Mitt Romney's repeated
that he played no part in executive decision-making
related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false,
according to Romney's own testimony in June 2002, in
which he admitted to sitting on the board of the
LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment
during the period.
Romney has consistently insisted
that he was too busy organizing the 2002 Winter
Olympics to take part in Bain business between 1999
and that event. But in the testimony, which was
provided to The Huffington Post, Romney noted that
he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. "[T]here
were a number of social trips and business trips
that brought me back to Massachusetts, board
meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth," he said.
Romney's sworn testimony was given
as part of a hearing to determine whether he had
status in Massachusetts to run for governor.
Romney testified that he "remained
on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott
International, the LifeLike Corporation" at the
Yet in the Aug. 12, 2011,
federal disclosure form
filed as part of his presidential bid, he said, "Mr.
Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11,
1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any
active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not
been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital
entity in any way."
Bain, a private equity firm, held a
stake in the LifeLike Co. until the end of 2001,
including during the period in which Romney claimed
to have no business involvement with Bain entities.
Bain had heavily invested in LifeLike, a company
that Romney identified personally as an opportunity,
in 1996 and sold its shares in late 2001. His
involvement with LifeLike contradicts his assertion
that he had no involvement with Bain business. His
testimony is supported by his 2001 Massachusetts
State Ethics Commission filing, in which he lists
himself as a member of LifeLike's board.
Romney has long said that he took a
leave of absence from Bain because the work of
organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics was so grueling,
which has allowed him to deny responsibility for
Bain activities during 1999 and 2002.
His activities during that period
also included Staples board meetings: "I returned
for most of those meetings. Others I attended by
telephone if I could not return."
Bain was involved with Staples early
in its life, taking the
in 1989. Romney used his Bain position to obtain a
seat on the board, which he held into 2002. He
regularly cites the jobs that Staples created as
reflecting positively on Bain's record.
The Boston Globe on
blew a giant hole
in Romney's claim that he left the private equity
firm in 1999. The Globe reported that
Bain's own filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission suggest that Romney remained deeply tied
to the company until sometime in 2002.
Bain described Romney
in 2001 SEC filings
as the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board,
chief executive officer, and president." Another
form stated that he owned 100 percent of the company
in 2002 and received a six-figure salary from Bain
in 2001 and 2002. His listed title: "Executive."
The Romney campaign is still
sticking with its candidate's story.
"The article is not accurate,"
spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement released
to reporters following the Globe story. "As
Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said,
and as has been confirmed by independent fact
checker multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain
Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and
had no input on investments or management of
companies after that point."
Yet Romney's sworn testimony appears
to back up the SEC filings and contradict his
personal disclosure forms submitted to Massachusetts
officials in 2002, in which he said that he retired
from Bain on Feb. 11, 1999.
Romney's lawyer at the Massachusetts
hearing said that Romney's work in the private
sector continued "unabated" while he ran the
Olympics: "He succeeded in that three-year period in
restoring confidence in the Olympic Games, closing
that disastrous deficit and staging one of the most
successful Olympic Games ever to occur on U.S. soil.
Now while all that was going on, very much in the
public eye, what happened to his private and public
ties to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? And the
answer is they continued unabated just as they had."
Instead of leaving in 1999, Romney
suggested in his testimony that he only left Bain
after the Olympics in 2002: “I left on the
basis of a leave of absence indicating that I, by
virtue of that title, would return at the end of the
Olympics to my employment at Bain Capital, but
subsequently decided not to do so and entered into a
departure agreement with my former partners. I use
that in the colloquial sense, not legal sense, but
my former partners."
The opening statement delivered by
Romney's lawyer in the 2002 hearing said Romney
"continued to serve on the board of directors of a
significant Massachusetts company and to return here
for most of its board meetings."
In a statement released Thursday,
Bain defended Romney. "Mitt Romney left Bain Capital
in February 1999 to run the Olympics and has had
absolutely no involvement with the management or
investment activities of the firm or with any of its
portfolio companies since the day of his departure,"
the statement reads. "Due to the sudden nature of
Mr. Romney's departure, he remained the sole
stockholder for a time while formal ownership was
being documented and transferred to the group of
partners who took over management of the firm in
1999. Accordingly, Mr. Romney was reported in
various capacities on SEC filings during this
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It's important that you understand exactly what Romney did as a
businessman, and whether the lessons and values he drew from that
experience really do qualify him to be our president.
In a career of buying and selling companies, Romney's pattern was to
reap quick profits for himself and his investors, but often at the
expense of workers and communities. Sometimes it meant outsourcing jobs
to places like China and Mexico. Other times, it would mean reducing
wages and benefits.
At times, his firm would buy companies, load them with debt and pocket
millions, even as the companies went bankrupt, costing workers their
jobs, health care, and pensions.
In Romney's world, CEOs and wealthy investors prosper by any means they
can get away with, even when that means companies fail and workers are
left behind. Two sets of rules -- one for people like him, another for
the rest of us.
It's our job to let people know the truth about Romney's record, and
what it says about the economic vision and values he would bring to the
The real strength of the economy is a growing, thriving middle class,
not simply a band of successful financial engineers, and Romney doesn't
Romney and his partners bought companies across the United States, often
loading them up with debt in the process.
Too often, they slashed pensions, benefits, and jobs, while paying
themselves and their shareholders straight from the debt they'd
Because of that debt, several of these businesses went bankrupt, leaving
workers without jobs, without pensions, and without health care -- all
while Romney and his partners walked away with millions.
Everyone understands that businesses rise and fall -- and sometimes fail
-- and no one is challenging Romney's right to run his business as he
saw fit or questioning private equity as a whole.
But when a handful of people make a fortune by putting thousands out of
work and bankrupting once-healthy businesses, it's legitimate to
question whether those are the values America needs in a president --
and whether those are the values that will create an economy built to
last, with a strong, secure middle class.
On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney claims that what he and his partners
did is the very best of what capitalism can be. He claims to know how to
create jobs based on that experience, but even his former partners
admitted their business was never about creating jobs -- it was about
creating wealth for investors.
Just listen to the workers of GST Steel: Mitt Romney came in, ravaged it
with debt, and it ended up filing for bankruptcy. 750 workers lost their
jobs and health care, and Romney's managers left their pension fund $44
million short. The 113-year-old steel mill closed its doors, and
Romney's company made a 150% profit on their initial investment.
As RomneyEconomics.com shows, stories like that happened time and time
again. That approach, where a few people do very well no matter what the
cost to others, is the last thing we need in a president.
Romney's economics would be a disaster for the middle class. We can't
afford an economy where even when the company fails, the financial
wizards walk away with millions, while the workers who have invested
years growing the company are left holding the bag. That won't make our
economy -- or our country -- stronger.
As part of the Truth Team, it's up to us to spread the truth behind Mitt
Romney's business record. We don't need to spin it here, the facts speak
So take a look around the site -- check out the year-by-year statistics
and hear from the workers and managers affected by Mitt Romney and his
business partners. Then share these stories far and wide:
"I misspoke. I've said something that
is similar to that but quite acceptable for a long time. And you know
when you do I don't know how many thousands of interviews now and then
you may get it wrong. And I misspoke. Plain and simple," he said. "Well
what I said was my focus, my primary focus, is helping people get into
the middle class and grow the middle class."
He said later that he wasn't running
for president because of the wealthy. "The wealthy are doing just fine.
I'm not running for president for the wealthy. Who in the world would
care about running for president for the wealthy? I'm worried about the
great majority of Americans--the middle class of America and the poor
that used to be middle class, I want them back in the middle class."
The front-runner in the GOP nomination
race said Wednesday in a CNN interview that he was "not very concerned
about the very poor" because they have an "ample safety net."
"When I say 'don't stop the
foreclosure process' what I mean by that is the best way to stop it is
by getting the economy going so home values rise and people can meet
their obligations," he said. "That's the best way to stop foreclosures.
The idea of the government stepping in and trying to delay the
process--that only continues to have the overhang of foreclosures and
declining home values."
"The right course is not to say 'let's
have the government write big checks to people,'" he said.
Ralston pressed Romney on his
endorsement by Donald Trump,
and asked if the former Massachusetts governor was offended by the real
estate mogul's persistent questions about the validity of President
Barack Obama's birth certificate. "The way Donald Trump will address an
issue and the way I address an issue will often times be different," he
said. "That doesn't mean I'm going to reject the endorsement of people
of significance of this country who share values, who share beliefs on a
whole host of issues. If we can agree 80 percent of the time we're on
the same team."
