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Working the crowd

Justin Webb | 05:19 UK time, Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Justin Webb (far left) on the stage with Mitt RomneyI stood next to Governor Romney for a moment or two on the stage (a sign in itself of how small-scale and low budget the Republican effort is at the moment, compared with the big presidential-style hoopla surrounding Hillary and Barack) and witnessed the kind of incident that makes you wonder whether this man has what it takes to make voters like him. A girl (she might have been 14) was calling out: "Mr Governor, I had lunch with your cousin."

President Bush would have squeezed her hand and brushed her off - any decent campaigner would have - but Mitt Romney simply froze her out, did not answer, until she persisted to the extent that he had to say: "Great." Or words to that effect.

It sounded grudging and odd; and it did not need to. Of course, that doesn't mean he would be a bad president or that he is a bad man - but on a "rope line" he sucks, as they say here.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:20 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Sivat Murnaghan wrote:

He does seem (Romney, that is) rather like a life-size action man toy, capable of only a few basic mechanical movements and pre-programmed statements. Such an incident,therefore, does not surprise me.

  • 2.
  • At 09:36 AM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Greg Loutsenko wrote:

This election seems to be a bit of a beauty contest rather than a contest based on policy points and record. Seriously, who cares whether someone is likable or not. Look at G W Bush, by all accounts (even this blog entry) he was and is. Now look at what he has done, economy is near recession, massive budget deficit, 2 wars which is costing USA billions and no end in sight and a 3rd war with Iran on the way, and destroyed relations with the rest of the World.

  • 3.
  • At 12:39 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Rachel wrote:

Why aren't people asking Mormon Mitt Romney if he will turn a blind eye to polygamy?

  • 4.
  • At 02:02 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

#2Greg nice points. But, if as Justin is suggesting, a country like Iran held out its hand, for whatever reason, would Mitt accept it, would he freeze, would he react badly, would he be diplomatic??...which ever, the fact he needed prompting surely doesn't bode well.

  • 5.
  • At 02:33 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Al Thayer wrote:

Let's not make too much of Romney's win. This is a field of candidates who don't "fire up" the crowds. Given that, in Michigan the name Romney still has a certain cachet. I think it was the memory of George, not the sight of Mitt, the got him the votes.

  • 6.
  • At 02:49 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Sam Davis wrote:

Two interesting posts about Romney from the Cato Institute blog(1/16/08):

Conservatism Revealed

posted by Jerry Taylor

What does it say about the Republican Party when the leading fusionist conservative in the field - Mitt Romney, darling of National Review and erstwhile heir to Ronald Reagan - runs and wins a campaign arguing that the federal government is responsible for all of the ills facing the U.S. auto industry, that the taxpayer should pony up the corporate welfare checks going to Detroit and increase them by a factor of five, that the federal government can and should move heaven and earth to save “every job” at risk in this economy, and that economic recovery is best achieved by a sit-down involving auto industry CEOs, labor bosses, and government agents armed with Harvard MBAs to produce a well-coordinated strategic economic plan? That is, what explains the emergence of economic fascism (in a non-pejorative sense) in the Grand Old Party at the expense of free market capitalism?

I have no answer. But it certainly explains the increasing migration of libertarians voters to the Democratic Party. They may be no better, but at least the Dems offer libertarians something in social and foreign policy circles that the Republicans don’t.

posted by Jerry Taylor on 01.16.08 @ 9:00 am


Romney Revealed

posted by Michael D. Tanner

Mitt Romney’s victory in Michigan’s Republican primary last night throws the GOP race for president wide open. But it should also end once and for all the idea that Romney is the heir to Reagan-style conservatism.

For some reason, Romney has been able to claim the Reagan mantle despite his support for:

A health care plan virtually indistinguishable from the one proposed by Hillary Clinton;
Support for No Child Left Behind, calls for increased federal education spending, and a proposal to have the federal government give a laptop computer to every schoolchild in America;
Calls for increased farm price supports;
Support for the Medicare prescription drug benefit; and
An undistinguished record on taxes and spending as Massachusetts governor, earning a C on Cato’s governor’s report card, and including support for $500 million in increased fees and corporate taxes.
But in Michigan, Romney pulled out all the big government stops with a call for $20 billion in corporate welfare to revive the state’s struggling auto industry. Romney, who called his proposal “a work-out, not a bail-out,” also promised that as president he would develop “a national policy to help automakers.”

George W. Bush once said, “When somebody hurts, government has got to move.” Mitt Romney echoes that, “A lot of Washington politicians are aware of it, aware of the pain, but they haven’t done anything about it. I will.”

Ronald Reagan must be spinning in his grave.

posted by Michael D. Tanner on 01.16.08 @ 8:56 am

  • 7.
  • At 03:16 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Jim K wrote:

I'll admit to voting for ol' Mit during the Michigan primaries.

It wasn't really that he was so much better, it was that the others appealed to me even less. To me, the reason the race is so close is that it doesn't seem like any candidate is obviously worth consideration.

  • 8.
  • At 03:57 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Candace wrote:

We do not need another religious conservative in the White House. As a Mormon, even the evangelicals in his party are hesitant. Huckabee is more personable, but again a religious conservative. McCain may ultimately have wider appeal, but it is all still up in the air.

