Bronze-level articleMitt Romney

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Exquisitely-coiffured Governor Romney during his Blue Period.
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The main problem with trying to distance yourself from Romney is you don't know in which direction to head. Is it Governor Romney, pro-choice and advocate of what looks like Obamacare? Or is it Candidate Romney who is opposed to both those things? Is it Primary Romney, pandering to the social conservatives and warmongers? Or is it Late Campaign Romney who thinks there might be a place for people who are outside the mainstream and who just wants everyone to get along? Is it Private Equity Romney who wants the US government to get out of emergency relief and turn it over to the private sector? Or is it this week's Romney who thinks FEMA is just great in its response to Sandy?
—BlackAcre[1]

Willard Mitt "Mittens" Romney (born March 12, 1947) was the best only hope the Republican Party had to defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 US Presidential Election.

Romney's claims to fame are saving the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics from rampant corruption, and introducing a prototype of Obamacare to Massachusetts in 2006. However, he is probably most notable for his perfect hair.

Romney served as governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

While he won the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, he did not enjoy enthusiastic support from his party's rank and file, and critics on the right often painted him as a RINO. Romney is a man of deep conviction who holds fast to his principles unless it is convenient to abandon them, leading The Economist to characterize him as "several vertebrae short of a backbone."[2]

Contents

[edit] Religion

Romney's membership in the Mormon Church was an element of controversy in the run-up to both the 2008 and 2012 primaries. His faith was at first thought to be a substantial handicap to his candidacy, as 22% of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon as president (though JFK was elected despite similar opposition to Catholicism at the time).[3] The critical question for Romney and the Republican Party perhaps was: What proportion of Republicans would prefer a comfortable chair in front of a television, rather than go out and vote for a Mormon?[4] In the end, though, it didn't matter.[5]

He avoided the Vietnam draft for several years through studying and Mormon missionary work.[6] Later, he wanted to nuke Iran.

As a political grandstander, he was firm in pointing out that in the West, "marriage" has meant "one man and one woman" for over two thousand years, not just since 1890 when the Mormon church leaders caved before the U.S. government seizure of all their property experienced a divine revelation and gave up polygamy. Despite being a Mormon, he has had fewer wives than Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan, or Rudolph Giuliani, as he has only married one woman, to whom he remains married to this day.[7]

[edit] 2008 campaign

In 2008, Romney attempted to woo social conservatives by running as a right-winger, a significant departure from the moderate positions which he held during his days in Massachusetts. He flip-flopped on abortion, gun control and a whole lot of other hot-button issues (see below).[8] Romney also claimed that he'd seen his father march with Martin Luther King, though it was proved that both of them had been in different places at the time. This earned him the coveted "Pinocchio Award" for lying from the Washington Post, as well as a "Pants on Fire" rating from PolitiFact.[9] He also wanted to show everyone how tough he is by doubling the size of the Guantanamo Bay prison.[10]

Romney's 2008 campaign was surprisingly free of personal scandals and embarrassing revelations. The only notable mini-scandal involved one of Romney's senior aides, Director of Communications Jay Garrity, who took a peculiar approach to handling the press: he and a few other campaign workers dressed up as policemen and used fake badges to order reporters away from events and avoid highway tolls.[11][12]

Mitt Romney suspended his campaign on February 7, 2008 after seeing his results in the Super Tuesday primaries, saying that staying in the race "would make it easier for Senator Clinton or Senator Barack Obama to win" and that his campaign would "be a part of aiding surrender to terror." He then endorsed John McCain on February 14 (mmm... Valentine's Day). This must have impressed McCain, as he later considered Romney as a potential choice for a running mate.[13]

[edit] 2012 campaign

Romney took another shot at the presidency, but his record for flip-flopping made it hard to ascertain exactly what he would have done in office.

Romney had hurdles to overcome; he's not very popular among his own party's base, and tends not to come across as the type of guy people like.[14] That said, throughout the primary campaign he was portrayed by the media as the presumptive nominee, most likely because almost all of the other Republican candidates were batshit crazies who wouldn't stand a chance in the general election.

Romney's drive to secure the nomination did not come cheap. He spent four times as much money per vote (and three times as much per delegate won) as Rick Santorum.[15] At times, he did outraise Barack Obama, who raises money well, both in smaller increments from a broad donor base and in large donations to so-called "Super PACs."

Romney announced in late August that his campaign would "not be dictated by fact checkers."[16] This may have been a less-than-prudent move on his part, as the fact checkers ultimately wound up pounding every noxious lie he was caught in into a thin paste of noxious pasty lying stuff.