Chronicling Mitt’s Mendacity,
By Steve Benen
Fri May 11, 2012 3:49 PM EDT
As the 2012 presidential
campaign advances, impatience with Mitt Romney’s penchant for
falsehoods grows. Jamelle Bouie this week reflected on the the
fact that “the former Massachusetts governor has no use for
honesty in his campaign.”
“Constant mendacity is the
norm for Romney and his campaign, and odds are good that he
won’t suffer for it,” Bouie wrote. “Campaign reporters don’t
have a strong incentive to challenge him on his
misrepresentations, and interested parties have a hard time
dealing with the deluge.”
And yet, we remain undeterred,
as evidenced by the 17th installment of my weekly series,
chronicling Mitt’s mendacity.
1. At an event in Euclid,
Ohio, Romney argued, “We will not forget the fact that when
[President Obama] was putting in place $787 billion of borrowing
in his first few months in office that he said the borrowing
would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.”
That’s a popular claim for
Romney, but it’s completely untrue.
2. Romney said in the same
remarks the only reason the unemployment rate dropped from 10%
to 8.1% is “because of the people that dropped out of the work
That’s demonstrably false.
3. At the event, Romney also
said of the president, “[H]is vision is that it is ok for a
small business to raise taxes from 35% to 40% of small
In reality, Obama has cut
taxes on small businesses, and raising the top income tax rate
would not adversely affect small businesses, no matter how often
Republicans argue to the contrary.
4. Romney added, “You know,
the number of ships in the U.S. Navy is smaller than any time
This one again? Romney dropped
this lie a while ago, but it’s apparently back.
5. Romney went on to say,
“Let me tell you, we will take America in a very different
place. He is taking America on a path towards Europe and Europe
is not working there. It will not work here.”
The irony is, Europe is trying
to grow through austerity, just as Romney intends to do here.
He’s lying in a self-refuting sort of way.
6. Romney also argued, “Syria
is Iran’s source of access to the Mediterranean.”
Iran doesn’t share a border
7. Romney said of the American
auto industry, “I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this
industry’s come back.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
8. In a speech in Michigan,
Romney said of Obama, “In his campaign kickoff speech last week,
he asked us not to think about these last four years…. The
president’s plea that we simply ignore the last four years is
his latest effort to escape responsibility for the failures.”
Obama actually did the
opposite, urging Americans to remember the last four years.
9. In the same speech, Romney
said Obama has tried “to blame others” for the slow recovery,
As his lies go, this one’s
10. He added, “President
Clinton said the era of big government was over. President Obama
brought it back with a vengeance.”
That’s the opposite of the
11. Romney also argued,
“Government at all levels now constitutes 38% of the economy,
and if Obamacare is installed, it will reach almost 50%.”
David Corn recently said this
is arguably Romney’s “biggest fib,” which falls “somewhere
between ‘ridiculous’ and ‘stupid.’”
12. Romney went on to say,
“Old-school liberals saw a problem and thought a government-run
program was the answer. Obamacare is the fulfillment of their
There is no universe in which
this makes sense — “Obamacare” relies on private insurers, not a
13. Romney also said of the
Affordable Care Act, “An unelected board will tell seniors what
treatments Medicare will cover.”
That’s not true.
14. He went on to argue,
“President Obama takes his marching orders from union bosses …
and even denies an American company the right to build a factory
in the American state of its choice.”
That’s wildly misleading and
he knows it.
15. Romney also said, “Have
you seen President Obama’s vision of the future? To help us see
it, his campaign has even created a little fictional character,
living an imaginary life filled with happy milestones for which
she will spend the rest of her days thanking President Obama.
It’s called ‘The Life of Julia.’ And it is a cartoon. Julia
progresses from cradle to grave, showing how government makes
every good thing in her life possible.”
That’s not at all what “The
Life of Julia” says.
16. Romney asked, “What does
it say about a president’s policies when he has to use a cartoon
character rather than real people to justify his record?”
Obama uses real people, with
real stories, to justify his record all of the time. That many
of these same real people would suffer under Romney’s agenda
17. The Romney campaign argued
this week that “the average cost of college has increased by
25%” under Obama.
That’s wildly misleading and
18. The Romney campaign also
argued this week that Obama has broken his promise “to pursue
all available energy sources, an ‘all of the above” policy.’
Actually, Obama’s still
pursuing an “all of the above” energy policy, which is nearly
identical to John McCain’s plan from 2008.
19. The Romney campaign also
blamed Obama this week for gas prices having “more than doubled”
since January 2009.
To call this comically
misleading would be an understatement.
20. And overnight, the Romney
campaign claimed that Obama has “now admitted that he’s
forgotten about the recession.”
That’s not even close to being
The New York Times’ David
Firestone said this week, after a Romney claim he called
“preposterous” and “breathtaking,” that the Republican
presidential candidate has “pushed the boundaries of veracity,”
but “hasn’t paid much of a price.”
That’s clearly a fair
assessment. It’s up to media professionals and voters to
determine whether Romney’s extraordinary detachment from the
truth is going to matter in this election or not. So far, the
former governor is gambling he can get away with falsehoods that
are as extraordinary as they routine, and by all appearances, at
for now, he’s right.
A few of his lies that have been fact
Go to politifact.com
Liberals, Go Ahead and
Hold Your Nose and Vote for Romney - This is what it will be like on
his First Day in Office.
Excerpt from an article at veracitystew.com on 02/09/2012
Mitt Romney sits behind the
President’s desk in the oval office. Before him sits a stack of
Behind him stands Eric Cantor,
John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. I can’t tell for sure, but it
looks like Eric Cantor might have his hand up the back of
Boehner’s suit coat and it looks like Cantor is manipulating
Boehner’s mouth. Cantor meanwhile looks like he’s mumbling the
same words Boehner is speaking. You know, kind of like a bad
Boehner seems to be saying in a rather puppet-like manner, “This
is a great day for America.” He keeps repeating the phrase, as
he raises a handkerchief to blot the tears from his cheeks.
Behind him Cantor grins.
Next to Boehner and directly
behind the President – Willard Mitt Romney – stands McConnell.
There’s kind of a haze in the room so I’m not sure I’m really
seeing marionette paddles attached to strings manipulating
Romney’s head and arms. I’m halfway convinced it’s just my
McConnell is crowing, “We did
it! We made that boy a one-term president. Now we got somebody
we can work with. You got work to do, Mr. President – right
Mitt picks up the pen and
begins to write his name on one of the documents.
“Let me see,
he says. “More tax breaks for the rich. Tax hikes on those
welchers, the poor and middle class wage earners who don’t pay
any income taxes. Done. Hahahaha
Street Reform. Thanks to
this Republican-led Congress, I can now keep my campaign promise
to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act. All efforts to hold Wall
Street accountable for its excesses during the Bush
Administration will cease immediately and that horrible,
horrible Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the illegally
appointed Czar Richard Cordray are gone, gone, gone. Hahahahaha
Healthcare for all.
Obamacare. Hahahaha. Outtahere. Repealed. Kiss those free
preventive mammograms and colonoscopies goodbye. Kick those 26
year olds off their parents’ plans. Make them go out and buy
their own. Tell the insurance companies they can go back to not
covering people with pre-existing conditions. Lifetime maximums
are back in place. Outrageous premiums are a-okay. Those people
will just have to let the market take its course. If they die,
well that’s just the way it is.
Reproductive Rights. I’ll
now sign this bill that strips Planned Parenthood of all federal
funding. Abortions can no longer be performed by any hospital or
facility receiving federal funding except in cases
immediately following forcible rape. Any abortions
performed by doctors after the first 24 hours will be punishable
by death. Employers will no longer be required to pay for birth
control – although men will still be able to get their Viagra,
hahaha – and this insane attack on religious freedom will come
to an end. Personhood has been determined to be at the moment of
sexual intercourse, and therefore, according to the legislation
I am signing today, birth control is no longer legal.
next piece of legislation confirms that there is no such thing
as gay rights. It affirms
the Defense of Marriage Act and reinstates “Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell” for gays and lesbians serving in the military. G-d meant
for marriage to be between a man and a woman, not between
members of the same sex, and therefore from this day forward all
same-sex marriages, wherever performed are declared null, void
and illegal anywhere in the United States.
“While some have attempted to
pass a Dream Act
that would enable illegal
aliens to establish legal status as United States citizens if
they entered the country before the age of 16 and meet other
criteria, I am vetoing that bill. Instead I am signing a bill
that requires law enforcement officials to verify that anyone
who does not look American is in the United States legally and
has the proper documents to prove legal status. It shall be a
criminal offense not to carry such documentation. Every
community is required by law to make life so miserable for every
illegal alien that they will immediately self deport. They will
not receive any federal aid to do so.”
