Everybody Hates Romney
A couple of days before the Republicans’ New Hampshire primary, ABC hosted a debate for the GOP field, during which every candidate on the stage attacked Mitt Romney. Huckabee hit him on Iraq, Thompson hit him on healthcare, Giuliani hit him on immigration, and McCain hit him on everything. Romney wasn’t actually leading in the polls at that point — that would have made the criticisms easier to explain — and hadn’t picked any fights during the debate.
It was a reminder that, for all the competing interests and personalities in the Republican contest, these guys really don’t like Mitt Romney.
Here’s my favorite quote from an article in the New York Times today by Michael Luo on the same subject. It’s made by Dan Schnur, “a Republican strategist who worked on Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign bid in 2000 but is not affiliated with any campaign now”:
“John McCain and his friends used to beat up Mitt Romney at recess,” Mr. Schnur said.
In workplace terms, Romney’s that guy who started the same day as you but always lurked around the boss’s office and laughed a little too loud at his jokes. He frequently mentioned his superior academic credentials and his privileged upbringing, and gave the achievements of you and your other colleagues the hairy eyeball. He leapfrogged you all to senior management at a very young age. The other senior managers admire his hard work and intensity. But the hoi-polloi know they can trust him just about as far as they can hurl an eyelash.
I’m a little too specific in my description, aren’t I? You guessed it: I used to work with Mitt Romney. No, not the one running for president. I mean a carbon copy of his younger self. Though the guy has mellowed a lot in time (each success seemed to mollify some of his raging insecurity), I still don’t like or trust him. I’d never vote for him.
That’s the way I think a lot of people feel about Romney. It’s not his Mormonism, though it’s easy for us in the media to single out his religion. It’s that they feel they know the guy. They feel they’ve worked with and for the guy. And the guy is not to be trusted.
That’s why it was kind of sad to read Dean Barnett’s op-ed piece in the NYT, acknowledging Romney’s baldly obvious ambition but clinging to a memory of the man as truly decent, intelligent and hard-working.
I often marvel at how the public perception of Mr. Romney differs so radically from the man I know. The blame for this lies in the campaign he has run.
I’d kind of been cutting Romney a break all this time, choosing instead to focus my hatred on Rudy Giuliani, whom I believe is truly diabolical. If Rudy were my boss, I’d quit before he sucked the blood from my neck. But the Michigan primaries really stuck in my craw. There, Romney focused on the economy, promising all sorts of stuff to the beleaguered workers in that state: he’d spend his first 100 days in office figuring out the problems in the U.S. car industry, he said. He’d consider rolling back tougher laws on car emissions, even though he said the exact opposite in 2005, as Jennifer Rubin of American Standard points out.
Punditish says it best:
I can’t imagine it’s easy to both succeed in the world of politics and be completely honest at the same time. I, and most other voters, have accepted the fact that politicians must emphasize certain parts of their record (and downplay others) depending on who they’re speaking or appealing to at any given moment. But Romney’s promises to the voters of Michigan are untenable. They promise special treatment that goes against his broader stated principles.
I think Mitt Romney is a good man, and I think there’s a good candidate underneath all this politicking waiting to get out. But his desperation to win Michigan has, I think, brought out the worst in his campaign.