After all was said and done, Romney's campaign ended about fifteen minutes after the West Coast polls closed, in one of the quickest "dead heat" races in history, with Oregon and/or Ohio (depending on what station you were watching) putting Obama over the top and not a recount threat in sight.

[edit] Primary and caucus highlights

Romney's campaign for the Republican nomination revealed the deep ideological fault lines in the party:

  • Iowa Republicans were pretty much evenly split between Romney and Rick Santorum.[17] Although Santorum won a narrow victory after a recount,[18] the margin was a mere 8 votes.
  • Despite the caliber of the opposition, the Bible Belt state South Carolina had little confidence in him, throwing their weight behind Newt Gingrich.[19]
  • Romney did well in Florida, a state whose panhandle is in the Bible Belt.[20]

However, a few hiccups aside, once Santorum pulled out (heh), it became clear that Romney would secure the nomination. In effect, his faction — finance capital — once again subordinated the other factions (the Religious Right and various other globules of bigotry) as useful idiots.

[edit] Obama

On May 31, 2011 Romney called Barack Obama "one of the most ineffective Presidents" he's ever seen, and argued that he could beat him in the general election.[21] That sufficed at the time to set him apart from the rest of the field, making him the closest thing to a frontrunner. For the 2012 campaign, Romney has apparently given up on trying to sell himself as a social conservative, and based his candidacy mostly on criticizing Obama's handling of the economy:

Obama did not cause this recession, but he made it worse... it will be essential to have a person who understands how the economy works, understands what it takes to create and grow jobs, in the White House.[22]

After Romney made the assertion in his announcement speech, fact-checkers demolished it. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession ended in June of 2009.[23] The Associated Press, meanwhile, pointed out that GDP picked up modestly after Obama took office, adding that while unemployment is still very high, "the recession officially ended six months into his presidency,” which is obviously an improvement. Yet Romney was cheerfully repeating the bogus claim again. What is being seen here are the limits of fact-checking — something rediscovered every election cycle:

  1. Candidates, party committees and outside groups make false claims.
  2. Media fact-checkers go to work and debunk the claims.
  3. The candidates and groups go right on making them anyway.
  4. Reporters stop pointing out that they’re false.

Romney seemed to hope that a lie repeated often enough will eventually be believed, and he might be right on that account. When challenged he tried to deny he had ever said it.[24]

[edit] Romney-care problem

Did someone say hideously dishonest? Mitt Romney is up to the task.
—Fred Clark[25]

Mitt Romney faced harsh criticism for stating that nothing is "more misguided and egregious" than the Obama administration's federal health care overhaul. He then went on to state "Obamacare is bad law constitutionally, bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families,” Romney said. “The federal government isn’t the answer for running health care any more than it’s the answer for running Amtrak or the Post Office."[26] Despite his relentless attacks on Obamacare, on September 9, 2012 Romney said on Meet the Press that there are some things about the recent health care reform that he liked and would continue under his own plan, including letting young adults keep their coverage that they get from their parents' plan and "[making] sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage."[27]

This is because the Massachusetts' health care overhaul he signed into law in 2006 served as the model for the federal legislation.[28] And the Democrats have even thanked Romney on their website for the model he gave them.[29] Romney proudly touts the law in his list of achievements, while refusing to acknowledge large similarities between the two laws. When pushed about how he stated it was unconstitutional at a federal level, he pleaded it was different because it's a state plan.[30]

Trying to help uninsured sick people get better is a serious weakness in the eyes of some Republicans as The Onion notes.[31]

[edit] Unemployment

Apart from bashing Obama, Romney also frequently promised voters that the unemployment situation would dramatically improve once he was in office, and as late as February 1st he was promising an era of prosperity. How exactly does he plan to get people working? Mitt just said he'd "focus, focus, focus." That certainly sounds impressive, but what will Romney focus on? Mitt did not say anything clear about that. He’d just "focus, focus, focus" on something or other and somehow that will create jobs.[32] Since he already made the same promise during his tenure in Massachusetts, it was worth checking out his record:

Massachusetts was one of just four states that by the time of the financial crisis still had not recovered all the jobs they had lost during the 2001 recession. And, as Romney’s opponents have pointed out, the state ranked 47th in job creation during his term.
Washington Post[33]

