At this point, the possibilities for what this post will discuss are becoming numerous. Will it be “driving two Cadillacs,” “great friends who own NASCAR teams” or something else? I think it says all you need to know about the Republican Party’s “inevitable” nominee that the gaffes and flip-flops are becoming legion. And that is before we get into the subject of his misstatements, misrepresentations and distortions.
I thought his quote explaining the difficulty in winning his “home state” of Michigan (as opposed to his “home” states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Utah and California) was actually both interesting and authentic — a word rarely used to describe Romney. He said he wasn’t willing “to set his hair on fire” to appease the GOP’s right-wing base. If he left it at that, I would have said “kudos” even though it is obviously untrue. But he prefaced that quotation by stating “if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusatory and attacking President Obama that you’re going to jump up in the polls.” Uhh … to take just one example, doesn’t saying the President of the United States is engaged in a “war on religion” meet that standard? And that is the segue for today’s version of “Mitt Does it Again.”
Yesterday, he was asked by a reporter in Ohio if he supported the law proposed by Senator Roy Blunt that would allow all employers to refuse to pay for contraceptive coverage if it is a matter of conscience. As most sentient people in the United States know, the supposed outrage over an Obama Administration proposal to require employers to provide such coverage became a major issue about three weeks ago, with GOP candidates and the Catholic Church leading the charge. Enter Senator Blunt who introduced the legislation that was the subject of the question to Romney and is to be voted on in the Senate today. Romney responded, in part, “I’m not for the bill.”
Someone in his campaign apparently realized quickly that this would be a position unsettling to the hair-igniting Republican base, and quickly retracted his opposition, replacing it with support for the legislation, and explaining that “the way the question was asked was confusing.”
Let’s count how many ways this is harmful to Romney’s candidacy.
Number 1: Is there no one on his staff who briefed him on an issue that was supposedly so significant three weeks ago and was going to be brought to a vote in the United States Senate the next day?
Number 2: Is the candidate himself — someone known for his intelligence and attention to detail — so lacking in curiosity on matters of public import that he has to be briefed in order to respond coherently?
Number 3: His abrupt change of position reinforces the image of him as a flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. Let’s not forget that this was the second time in Ohio that he announced one position on controversial legislation and had to reverse himself within a matter of hours.
Number 4: He once again demonstrated that he cannot make non-scripted comments without getting into trouble. If the Republican nominee is someone who can only be trusted to recite scripted, non-substantive pablum, this party is in worse trouble than anyone can imagine.
Number 5: The explanation for the supposed “confusion” was a lie. Let’s look at what else the candidate said to the reporter. First, immediately after stating his opposition, he said, “the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there.” In response to a follow-up, Romney said, “contraception is working just fine, let’s leave it alone.” I also have a recollection that in one of the numerous Republican debates he advocated a similar approach. So how does someone who can articulate those views, showing a level of enlightenment not common among the non-Ron Paul candidates, say he did not understand the question? As I have observed before, Romney’s penchant for not telling the truth is going to haunt him big time come the general election.
So there it is. Stay tuned for the next gaffe or flip-flop.