The stack grows smaller.
Another swipe of the pen.
bargaining is hereby declared illegal
as the legislation I am now
signing removes the right for private-sector workers and federal
employees to form unions under federal law,” Romney says.
“Another campaign promise
kept, I’m signing the Paul
Ryan Medicaid, Medicare reform legislation.
Starting in the next decade, Medicare beneficiaries will receive
vouchers to purchase private health insurance instead of
receiving a guaranteed set of health benefits as they do today.
The federal government will pay each state only a fixed amount,
or a block grant. The federal government will no longer be
responsible for negotiating and procuring lowest cost specified
medical goods and services for Medicare beneficiaries. You will
be free to fend for yourselves in the free, unregulated market.”
Romney looks pained and tries
to look back at McConnell but his head won’t turn.
“I think if I were controlling
my own hand I’d have writer’s cramp by now. Hahahaha. Anything
else we need to do, Mitch? Ah, yes.
Voters’ rights. As of now it is
the law of the land that all voters must show a passport in
order to vote in any election.”
I think I hear Romney begin to
hum. The tune sounds familiar.
“One final order of business,
I have ordered troops to return to Iraq and Afghanistan, and we
should be bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities just about now.”
I recognize the tune just as
Romney begins to sing, “America, America, G-d shed his grace on
I wake up in a cold sweat and
when I come to my senses I realize it’s not yet November and
Romney is not President. Yet.
There is still time for the
rest of America to wake up, too.
[Each of the above
scenarios are based on statements made or supported by
Mitt Romney, or on legislation supported, put forth or
passed by Republican state or federal legislators. Given
Romney’s history his malleability is the stuff
nightmares are made of.]
Birthers, Racists, Sexists and
Homophobes: Toxic Endorsers of Mitt Romney
What's stunning about this year's
crop of endorsers is the torrent of venom, mendacity and
absurdity that spills from their mouths and pens.
March 18, 2012
A man, the
tells us, is known by the company he keeps. In a presidential
primary, the endorsement game is one of the great spectator
sports. Every four years comes the parade of politicians,
preachers and a smattering of politically inclined demi-gods of
popular culture stepping forward to endorse one or another of
the presidential candidates.
Some are positioning
themselves for a prime slot in what they hope will be a future
administration. Others are making a statement to the folks back
home about the authenticity of their ideological credentials. A
few have designs on the levers of creative destruction in their
own political party. And that's before we get to the washed-up
rock 'n' rollers and comedians who are clearly just looking for
a gig, or relevance, or both.
What's stunning about this
year's crop of endorsers of Republican presidential
candidates is the torrent of venom, mendacity and absurdity
that spills from their mouths and pens -- not to mention the
fact that most of these endorsements have been warmly
received, and none have been rejected. There's also a
peculiar dichotomy of styles represented: They either hail
from the priggish, uptight wing of the party that loathes
popular culture as coarse and sinful, or they represent that
coarse and sex-laden culture. The thing they have in common?
Hatred -- of somebody who's not like them.
The Obama campaign may have a
Bill Maher problem, but compared to the smorgasboard of
slander and contempt on display by the GOP's great wits,
Maher's garden-variety misogyny seems almost quaint. That
the corporate media have failed to note most of these quotes
-- or to challenge the candidates on accepting the support
of these luminaries -- speaks less to any willful complicity
than to the fact that "hatefully insane" has become the new
Sixteen years ago, Pat
Buchanan's presidential campaign had to let go of campaign
co-chair Larry Pratt, president of the Gun Owners of
America, just because Pratt once gave a little lecture to a
gathering of white supremacists. Today, Mitt Romney shows no
intention of rejecting the endorsement of a racist who said
that President Barack Obama should "suck on my machine gun."
The list below is hardly
definitive; one could surf the Web for days, racking up an
epic stack of crazy and worse from endorsers of one or
another of the Republican candidates, but at some point, one
just needs to get on with writing the dreaded listicle.
Presented below, in reverse order of their prospects
(according to delegate counts) for seeing their endorsed
candidate actually win the Republican presidential
nomination, are the endorsers who have uttered some of the
most jaw-dropping words I've stumbled upon.
author: Ann Coulter may have been a reluctant endorser of
Mitt Romney, but she endorsed him nonetheless. "You’ve got
to go with what you have," Coulter
told Sean Hannity.
As far as we know, Romney has said nothing to distance
himself from Coulter, who made a big splash at the
Conservative Political Action Conference in 2007 by calling
John Edwards, the former Democratic senator and vice
presidential candidate, "a
faggot." (As it turns out,
there were other pejoratives better suited to Edwards.)
Since making outrageously
nasty claims is basically what Coulter does for a living,
let's leave aside her recent disparagement of Sandra Fluke,
the Georgetown Law School student made famous by Rush
Limbaugh's three-day verbal assault on her. (Coulter's
biggest complaints against Fluke seem to be that she had
never heard of her before Rush's self-immolating invective,
and that she doesn't care for Fluke's haircut.) No, let's
examine a Coulter line she never expected to leave the room
in which she delivered it.
In 2007, I covered a
right-wing conference, for Church & State magazine,
at the Coral Ridge enclave of the late Rev. D. James
Kennedy. Coulter was a keynote speaker, but unlike the other
religious-right eminences who graced the pulpit in Kennedy's
church, she forbade any recording of her remarks.
I watched her describe,
to a church full of right-wing activists,
abortion-clinic doctors and healthcare personnel who
were murdered as either having been shot, "...or,
depending on your point of view, had a procedure
performed on them with a rifle."
That was before the
murder of Dr. George Tiller. But doctors David
had already been killed by right-wing assassins.
rapper/singer: Perhaps trying to pick up some street cred to
add to his known highway prowess (at least in the canines
carting department), Romney has not only accepted the
endorsement of Kid Rock; he's had the foul-mouthed,
misogynist rap-metal star play at his rallies. I haven't
seen the set lists, but I'm betting that his "American
Bad Ass" didn't make the
cut for the Mittfests. However, if the Kid would only rename
it "American Bad Ass the Beautiful," perhaps Mitt would sing
it for us:
I'm an... American Bad
Watch me kick
You can roll with rock
Or you can suck my dick
I'm a porno flick, I'm
like amazing grace
I'm gonna fuck some hoe's
after I rock this place
Super fly, livin double
Side car my glide
So Joe C can ride
Full sack to share
Bringin flash and glare
Got the long hair swingin
middle finger in the air
Snakeskin suits, '65
See me ride in sin
Hear the rebel yell
I won't live to tell
So if you do
Give the next generation
a big "Fuck you!"
Who knew I'd blow up like
Said fuck high school,
pissed on my diploma
Smell the aroma
Check my hits
I know it stinks in here
Cause I'm the shit, shit,
shit, shit, shit
rock 'n' roll one-hit wonder: The self-styled Motor City
Madman conferred his endorsement on the Mittster after what
he termed "a long heart&soul conversation," as announced on
his Twitter feed.
In the 1970s, Nugent was
known for his screaming hit, "Cat-Scratch Fever." Nowadays
he's known for misogynist, racist rants, which have done
little to deter high-powered Republicans from seeking his
foul-mouthed blessing. A longtime supporter of Texas Gov.
Rick Perry, Nugent made quite the impression at Perry's 2007
gubernatorial inaugural ball:
According to a
that appeared at the time in the Houston Chronicle:
Nugent appeared onstage
wearing a cut-off T-shirt emblazoned with the
sure-to-draw-headlines Confederate flag and shouting
some unflattering remarks about non-English speakers,
according to people who were in attendance. His props
were machine guns.
That same year, he suggested
appearance that he'd essentially like to see Barack Obama,
then the Democratic presidential candidate, dead (or gravely
wounded), and had some choice words for several Democratic
"I was in Chicago last
week, I said, 'Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one
of these, you punk!' Obama, he's a piece of sh*t and I
told him to suck on my machine gun! Let's hear it for
them. I was in New York and I said, 'Hey Hillary, you
might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you
worthless bitch.' And since I'm in California, how about
Barbara Boxer? She might want to suck on my machine gun!
Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these, you worthless
I haven't had the opportunity
to ask Romney how he feels about these remarks from a man
whose endorsement he apparently sought. One might imagine
that these are not the words that Mitt would have chosen.
But the endorsement, well, that's another story.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's
Washington correspondent. Follow her on Twitter:
Rachel Maddow opened
her Friday show by roundly lampooning Mitt Romney's attempt
to back away from his
that he is "not concerned about the very poor."
The GOP presidential
frontrunner stepped into a landmine earlier in the week when
he said those words to CNN's Soledad O'Brien, arguing that
poor people have a "safety net" and that he wants to focus
on the middle class.