Despite this less-than-stellar achievement, his supporters still hoped that the whole country would fare better under his leadership than Massachusetts did; his opponents, on the other hand, argued that if Mitt Romney’s an economic "heavyweight," we’re in trouble.[34]

[edit] Lying about job creation

WaPo gave Romney the Pinocchio award again because he lied about firms under his control creating jobs in the private sector. Romney further lied about jobs falling in the auto industry under Obama when auto jobs in fact increased:

But since January 2009, when Obama took office, overall there has been an increase in jobs. The number of jobs hit a low point in November 2009, but then it has slowly inched upward so that Obama can point to the auto industry and says there has been a net gain.
Washington Post[35]

Even worse, the Romney campaign then claimed the Obama bailout was his idea.[36]

[edit] Lying about 47% of Americans

The only person who has seen Romney's taxes is John McCain and he took one look and picked Sarah Palin.
—Democratic strategist James Carville[37]

Romney did not know he was being taped when he said "47% of Americans don't pay income tax," they see themselves as victims, won't take personal responsibility for their lives and expect the state to provide. 47%, Romney said will vote for Obama come what may and Romney will disregard them.

Ironically, he got 47% of the vote in the actual election. Meaning, 47% were actually willing to vote for Romney,[38] at least they were before they found out he insulted them and doesn't care about them. Did fewer of them vote for Romney now? But perhaps they did anyway, after Romney epically flip-flopped again when on October 4, 2012, he admitted on Fox News that, "Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right, in this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."[39]

[edit] Cutting spending

Romney is campaigning on a promise to cut public spending, eliminate some government departments and merge others. Romney has been cagey about exactly how he would enact budget cuts.[40][41] He told private sponsors a bit about his plans when he had no idea reporters were listening in; what the reporters overheard heard led to speculation that education and public housing may be targeted for cuts should Romney win the election.[42]

[edit] Same-sex marriage

Romney opposes same-sex marriage or civil unions that are marriage in all but name — supporting some partnership benefits such as hospital visitation rights. Romney further opposes federal recognition of gay marriage and gay civil unions.[43][44]He even garnered the support of the National Organization for Marriage.[45]

[edit] Personal income tax

Romney earned $21.7 M in 2011, and while his marginal take rate would have been approximately 35%[46], he admitted during his 2012 bid for president that he paid only 14% and generally pays "all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more."[47]

[edit] Political positions

Romney apparently is a politician, and as such, presents a strong principled position from time to time. The trouble is his principles change so much it becomes hard to tell what he stands for or will stand for in the future.[48]

Issue Flip Flop
Abortion "I respect and will protect a woman’s right to choose. This choice is a deeply personal one. Women should be free to choose based on their own beliefs, not mine and not the government’s." (2002)[49] "I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother." (2005)[49]
Gun control "That's not going to make me the hero of the NRA. I don't line up with the NRA." (1994)
"We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them. I won't chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety." (2002)[50]
"I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I'm a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms." (2008)[50] - The part about owning a gun was a lie, by the way.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell "Clinton’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military is a fine first step, but must ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military." (1994)[51] "As for military policy and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, I trust the counsel of those in uniform who have set these policies over a dozen years ago. I agree with President Bush’s decision to maintain this policy and I would do the same." (2006)[51]
Stem cell research "He supports stem cell research on new and existing lines, in both private and federally funded settings.” - Romney's spokesman in 2004[52] "The governor has never been a proponent of expanded federal funding or state funding for embryonic stem cell research.” - Romney's spokesman in 2007[52]

[edit] Etch-a-Sketch

In an interview on CNN, a campaign staffer for Romney responded to questions regarding Romney's far-right positions during the primary hurting him in the general election by stating that Romney can "reset"[53]:

It's almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.
—Eric Fehrnstrom[54]

The obvious redundancy of "restart all over again" aside, opponents Santorum and Gingrich jumped on this gaffe to show further how Romney's political views change with the wind.[55] Romney later backtracked from his staffer's statement, saying his political positions would remain the same during the general election.[56] The statement and its backlash, however, did cause a temporary spike in the stock price of Ohio Arts, the creator of the Etch-a-Sketch[57] as well as a 15-fold increase in sales on Amazon.com.[58] The comparison also drew fire from Rachel Maddow who not only criticized Romney for his ever-changing positions but also remarked that Ohio Arts was now producing the Etch-a-Sketch in China at substandard wages — even by Chinese standards — a move that had been previously decried by major purchaser Toys "R" Us, a company owned by Bain Capital, which Romney co-founded.[59]