  • 9.
  • At 04:47 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • T Barnes wrote:

It's probably not fair to the man, but one TV moment from before Iowa put me off Romney. A reporter was trying to ask him a question about his negative ads against Huckabee, and Romney was refusing to answer. The look of the arrogant smirk on his face while turning away from the reporter sticks with me, and I don't think I could vote for him.

  • 10.
  • At 05:18 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

The term we use for Mitt Romney's relationship with Michigan is "Favorite Son" which means there is a special attachment there for him because he is from there and his father was governor. (I will never forget his father saying at one point when he became disillusioned with President Johnson's position on the war in Vietnam "I've been duped.") Mitt Romney's unsurprising win in Michigan therefore by itself is meaningless and is no indicator of his strength elsewhere. Super Tuesday, February 5 will tell us a lot more about how the candidates are really positioned vis a vis their relative political strength. Until then, all the media coverage is like merely looking at horse flesh before a race trying to figure out who will win, an exercise that's a complete waste of time...unless one or more horses stumbles and breaks a leg.

  • 11.
  • At 06:15 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Julia wrote:

Re: #2 - certainly, policy points and record should be given greater consideration than likability (although #4 makes an interesting point there as well). With a politically-underinformed public, however, likability matters a great deal more in terms of electability than perhaps it should. Maybe politicians count even more on that factor than the issues that might actually make a difference. And with little way of knowing how much to trust of what a politician says regarding policy, likability may serve as one constant that people feel they can count on. Whatever the reasons and however misguided they may be, likability does matter when you're talking about whether or not someone is electable by the public.

  • 12.
  • At 06:41 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

What I want to know is why the BBC and other mainstream news sources haven't reported that Huckabee has said he wants to change the US constitution to bring it into line with the word of the 'Living God'. Surely the news that a candidate wants to rewrite the constitution is newsworthy?!?

  • 13.
  • At 08:23 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • K. Tyson wrote:

I am no fan of Romney, but it is very clear that the GOP wants McCain to win. In fact, Tuesday evening they issued a public press release congratulating McCain for winning the Michigan primary!

"In a close-fought victory, Senator John McCain succeeded again (in) the Michigan Republican primary, winning over a traditionally unpredictable voter base in Michigan."

  • 14.
  • At 10:26 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • John Constable wrote:

The crystal ball has already settled down somewhat and the Republicans don't really have a candidate with widespread appeal.

Given the polararisation of Bush, they desparately needed to find a Reagan but have'nt.

So that is them done for.

That leaves Clinton and Obama.

Obama has the 'magic' and should win, provided he is not assassinated during the campaign, otherwise it will be Hillary Clinton.

  • 15.
  • At 11:20 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • robert wrote:

Interesting that although the Democratic primary in Michigan does not count for the convention delegates, the voters gave Hillary 55% of their votes.

  • 16.
  • At 11:42 PM on 16 Jan 2008,
  • Jesse Hamlin wrote:

Romney is an amazing leader and innovator, more so than his pathetic competition. He should show more of his personal side and I think that Michigan has helped him to do that. The Mormon issue should not still be coming up. Wall Street Journal printed in today's paper that the rest of the republicans are not even trying for Nevada even though 31 delegates are at stake(more than double the 12 available in New Hampshire). WSJ says that this is because of Nevada's large population. Harry Reid is the leader of the senate and he is a Mormon and he is a democrat so I don't think that the other candidates should shy away from any state with huge Mormon influence. Gladys Knight is a famous African-American Mormon who performs and lives in Las Vegas. The governor of Nevada(Jim Gibbons) is a Mormon and he is republican. My point is that everyone still has a chance in delegate rich Nevada even though Mormons do have a big influence in politics and business in the state. Their influence is broken up.

  • 17.
  • At 03:27 AM on 17 Jan 2008,

Justin Webb,calling Mitt Romney's low budget is way-off. Romney spends soo much money on negetive television ads,and has soo much money taking over companies, breaking them up and then selling the parts. He is a venture capitalist,puting money in his pocket and putting people out of work. Romney assertion that he has created jobs is false. I am from Massachusetts, Romney was the governer for four years in Massachusetts, Romney takes credit for health care legislation passed while in office, but does not fund the cost of health care in his budgets

  • 18.
  • At 12:09 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Eric Weaver wrote:

Like Gerald Ford, George Romney left many Michiganders like myself with fond memories of his benevolent administration. Unfortunately Mitt offers Michigan voters little of what his father brought - just a familiar name, changing positions and awkward moments. A roster of choices like Mitt has forced this moderate Republican over the fence to join the Democrats.

  • 19.
  • At 01:08 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • RS wrote:

Romney's behavior does seem odd for someone who wants to serve the people. That said, A lot of "proud" corporate CEOs do seem overly self-absorbed and quite disconnected from ordinary people. Just attend any corporate AGM and watch the typical CEO squirm as ordinary shareholders dare to ask the "big guy" questions.

Or maybe, in true CEO style, Mitt is simply focusing his energy on things to boost his bottom line: Everything else is ignored. 14 yr old kid = no vote = no bottom line benefit = ignore.

It does make me wonder what his priorities would be after being elected president. Once he no longer had to win the votes of the "little people", would he even acknowledge we exist?

  • 20.
  • At 01:42 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

Has anyone considered that his cousin might be the black sheep of the family and he doesn't want to go there?

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