On Thursday and
Friday, Romney told a
pair of interviewers
that he had misspoken and mangled the point he was trying to
make. O'Brien herself
about this line of defense, and Maddow was downright
"Misspeaking is a real
thing," she said, before playing a series of verbal gaffes
by everyone from news anchors to John McCain. Romney's
statement, she said, was not so much a misplaced set of
words as it was a real statement of beliefs that people took
"You can tell what's a
legitimate mistake and what is a slip of the tongue," she
said. Maddow also wondered what Romney meant to say, if he
had simply fumbled his words.
"I just bobbled it!" she
cried mockingly. "I meant to say 'sore people,' not 'poor
And here is an example how Mitt
Romney misspeaks every day. It is a curious habit of
exaggerating Urban Legends
and telling lies. I would
say white lies, but when a person knows its a lie and claims its the
truth in front of millions,
I do believe we are safe in saying
his misspoken claims are Bald Faced Lies. GO MITT ROMNEY!! GO
We are the only people on earth
that put our hands over our heart during the playing of the National
Anthem? Really? Yeah,
and Cats are the only animals that say woof woof when they want
food. And dogs are the only animals that say meow. Yeah
I get it it Mitt, if you say an outrageous enough lie to your
followers then they will believe every word. And you will get
at least 35% of the population to believe that you are a truthful
person. The only problem with that is that there are more than
35% of the population that vote. And more than 35% of the
population has the internet. You should have stuck with the
Mitt Romney came under
criticism Monday for recalling a seminal moment from his
childhood in Detroit that actually took place nine months
before he was born.
Mitch Potter of
the Toronto Star
on Monday questioned
a tale that the former Massachusetts governor recently told
to a Tea Party crowd of attending the Golden Jubilee. Romney
told the gathering in Milford, Mich., he was "probably 4 or
something" at the time of the jubilee, which attracted
750,000 people to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the
American automobile. There was just one problem.
"The Golden Jubilee
described so vividly by Romney was indeed an epic moment in
automotive lore," Potter writes. "The parade included one of
the last public appearances by an elderly Henry Ford. And it
took place June 1, 1946 -- fully nine months before Romney
Reached for comment, a
Romney aide disputed the notion that the GOP frontrunner had
fudged the facts in order to give his biography more
emotional pull for Michiganders, who vote in their primary
"Mitt doesn’t say he was
there," said the aide. "In fact, he says his memory was
foggy, he 'thinks' his dad had a job there and that he was
“probably 4 or something like that.” He was simply telling
the story about his dad."
The full quote does show
Romney acknowledging haziness about his recall, which he
chalks up, in a joking manner, to being too young to
"I think my dad had a job
like being the grand master or whatever of the 50th
celebration of the automobile in Detroit. They painted
Woodward Avenue with gold paint … My memory is a little
foggy here … So I was probably four or something like that,
and had the cars go down Woodward Avenue. I know they still
have the parade of cars every year," said Romney
The Romney campaign's purposeful use
of Quotes they know to be false is a Normal Technique of Lying
for Political Gain the Romney Campaign uses every day.
Contains excerpts from an article
by John Fea on patheos.com on February 8, 2012
Mitt Romney is sounding very
presidential of late. In fact, as I listened to his speech in
Las Vegas on Saturday night, I thought for the first time that
he might have a chance of beating Barack Obama. Romney's recent
rhetorical strategy (as opposed to his campaign ad strategy) has
been to target the president and ignore the other GOP
contenders. So far it seems to be working.
In the last couple of weeks,
Romney has been using a quote which he says is "reported" to
have been uttered by the eighteenth-century revolutionary Thomas
Paine. His punch line goes like this (italics mine): "In another
era of American crisis, Thomas Paine is reported to
have said, 'Lead, follow, or get out of the way.' Mr. President,
you were elected to lead, you chose to follow, and now it's time
for you to get out of the way!" This attack on Obama gets an
uproarious response from the Romney faithful.
There is one problem with
Romney's latest applause line: Thomas Paine never said "Lead,
follow, or get out of the way." (The line was probably uttered
by George Patton.) A representative from the Yale Book of
Quotations, published by Yale University Press, has said that
"the notion that Thomas Paine said this is extremely
ridiculous." Scholars have stated that this quote is not found
anywhere in Paine's writings.
If Romney likes Thomas Paine
so much, he could have chosen some quotes that were actually
uttered by this radical fomenter of revolution. For example,
Paine wrote in his most famous tract Common Sense that
"Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in
its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an
intolerable one." Ronald Reagan, who loved to quote Paine, was
fond of saying "we have it in our power to begin the world over
The Romney campaign knew in
advance that this was a bogus quote and used it anyway. Why else
would Romney have introduced the line he claimed to be from
Paine with the word "reported," as in "Thomas Paine is
reported to have said...."
history blogger J.L. Bell
is not letting the former Massachusetts governor get away with
it. His words are strong, but they are on the mark:
They [Romney's staff] knew that attribution
[to Paine] was dubious. They knew that the
Republican frontrunner was probably going to repeat a falsehood,
so they added some weasel words as protection. It's one thing to
repeat a lie you honestly believe; it's another thing to repeat
something that you suspect is a lie but want to exploit anyway.
When one of Bell's
commentators asked him to "leave contemporary politics" out of
his posts devoted to history, Bell fired back. "When
contemporary politicians exploit Revolutionary history," he
wrote, "that falls under this site's purview."
Bell is absolutely right. His
post about Romney's use of this supposed Paine quote, and his
response to his commentator who wanted him to keep politics out
of the discussion of history, remind us why we need historians
and affirms the vocation of those of us who study the past. It
is our job to expose people like Mitt Romney and, for that
matter, any other politician, regardless of political party, who
distorts the past for political gain.
But as Bell notes, there is a
larger issue here. The Romney campaign has been blatantly
dishonest in the use of this fabricated Paine quote. Have we now
come to the point where politicians can make things up for the
purpose of skewering their political opponents?
It is not uncommon for
politicians to get their historical facts wrong due to poor
research or get mixed up about how a particular historical event
might relate to the present. This happens all the time to
politicians in both parties. But the Romney camp knew that they
were wrong about this particular piece of history and still used
it to score political points. This is an issue of personal
Mitt Romney should stop using
this fake Thomas Paine quote.
After all, Mitt Romney is the same
multimillionaire who joked that he was “unemployed”
while he was “earning” more in one day than most Americans earn in a year
and paying a lower rate on those earnings than most Americans do.
This is the same man who bragged last month that
he liked to fire people
at a time when nearly 13 million people are out of work and who accepted the
endorsement this week of Donald Trump, who has made “You’re Fired!” his
This is the same man who in November claimed that
federal employees are making “a lot more money than we are.” What?! We? What
we? Please direct me to the federal employees with the $20 million
paychecks. In fact,
The Washington Post pointed out in November that federal employees on
average “are underpaid by 26.3 percent when compared with similar nonfederal
jobs, a ‘pay gap’ that increased by about 2 percentage points over the last
year while federal salary rates were frozen.”
“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a
safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about
the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart
of America — the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
Romney went on to say that his campaign was
focused on “middle-income Americans” and that “we have a very ample safety
net” for the poor.
tried to clarify, saying that his comments needed context. Then he said
that the comments were a “misstatement” and that he had “misspoke.” Yeah,
Where to begin?
a report from
the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
last month pointed out that Romney’s budget proposals would take a chainsaw
to that safety net. The report points out that
cuts proposed by Romney would be even more draconian than a plan from
Representative Paul Ryan: “Governor Romney’s budget proposals would require
far deeper cuts in nondefense programs than the House-passed budget
resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $94 billion to
$219 billion deeper in 2016 and $303 billion to $819 billion deeper in
What does this mean for specific programs?
Let’s take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, since “food
stamps” have been such a talking point in the Republican debates. The report
says the Romney plan “would throw 10
million low-income people off the benefit rolls, cut benefits by thousands
of dollars a year, or some combination of the two. These cuts would
primarily affect very-low-income families with children, seniors and people
Does that sound like a man trying to “fix” our
social safety nets? Absolutely not. Romney is so far up the beanstalk that
he can no longer see the ground.
Then let’s take the fact that
a report last
month by the Tax Policy Center found that
his tax plan would increase after-tax income
for millionaires by 14.5 percent while increasing the after-tax income of
those making less than $20,000 by less than 1 percent and of those making
between $30,000 and $40,000 by less than 3 percent.
For a man who’s not worried about the rich, he
sure seems to want them to rake in more cash.