[edit] Internal Polling

Romney's campaign conducted its own polls, which showed Romney as the favored candidate, and dismissed as biased[60] the independent polls that gave the advantage to Obama. Yeah. Guess how that went? Reportedly, Romney and his people were genuinely shocked; Romney hadn't even bothered to write a concession speech, and was forced to improvise one.[61]

[edit] Miscellaneous weirdness

[edit] Bullying a blind teacher

Young Romney pretended to help a blind teacher; he guided the blind man through one set of doors, then laughed hysterically as the teacher bumped into a second set of closed doors.[62]

[edit] Cutting hair

During the campaign, allegations emerged that when Romney was 17, at the elite Cranbrook School, he helped gang up on a boy who was visibly gender-nonconforming and rumored to be gay. While his cronies held the boy down, Romney forcibly cut his hair.

It's a haunting memory, when you see somebody who is simply different taken down that way and is terrified and you see that look in their eye, you never forget it.
—Philip Maxwell, one of Romney's classmates.[63]

Romney claims he forgot about that, though the victim certainly did not. Romney also viewed poorer students with disdain, "souring" upon learning that a classmate commuted from east Detroit.[64]

[edit] Mitt the Ripper

Romney argues that "corporations are people." How did he treat those people? As one analysis put it, as head of Bain Capital, he "...bought companies, carved them up and got rid of what he couldn’t use."[65]

[edit] Subsidiaries include LexCorp, Weyland-Yutani, and Umbrella Corporation

Mitt originally co-founded Bain Capital with investments from Central American war criminals.[66]

[edit] Mitt the superpatriot

To kickoff the campaign season, Mitt toasted his wealthiest donors aboard his yacht, the Cracker Bay, as a Cayman Islands flag fluttered overhead.[67]

[edit] One law for the rich and another for the poor

If a mother is poor and on welfare she should be forced to go out and work, because Mitt thinks work is more dignified. However, if a mother is wealthy (like his own wife) and is staying at home to raise children, then that is hard, dignified work and an acceptable career choice.[68]

[edit] Mitt the dog lover?

Is it kind to keep a dog in a carrier, strap it to the roof of a station wagon, and keep there for the duration of a long road trip, even when the animal shits itself in sheer terror? Romney's critics don't think so.[69]

[edit] Unfortunate coincidence

A ship named the "HMS Romney" was once used to enforce import taxes in the North American colonies.[70]

[edit] Cold fusion

I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with — with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.[71]

[edit] Diplomacy? What's that?

