Kenyan place of birth – to uncover the truth about Obama’s citizenship. The White House finally released the longform birth certificate in the hope of putting an end to the conspiracy theories. Not so much. Trump began questioning the authenticity of the document and is on record as recently as December 5, 2011 calling it ‘a violation of the law’.
Mitt Romney’s new best friend is a conspiracy crank who believes the President of the United States concocted a phoney birth certificate to conceal his Kenyan nationality and Muslim faith. Why on Earth did a guy as starch-collar straight as Romney get on a stage with a travelling sideshow act? Publicity? Maybe. Poll boost? Who knows. Money? Very likely. But those benefits are fleeting and will not carry half the impact of the chiller-scored thirty-second ad that opens ‘Does Mitt Romney believe the President was born in Kenya?’
I like Romney and I think he’d make a good president but this was a mistake – a terrible one – and I’m left to ask: Has Mitt Romney thrown away his shot at the White House for the warm words of a crackpot and a fool?