This has nothing to do with context. This has
everything to do with a caviar candidate’s inability to relate to a
Then there is the “ample safety net” nonsense. No
one who has ever been on the low end of the income spectrum believes this,
not even Republicans. According to
a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October, even most Republicans
and Republican-leaning independents who make less than $30,000 a year, which
accounts for about a quarter of all Republicans, say that the government
doesn’t do enough to help the poor. Only a man who has never felt the sting
of poverty or seen its ravages would say such a thing.
But perhaps the most pernicious part of his
statement was the underestimating of the rich and poor and the elasticized
expansion of the term “middle income” or middle class. Romney suggests that
95 percent of Americans are in this group. Not true.
And that’s the income poor. It doesn’t even count
the “asset poor.”
report issued this week by the Corporation for Enterprise Development
found that 27 percent of U.S. households live
in “asset poverty.” According to the report,
“These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic
expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income)
for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income.”
On the other hand, the definition of
“rich” is more nebulous. However, according to a December Gallup report,
Americans set the rich threshold at $150,000 in annual income. And according
to the U.S. Census Bureau 8.4 percent of households had an income of
$150,000 or more
So at the very least, nearly a fourth of all
Americans are either poor or rich.
That would leave about three-fourths somewhere in
the middle, but not all middle class. Tricking the poor to believe they’re
in it, and allowing the wealthy to hide in it, is one of the great modern
political deceptions and how we’ve arrived at our current predicament.
According to a New York Times/CBS News
poll conducted last month, nearly a
fifth of families making less than $15,000 said that they were middle class
and nearly two-fifths of those making more than $100,000 said that they were
Romney is not only cold and clumsy, he’s
disastrously out of touch, and when talking about real people, out of sorts.
If only he had a heart, and if only that heart was connected to his brain.
an article by David Wren in the Myrtle Beach Sun News 1/12/2012
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. —
Boston-based Bain Capital LLC more than doubled its money on
GS Industries Inc. — the former parent company of Georgetown
Steel — under Mitt Romney's leadership in the 1990s, even as
the steel manufacturer went on to cut more than 1,750 jobs,
shuttered a division that had been around for 100 years and
eventually sank into bankruptcy.
Bain Capital spent $24.5
million to acquire GS Industries in 1993, according to an
investment prospectus for the company that was obtained by
the Los Angeles Times and reviewed by McClatchy Newspapers.
By the end of that decade, Bain Capital estimated its
partners had made $58.4 million off its investment in GS
Industries, according to the prospectus.
Bain Capital's partners
also earned multimillion-dollar dividends from GS Industries
and annual management fees of about $900,000. But by the
time GS Industries filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001,
it owed $553.9 million in debts against assets valued at
Romney - who founded Bain
Capital, one of the earliest leveraged-buyout firms, in 1984
- was in charge of the firm for most of the time it owned GS
Industries. Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, two years
before the bankruptcy, to run the organizing committee for
the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"We were doing well and
then Bain Capital bought us and they took everything they
could out of the company without making the investments we
needed to stay competitive," said James Sanderson, who has
been with the mill since 1974 and served as its union
president since 1988. "They ran the company into
bankruptcy." management-led buyout of Armco Worldwide Grinding System of
Kansas City, Mo., in 1993. The Armco plant was renamed GS
Technologies, which merged with Georgetown Industries in
1995 to become GS Industries Inc. At the time, the combined
entities - headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. - had $1 billion
in revenue and employed 3,800 people worldwide as the
largest producer of carbon wire rods in North America.
Sanderson said Bain
Capital replaced longtime managers who had built Georgetown
Steel with bean counters looking for ways to cut costs. They
demanded increasing financial performance with little idea
of how the daily operations were run, he said.
"They were investors. They
weren't steel mill operators," he said.
Romney has touted his
business acumen as an asset in his bid for the Republican
Party nomination for president. But he has come under fire
from opponents - including other Republican candidates, such
as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who called Romney a "vulture
capitalist" - who say Bain Capital preyed on struggling
companies and stripped them financially before selling them
off or abandoning them in bankruptcy court.
Bain Capital propped up
short-term earnings, Romney opponents say, so the venture
capital firm could borrow money that went toward investors'
dividends - enriching Bain Capital but leaving the companies
with unsustainable debt.
Romney has fought back,
saying his goal at Bain Capital always was to make companies
successful over the long term, even if that meant painful
cuts along the way. Romney says he was successful more often
than not, but that in a free enterprise system, some
businesses will not be strong enough to survive.
officials in South Carolina could not be reached for
comment, but he discussed Bain's investment in GS industries
during a Fox News interview last month.
"The steel industry got in
trouble in this country," Romney said. "I think 40 mills
went bankrupt the same time (GS Industries) did, in part
because of - well, in this case, dumping from places like
China into this country. I understand the impact of what
happens globally in trade. And businesses, you know, lose
and go out of business, and in some cases, lose jobs. It
breaks your heart when that happens."
Jim Jerow, chairman of the
Georgetown County Republican Party, said he thinks the
attacks on Romney have been unfair.
"Any business, if they are
going to remain competitive, they have to do things
sometimes that people don't like, such as reducing staff and
cutting costs," Jerow said, adding that Georgetown Steel's
biggest problem before its bankruptcy was competition from
foreign steel makers who dumped cheap products on the
"You don't hear any of his
critics talk about that," Jerow said. "I guess my question
for them would be: What would you have done at the time?"
Contacted Friday, his
campaign emailed this response: “Bain Capital invested in
many businesses; while not every business was successful,
the firm had an excellent overall track record and created
jobs with well-known companies like Staples, Dominos, and
Sports Authority. These experiences give Mr. Romney the
unique skills and capabilities to do what President Obama
has failed to do: focus on job creation and turn around our
nation's faltering economy.”
In addition to GS
Industries, Bain Capital paid $10 million to buy another
South Carolina company - Holson Burnes Group, a photo-album
maker based in Gaffney. The prospectus shows Bain Capital's
partners made more than twice their investment - earning
$22.6 million, according to the prospectus - between 1986
and 1992, when Holson Burnes Group went out of business and
150 people lost their jobs.
In GS Industries' case,
Bain nearly destroyed a Georgetown Steel plant that had
provided hundreds of well-paying jobs to Georgetown County
residents since the late 1960s, according to Sanderson, who
has remained president of the local United Steelworkers
union No. 7898 through a pair of bankruptcies, a mill
shutdown and its rebirth under Mittal Steel in 2005.
Less than a year after
taking a controlling interest in the Georgetown plant, Bain
Capital cut the employees' profit-sharing plan twice -
lowering the plan's hourly rate from $5.60 an hour to $1.25
per hour. Most of the workers didn't learn about the cuts
until they received their paychecks. The profit-sharing
checks eventually disappeared altogether.
Sanderson, in a September
2000 report in McClatchy Newspapers, called Bain Capital
anti-labor and said "they've forced a labor dispute at every
location" during contract negotiations.
Sanderson agrees that
China's cheap steel imports on the American marketplace hurt
the Georgetown mill's production and profitability.
"But if (Bain Capital) had
only invested in the mill instead of taking everything from
it, we would have been able to sustain that (dumping) like
we had in the past," he said.
John Ethridge, a retired
Georgetown Steel worker, said Bain Capital "treated us like
"They brought a bunch of
people in here who thought they knew how to do our job, but
they had no idea what they were doing," Ethridge said,
adding that needed equipment and plant upgrades were often
delayed or ignored.
Ethridge, who worked at
the Georgetown mill for 35 years, said Bain Capital was more
interested in how much money it could take from the plant
rather than investing anything into it.
By the time GS Industries
filed for bankruptcy protection, the number of employees
worldwide had been cut by more than half.
The Kansas City, Mo.,
plant felt the brunt of Bain Capital's cuts, according to
news reports, with one state legislator accusing the venture
capital firm of union-busting during a 1997 strike - the
company's first in nearly 40 years - that lasted 10 weeks. A
key sticking point in that strike was job security and
pension benefits for workers who suspected that Bain Capital
was trying to cut operating costs for a quick sale.
As foreign competition
increased and steel prices continued to fall, GS Industries
applied for a federal loan in 1999 to help keep the company
afloat. But in 2001, before the loan could be used, GS
Industries filed for bankruptcy protection, closing down the
Kansas City plant that had its origins in the late 1800s.
"It makes me sick,"
retired Kansas City steelworker Steve Morrow told the Los
Angeles Times last month. Morrow told the newspaper that top
managers continued to receive bonuses from Bain Capital even
as bankruptcy neared, but not other employees.