In July 2012 Romney went on an international trip in an attempt to portray himself as worldly and presidential. It was an unmitigated failure, with Romney insulting just about everyone he engaged with.[72] While at Downing Street, the United Kingdom's seat of government, Romney forgot the name of the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, referring to him throughout the conversation as "Mr. Leader."[73]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Massachusetts’s Republican Senator distances himself from Romney in campaign, The Globe and Mail
  2. American politics: The right Republican, The Economist
  3. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman aim to seize America's 'Mormon moment', The Guardian
  4. Mitt Romney's problem with evangelicals, The Guardian
  5. For Mormons, Mitt Romney's loss was still a win for their faith, Los Angeles Times
  6. Mormon church obtained Vietnam draft deferrals for Romney, other missionaries, The Boston Globe
  7. Mitt Romney Is Married. To One Woman. To The Only Woman He's Ever Married. Hint, Hint, Slate
  8. Top Romney Flip-Flops, Washington Post
  9. Romney Wins WaPo Pinocchio Award, The Phoenix
  10. Double Trouble, TIME
  11. Fortune reporter: Garrity pulled me over, too
  12. Romney Aide Resigns in Badge Controversy, The New York Times
  13. Report: Romney's wealth played role in '08 VP pick, USA Today
  14. ‘Likability’ scores are hurdle for Romney
  15. Romney Spending at Least Four Times As Much Per Vote As Santorum, New York Magazine
  16. Mitt Romney Campaign: We Will Not 'Be Dictated By Fact-Checkers', Huffington Post
  17. Iowa caucuses: Romney pips Santorum, BBC
  18. Mitt Romney stripped of Iowa win after recount, The Guardian
  19. South Carolina poll: Gingrich triumphs over Romney, BBC
  20. Mitt Romney scores big Florida primary win, BBC
  21. Mitt Romney Blasts Obama: 'One Of The Most Ineffective Presidents,' He's 'Failed', Huffington Post
  22. Mitt Romney again repeats debunked claim that Obama made recession “worse”, Washington Post
  23. US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions, NBER
  24. Romney flip-flops on charges against Obama, CBS News
  25. "Obama drops F-bomb: Tells ‘Internet’ to ‘F— off’", Slacktivist
  26. Mitt Romney's prescription for 'Obamacare': Repeal it, Politico
  27. Romney Wants to Keep Key Parts of Obamacare, The Atlantic
  28. News analysis: Comparing Obama and Romney health laws, USA Today
  29. Say "Thanks" to Mitt Romney
  30. Transcript: Mitt Romney on Fox News
  31. Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People
  32. Mitt Romney will say anything to become President, Los Angeles Times
  33. As Massachusetts governor, Romney had an unremarkable record on jobs, Washington Post
  34. If Mitt Romney’s an economic heavyweight, we’re in trouble
  35. Mitt Romney’s claim that 100,000 auto jobs have been lost under Obama, Washington Post
  36. Romney campaign aide claims auto bailout was Romney's idea, The Hill
  37. Carville: Romney losing the fight over Bain, CBS News
  38. Fact-checking Romney's "47 percent" comment, CBS News
  39. Romney on 47% comments: I was completely wrong, CNN
  40. Romney offers policy details at closed-door fundraiser, MSNBC
  41. What would Romney cut? Overheard conversation holds clues, Los Angeles Times
  42. Romney offers possible policy details in Florida fundraiser, Los Angeles Times
  43. Mitt Romney reaffirms opposition to gay marriage and civil unions
  44. Mitt Romney Not Eager To Play Up His Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage, Talking Points Memo
  45. http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/advocate-45/2012/08/21/45-biggest-homophobes-our-45-years?page=full
  46. Historical Average Federal Tax Rates for All Households
  47. Wealthy Romney reveals 14% taxes
  48. Mitt Romney: Flip-flopper or not?, Washington Post
  49. 49.0 49.1 Mitt Romney Shifts on Abortion
  50. 50.0 50.1 Romney’s Pro-Guns Speech To NRA Includes Only One Mention Of Guns, Think Progress
  51. 51.0 51.1 Mitt Romney’s Top 5 Flip-Flops
  52. 52.0 52.1 Romney Faces Another ‘Flip-Flop’ Question: Has He Changed on Stem Cells?, The New York Times
  53. Sexism, plutocracy, bigotry? What does the Republican nominee stand for?, The Guardian
  54. Advisor: Romney will change positions like an Etch-a-Sketch after primary, The Raw Story
  55. Santorum: Voters were afraid Romney was Etch-a-Sketch, The Raw Story
  56. Mitt Romney camp’s latest gaffe may be etched in history, Washington Post
  57. Stock price went from $4.00 to $12.50 USD, representing a more than 200% increase in value to shareholders, should they have dumped at the peak. [1]
  58. Etch-a-Sketch Sales Rank on Amazon Jumps 1,556% After Romney Aide's Remark, Mashable
  59. Is your head spinning yet?
  60. Does this by any chance remind you of the talk about how biased the "liberal media" is?
  61. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-impeachment/2014/08/01/1f00f4ea-1808-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html?hpid=z4
  62. Romney faces accounts of homophobia and bullying, The Irish Times
  63. Romney Apologizes For High School Bullying Incident, NPR
  64. Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents, Washington Post
  65. Colbert’s ‘Super PAC’ Runs Attack Ad, The New York Times
  66. Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied to Death Squads, Huffington Post
  67. Romney Party Yacht Flies Cayman Islands Flag, ABC News
  68. Mitt Romney's flip-flop on stay-at-home moms: Will it matter?, Christian Science Monitor
  69. Mitt Romney’s dog-on-the-car-roof story still proves to be his critics’ best friend, Washington Post
  70. You can't make this up
  71. You Didn’t Solve That, Patheos
  72. From Burgoyne to Romney: Blunders Abroad, The New Yorker
  73. In Mitt's defence, forgetting Ed Miliband's name and his existence in general, is easily done.
  74. "Nobody seems to find it weird Mitt Romney used to dress up like a police officer and pull people over for fun?"
United States 2012 Presidential election articles on RationalWiki
Topics: 2012 U.S. Presidential Election - Democratic Party - Debate:Religious beliefs and public office - Republican Party - Same-sex marriage - United States Electoral College
Candidates: Michele Bachmann - Newt Gingrich - Mitt Romney - Rick Santorum - Ron Paul
Winner: Barack Obama (incumbent)
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