The Georgetown Steel plant
was purchased out of bankruptcy for $53 million by Midcoast
Industries in 2002, but the mill continued to struggle and
filed for bankruptcy protection again in 2003. The steel
mill closed with that bankruptcy, putting its more than 450
employees out of work. The former International Steel Group
purchased the remains of Georgetown Steel the following year
for $18 million and reopened the mill. Then, in 2005, Mittal
Steel - now ArcelorMittal - bought ISG, making Georgetown a
part of its operations. The Georgetown mill now employs
about 300 people.
Sanderson called the
mill's tenure under Bain Capital "bad years ... very bad
years" and Ethridge said morale was poor when Romney's firm
was calling the shots.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley -
who endorsed Romney in December - said during a rally in
Columbia last week that criticism of Romney's business
tactics is unfair and she called on his Republican opponents
to stop the attacks.
"I am proud of all our
Republican candidates," Haley said. "But we have a real
problem when we have Republicans talking like dang Democrats
against the free market. (Romney) fixed broken businesses.
We've got a broken Washington that needs to be fixed."
(The Los Angeles Times,
the Kansas City Star and the State in Columbia, S.C.,
contributed to this report.)
Newt Gingrich's campaign released a
attacking Mitt Romney Friday,
the former Massachusetts governor for his efforts to
"mislead, distort and deceive" on the campaign trail.
Gingrich's team used several of
Romney's comments from Thursday night's
Republican presidential debate
as fodder for the ad, which claims Romney has told several
fibs to win over voters.
The video shoots down Romney's
claim that he has always voted Republican with reference to
the 1992 Massachusetts primary, when Romney voted for a
"liberal Democrat" instead of Pat Buchanan or George H.W.
Bush. The spot also fact-checks Romney's claim that his
investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were part of a
"If we can't trust what Mitt Romney
says about his own record, how can we trust him on
anything?" the video says.
Romney's campaign released a
statement condemning the ad, saying "Gingrich's desperate
smears have already been called 'inflammatory' by Marco
Rubio and 'ridiculous' by Jeb Bush."
"It is laughable to see lectures on
honesty coming from a paid influence peddler who suffered an
unprecedented ethics reprimand, was forced to pay a $300,000
penalty, and resigned in disgrace at the hands of his own
party," the statement said. "Speaker Gingrich is desperate
to distract from his record of failed and unreliable
leadership in an attempt to try and prop up his sinking
Another Republican featured in the
ad is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is shown
saying if a man is "dishonest to get a job, he'll be
dishonest on the job." Huckabee released the following
statement on his appearance in the spot:
Any use of an out of context quote
from the Republican Presidential primary 4 years ago in
a political ad to advocate for the election or defeat of
another candidate is not authorized, approved, or known
in advance by me. I have made it clear that I have not
and do not anticipate making an endorsement in the GOP
primary, but will support the nominee. My hope is to
defeat Barack Obama and win majorities in both the House
and Senate, not to attack any of the Presidential
candidates who might be our nominee.
HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal
that the video lacks the "I approve this message" disclosure
that is required by federal law for television advertising
paid for by federal campaigns, meaning it is unlikely to
appear anywhere but the web:
So at very least, the new attack
ad posted to YouTube cannot appear in its current form
as a paid advertisement, and the relatively small amount
spent by the Gingrich campaign on broadcast advertising
suggests that few Floridians would see it, even if
At Bain Capital, Romney used the tax code to
redistribute wealth from taxpayers to his investors and partners.
January 18, 2012 |
The lion's share of the wealth Mitt Romney
accumulated during his years at Bain Capital was extracted not only
by laying off workers and raiding their pensions, but by using what
conservatives call “big government” to redistribute wealth from
taxpayers to Bain's investors and partners.
Bain Capital was not in the business of
creating jobs, or even saving companies over the long-term. Its
model had a relatively low rate of success; a study by Deutche Bank
found that 33
out of 68 major deals cut on Romney's watch lost money for the
firm's investors. Its richest deals made up for the flops, however,
and Bain's partners were guaranteed hefty fees regardless of how the
businesses they “restructured” ultimately performed.
Romney and his partners then
exploited a loophole in the tax code
that allowed them to pay just 15 percent of their growing fortunes
in taxes – a rate less than what many of their companies' employees
forked over to Uncle Sam.
“By and large, [government] gets in the way
of creating jobs," Romney said during a GOP debate last year. But,
Los Angeles Times
noted, “during his business career Romney made avid use of
public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives
consider to be 'corporate welfare.'"
On the campaign trail, Romney often touts a
successful investment in an Indiana steel company called Steel
Dynamics, but he doesn't mention that the firm had taken advantage
of “generous tax breaks and other subsidies provided by the state of
Indiana and the residents of DeKalb County, where the company's
first mill was built.”
But that's a small part of the public
largesse Bain enjoyed. Most of the big money the firm brought in
during those years was extracted through “leveraged buy-outs,” a
reality that Romney doesn't like to talk about on the campaign
trail. Instead, he wants to talk about Staples, which was one of a
small handful of Bain's venture capital deals. The 89,000 people
employed at the office supply chain go a long way toward the
campaign's dubious and unsourced claim that Bain “created 100,000
jobs” under Romney's tutelage. But venture capital represented a
small share of Romney's deals, and it's important to understand the
distinction between venture capital and leveraged buy-outs.
You won't hear much criticism of venture
capital deals like Bain's investment in Staples. It's a very basic
free-market transaction – investors put money into a company at its
early stages in exchange for a share of the company. If the start-up
doesn't pan out, the investors lose their stake; if it grows and
matures, they make healthy profit, usually when the company goes
public or is sold off. In venture capital deals, investors only make
a profit when the company that receives their cash does well.
Leveraged buy-outs are a different creature
entirely. Leveraged buy-out firms became so closely associated with
the most rapacious and unsustainable form of capitalism in the
1980s, that the entire industry rebranded itself as “private equity”
to escape the stigma.
Leveraged buy-out artists also deal with
risky companies – usually those struggling to stay afloat – but they
don't actually take on much risk themselves as they structure the
deals so they profit whether the target company becomes healthy and
grows or collapses, often under the weight of debt piled onto it by
the private equity firm itself.
Here's how the deal works. The leveraged
buy-out firm will put down a fraction of the cost of buying an
ailing company. The balance of the transaction is borrowed, but the
debt goes onto the books of the target company, not the private
equity firm – the struggling company basically finances the lion's
share of its own sale.
And here's the key point: the target
company's debt payments increase significantly, and those debt
payments are then written off, reducing its tax burden
significantly. This subsidy increases short-term revenues – at the
expense of long-term debt – and that, in turn, is paid out in
dividends to Bain's investors and a fat stream of management fees
that Romney and his partners skimmed off the top.
(The industry-standard structure of these
deals is known as “2 and 20.” Management gets 2 percent of the
capital that they invest as a fee, and 20 percent of the profits
that the fund realizes. That 2 percent represents between 2-4 times
what the average management fees for a mutual fund usually run, and
is collected regardless of how the fund does.)
Josh Kosman, author of The Buyout of
America, How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the
told Mike Konczai
that a typical leveraged buy-out deal decreases a target-company's
tax burden by half. A recent study by researchers at the University
of Chicago estimated that the average tax benefit of these
companies' increased debt-loads in 1980s equalled “10 to 20 percent
of ﬁrm value,” which, as Konczai noted, “is value that comes from
taxpayers to private equity as a result of the tax code.”
This is important to understand as it lays
bare the defenses Romney's spinmeisters have employed to fend off
criticism of his past as what Rick Perry called a “vulture
capitalist,” and Newt Gingrich described as a business based on
"figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company." (Let's pause
here to savor the hypocrisy: a Texas teachers pension fund, one of
the largest in the state, is an investor in Bain, and all of its
trustees are Perry appointees, and Gingrich himself sat on a board
of Forstmann Little. A major competitor of Bain Capital.)
First, those criticizing what private
equity funds like Bain do are not assaulting the “free enterprise”
system. To the contrary, they are calling out a gamed tax system
which guaranteed that Romney and his partners would make healthy
profits, regardless of whether the companies they acquired went
belly-up. Romney claims that he took risks and shouldn't be
criticized for reaping the rewards, but the game Bain played was in
fact antithetical to the free-market model.
Second, one need not be “envious” of
Romney's fortune to be bitter about the means by which it was
accrued. Contrary to the line Romney and his flacks have adopted,
critics are not begrudging him riches won by hard work and prudent
investment. Bain is deserving of our opprobrium for its rent-seeking
at the expense of workers at the companies it bought out and through
a series of tax subsidies, and Romney's hypocrisy in suggesting that
he was simply a free marketeer must be called out.
Romney talks a lot about “creative
destruction” – about how he made the hard decisions that would allow
troubled, inefficient firms to grow. But Bain's interest was to its
investors, and it flipped companies quickly, reaping huge profits
and often leaving them saddled with debt – often high-interest debt
financed with “junk bonds” – that they struggled to service.
That short-term focus didn't necessarily
serve its acquisitions well. Another steel mill, one Romney doesn't
discuss on the campaign trail, is South Carolina-based GS
Industries. Bain acquired the company for $24.5 million in 1993, and
by the end of the decade Bain estimated that its partners had made
$58.4 million on the deal, including “multimillion-dollar dividends”
and “annual management fees of about $900,000,” according to the
Bain left the company saddled with over a half-billion in debt, and
it filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
"We were doing well and then Bain Capital
bought us and they took everything they could out of the company
without making the investments we needed to stay competitive," James
Sanderson, who had worked at the mill since 1974 told the Herald.
"They ran the company into bankruptcy."
Sanderson said the fund “replaced longtime
managers who had built Georgetown Steel with bean counters looking
for ways to cut costs.”
Along the way, 1,750 workers lost their
jobs. According to the Herald, “less than a year after
taking a controlling interest in the Georgetown plant, Bain Capital
cut the employees’ profit-sharing plan twice -- lowering the plan’s
hourly rate from $5.60 an hour to $1.25 per hour.” The
profit-sharing plan was soon phased out altogether.
Layoffs and benefit cuts led workers at the
company's Kansas City, Missouri plant to strike for the first time
in four decades. A state legislator accused Bain of union-busting
during the 10-week dispute. Sanderson told McClatchy in
2000 that Bain "forced a labor dispute at every location."
This is the model of “free-enterprise” that
Mitt Romney brags about, and on which he built an estimated $200
million fortune. It's the model on which he continues to make
millions of dollars today. According to the
New York Times,
“the final deal of his private equity career” was a
“retirement agreement with his former partners
that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since.”
It's vulture capitalism – one of the many
ways in which
our bloated financial sector
extracts wealth from the productive economy. And we can thank a
couple of craven Republican candidates for the fact that we're
talking about it.
Under Romney's Leadership Bain often maximized profits
by firing workers.
excerpts from the Los Angeles Times written by Tom Hamburger,
Melanie Mason and Matea Gold, of the Washington Bureau
on December 3, 2011
Romney resigned from
Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Olympics in
Salt Lake City. Shortly thereafter, potential investors received a prospectus touting
the extraordinary profits earned by the private equity firm that
Romney controlled for 15 years.
During that time, Boston-based Bain acquired more than 115
companies. Their estimated annual
returns were more than five times that of the Dow
Jones Industrial Average in
the same period.
Now a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination,
Romney says his Bain experience shows he knows how to create jobs.
He often cites Bain's investment in a little-known office supply
store called Staples, which now employs more than 90,000 worldwide.
BUT a closer examination of the prospectus paints
a different picture of Bain's operation. Under Romney's leadership,
Bain became one of the nation's top leveraged-buyout firms, helping
lead a trend in which companies were acquired using debt often
pledged against their own assets or earnings.
Bain expanded many of the companies it acquired. But like other
leveraged-buyout firms, Romney and his team also
by firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping
companies quickly for large profits. Sometimes Bain investors gained
even when companies slid into bankruptcy which happened frequently!
Romney himself became wealthy at Bain. He is now worth between $190
million and $250 million, muchof
it derived from his time running the investment firm, his campaign
staffers have said.
Bain managers said their mission was clear. "I never thought of what
I do for a living as job creation," said Marc B. Walpow, a former
managing partner at Bain who worked closely with Romney for nine
years before forming his own firm. "The primary goal of private
equity is to create wealth for your investors."
Bain's top 10 dollar investments under Romney — averaging $53
million — spanned a number of sectors, including healthcare,
entertainment and manufacturing. The firm's largest investment was
its 1999 buyout of Domino's Pizza, into which Bain put $188.8
million, eventually reaping a fivefold return.
Four of the 10 companies Bain acquired declared bankruptcy within a
few years, shedding thousands of jobs. The prospectus shows that
in eight of the 10 deals, including three of the four that ended in
Romney launched Bain Capital in 1984 after seven years at Bain and
Co., a highly regarded consulting firm that he joined two years
after finishing Harvard Business School. The firm's founder, Bill
Bain, tapped Romney to establish Bain Capital as a separate company
that would draw from Bain & Co.'s consulting acumen to buy promising
companies and invest in new ones.
According to the prospectus, prepared in late 2000 by a
division of Deutsche Bank Securities, investors could
participate in Bain's funds with a minimum investment of $1
million. Bain Capital's portfolio started with a
preponderance of simple investments like Staples, but
shifted heavily toward more complex leveraged buyouts and
within several years, according to former Bain partners.
Leveraged buyouts allow investors to purchase businesses
with the acquisition funded sometimes by significant amounts
of debt. To critics, these leveraged deals can make acquired
companies more vulnerable to economic downturns, leading to
a greater likelihood of bankruptcy and job cuts.
At the same
time, the deals sometimes introduce discipline to firms and
even whole industries that need it.
Either way, Bain investors typically profited.
That was true in the case of GS Industries, the 10th-biggest
Bain investment in the Romney years. Bain formed GSI in the
early 1990s by spending $24 million to acquire and merge
steel companies with plants in Missouri, South Carolina and
Company managers cut jobs and benefits almost immediately.
Meanwhile, Bain and other investors received management fees
from GSI and a $65-million dividend in the first years after
the acquisition, according to interviews with company
In 1999, as economic challenges mounted, GSI sought a
federal loan guarantee intended to help steel companies
compete internationally. The loan deal was approved, but in
2001, before it could be used, the company went bankrupt,
two years after Romney left Bain.
More than 700 workers were fired, losing not only their jobs
but health insurance, severance and a chunk of their pension
benefits. GSI retirees also lost their health insurance and
other benefits. Bain partners received about $50 million on
their initial investment, a 100% gain.
"It makes me sick," said Steve Morrow, a retired GSI
steelworker, recalling what happened to his fellow workers
after the Kansas City shutdown. Some top managers received
bonuses from Bain, he said. "But the salaried and hourly
people ended up with the shaft."
Union officials say they tried to work with GSI management
and Bain to assure workers and retirees that they would have
some benefits even if the heavily indebted company went
under. But they said their appeals fell on deaf ears during
and after the time Romney was running the firm.
"Bain was demanding certain financial performance with no
understanding of what the problems were on the ground," said
David Foster, a former steelworkers union official who
negotiated labor contracts with GSI management from 1994
until the bankruptcy. He said Bain "bled the company,"
withdrawing cash for dividends and management fees even as
circumstances in the steel industry deteriorated.
"If I were looking for effective management of a project, a
company or a country, this is exactly the kind of management
I would not want to have," Foster said of Bain. "Bain
partners think the profits they made are a sign of their
brilliance. It's not brilliance. It's lurking around the
corner and mugging somebody."
A former chief executive of GSI, Roger Regelbrugge, said he
admired Bain overall and had high regard for Romney. But he
criticized Bain for being too slow to change management
priorities and personnel, and he recalled complaining that
Bain was extracting annual management fees as the company
faltered. About $900,000 in annual fees were paid to Bain
through 1999, Romney's last year at Bain Capital, according
to Regelbrugge and filings to the Securities and Exchange
Romney declined to comment for this story, but in public
forums he has brushed aside criticism of Bain's deals,
noting that there were winners and losers in the investment
"We didn't take things apart and cut them off and sell them
off," Romney said in a GOP debate
this fall. "We, instead, helped start businesses.... Sometimes we
acquired businesses and tried to turn them around, typically effectively."
But in 2007, during his first run for the presidency, he
said he regretted extracting payments from companies that
were failing: "It is one thing that if I had a chance to go
back I would be more sensitive to," he told the New York
That wasn't the case for a medical technology company in
California. Bain and affiliated investors purchased the
lagging medical diagnostics unit of Baxter International for
$448 million in 1994, putting up $26.7 million. It named the
new company Dade International.
Under Bain's direction, Dade acquired a chemicals division
of DuPont in 1996 and the diagnostics company Behring in
1997. Dade borrowed big again in 1999, this time to
repurchase stock from original investors, Bain and Goldman
Sachs, for $365 million, more than four times their
original investment, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The growing debt, which hit $1.5 billion, along with
declining cash flow and high interest rates, led the company
to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002 — three years
after Romney left Bain. It emerged from bankruptcy after two
months and continued to operate. Between 1996 and 2002, the
company shed more than 1,700 jobs, according to filings with
"When I listen to Mitt Romney these days, he talks about
creating jobs. My experience at Dade during those Bain
Capital years was that it was strictly an investment, not to
create jobs," said Michael Rumbin, a vice president of
technology management at Dade during the Bain years whose
position was eliminated in 2000.
"No one came from Bain and said, 'How can we hire more
people?' " Rumbin said. "It was, 'How do we turn our
investment around and make a lot of money?' Which they did."
So TRUE or FALSE that he was responsible
for creating jobs? Mostly FALSE.
Contains excerpts from an article by Steve
Benen from the Washington Monthly on 12/17/2011
Mitt Romney appeared on Fox News last
night and boasted, "Our campaign hasn't put up negative ads at this stage."
That's not true. I've seen the ads.
Likewise, Romney said on Thursday night,
"This is a president who fundamentally believes that the next century is the
post-American century. Perhaps it will be the Chinese century. He is wrong."
I know that's not true, either. Kevin Drum noted in response, "Seriously,
where does he get this stuff? It's just made up out of thin air. Obama's
never said this or anything even close to it." There is a story
With these routine falsehoods in mind, I
noticed Daniel Larison had a piece the other day with a headline that read,
"Why Does Romney Lie?" The amusing thing about this, at least in a sardonic
sort of way, is that I wondered to myself what prompted the headline and
about a half-dozen examples from the last week or so quickly came to mind.
(In this instance, it was an Andrew Sullivan item about Romney telling
easily-disproven claims about his years in France as a Mormon missionary.)
Regardless, Larison posits a theory.
Why does Romney ever tell bald-faced lies?
After all, this is a man who has made the "non-existent tour" the rhetorical
centerpiece of his presidential campaign. For some reason, he even managed
to say something untrue about his real first name during the national
security debate last month.
It's tempting to say that he has
reinvented himself so thoroughly that he can no longer remember what is true
and what isn't, and he has absorbed and appropriated so many new positions
over the years that it all gets jumbled together and re-mixed according to
whatever the political need of the moment happens to be. It's easy to lose
track after the fourth or fifth incarnation. More likely, he is so
contemptuous of the people he tells these lies to that he never thinks he
will be found out.
I suspect Larison and I agree on almost
nothing when it comes to public policy or visions of government, but on the
issue of Romney's discomforting hostility for the truth, we're on the same
page. I've found myself repeatedly wondering in recent months why Romney
lies as often, and as carelessly, as he does, without the slightest regard
for how easy it is to prove what his claims aren't true.
Indeed, as we talked about the other day,
Romney and his team have demonstrated a willingness to lie -- blatantly and
shamelessly -- with discomforting ease. We've seen this in offensive
campaign ads, routine talking points, policy arguments, and even personal
anecdotes and characteristics.
And when pressed, Romney and his aides
have freely admitted, more than once, that niceties such as facts, evidence,
and reason just aren't that important to them. Dishonest "propaganda" should
simply be excepted and accepted, they've said.
I've been watching national campaigns for
quite a while, and I can't think of any comparable major-party campaigns
acting this way, especially this far from the election.
Given all of this, I thought I'd offer
Larison's question as a discussion topic: Why does Romney tell "bald-faced
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
said during a stop in South Carolina on Thursday that he
believes "any time a job is lost it's a tragedy."
reports that the presidential candidate told reporters, "For the
family, for the individual that loses a job, it's devastating."
The remarks from Romney come on the heels of his
win in New Hampshire's primary election and as he faces attacks
from rival contenders like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and
Texas Gov. Rick Perry on the key economic issue. The AP
Trying to tap into populist sentiment, Gingrich and Perry are
accusing Romney of being a fat-cat venture capitalist during his
days running the private equity firm Bain Capital, laying off
workers as he restructured companies and filled his own pockets.
A group backing Gingrich is airing TV ads in South Carolina
showing distraught people who say they lost their jobs to Bain's
restructuring practices while Romney was at the helm.
The matter of how many jobs were created or lost during Romney's
tenure at Bain was
raised during one of last weekend's Republican presidential
debates. The AP
reported after the event:
After months of getting a pass on the subject from his rivals,
Mitt Romney was challenged in the Republican presidential debate
Saturday night on his frequent claims that he created great
numbers of jobs in the private sector. Newt Gingrich, for one,
said Romney's record as a venture capitalist was one of flipping
companies, taking out all the money and "leaving behind the
The bottom line remains unknown about how many jobs were
gained or lost from Romney's work at the Bain Capital private
equity company. But this much is clear: His accounting behind
the assertion that he created more than 100,000 jobs at
companies he helped start up or turn around has been flawed.
On Thursday, Romney also insisted he is "pro-life" and said he's
raising the issue on the campaign trail to counter his rivals'
"I understand that there are some attack ads coming my way that
question" his commitment to life, Romney told reporters gathered at
a motorcycle dealership in Greer, S.C. "Obviously it's important for
me to remind people that I'm pro-life."
Gingrich's campaign is running ads in South Carolina attacking
Romney for changing his position on abortion. It's part of an
onslaught of negative ads Romney is facing in the first-in-the-South
primary, some from his rivals and some from their wealthy SuperPAC
Romney came to South Carolina Wednesday as the unmistakable
front-runner in the GOP presidential sweepstakes. But many of the
state's voters are conservative Christians and tea party supporters,
and Romney struggled here four years ago. He came in fourth.
Romney said Thursday the environment has changed enough that he
could win here.
"Four years ago, we were really focused on Iraq and what was
happening there and the surge. And that was an area that really was
in John McCain's wheelhouse," Romney said. "Now the economy is the
issue people are most concerned about. That's in my wheelhouse."
"This is a time when people care about the economy and the scale
of government. It's the message of the tea party, it's the message
of the Republican Party," he said.
Romney was leaving South Carolina Thursday to hold a midday rally
in West Palm Beach, Fla., where absentee voters are already mailing
in ballots. The primary is Jan. 31.
"He went to the United Nations and
criticized Israel for building settlements," Romney went on. "He had
nothing to say about Hamas' 20,000 rockets into Israel. We will
stand with our friends."
But when it comes to diplomatic
relations, Romney may have already picked a fight with another U.S.
ally -- this one just next door.
In a campaign white paper on U.S.
global leadership released last fall, Romney wrote:
We must also contend with failed
or failing states, like Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan, and to an alarming degree, our southern neighbor
Mexico. These are states with weak governance that are wracked
by poverty, disease, internal strife, refugees, drugs, and
organized crime. They are or can become safe-havens for
terrorists, pirates, and other kinds of criminal networks. Their
problems regularly spill across borders turning internal
problems into regional and even global ones.
Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan ...
It's not the first time the
term "failed state" has been used to describe America's southern
neighbor in U.S. policy circles. Toward the end of the Bush
several leaked government reports
painted a dire picture of a Mexican federal government deeply
incapable of handling the criminal and drug enterprises that
continue spilling into the United States.
Experts on Mexico's government,
however, say such rhetoric has been overblown.
"Not a failed state," said George
Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William and
Mary, and author of "Mexico: Narco Violence and a Failed State?"
"Strong institutions such as the
Church, the business sector, the banking system, the armed forces,
the political parties, contiguity to the U.S., and a sense of
national cohesion (missing in much of the Mideast) militate against
Mexico's become a failed state," Grayson said in an email. "There
are some individual states such as Guerrero and Oaxaca that might be
considered failures, but not the country as a whole."
Indeed, not long after the
Bush administration criticisms of Mexico leaked, officials there
responded with deep resentment. When the Obama administration took
over, they were
compelled to attempt serious damage control,
quickly sending Hillary Clinton to Mexico City. A few weeks later,
Obama himself visited.
That didn't inoculate the
Obama administration against further diplomatic flaps, though. The
president was later
forced to recall his ambassador
to Mexico City, after frank discussion the government's drug-war
floundering surfaced in the WikiLeaks cables. (The ambassador,
Carlos Pascual, was
also reportedly dating the daughter
of an opposition politician at the time.)
"Mr. Romney probably needs a bit
more exposure to actual failed states (like Somalia, Chad, and
Sudan) before making such an assertion about Mexico," David Shirk, a
political science professor and expert in U.S.-Mexican relations at
the University of San Diego, wrote in an email.
"No one who has ever been to a
failed state believes that Mexico fits into this category," Shirk
said, though he said some "isolated 'captured spaces'" in the
country may be ungoverned.
Added Shirk: "It seems like Romney
is trying to take a tough stance on Mexico partly as a means to
distinguish himself from candidates like Rick Perry and Newt
A Romney spokesman did not respond
to a request for comment.
If Romney keeps his head down, the
flap is likely to blow over, Grayson said, given his relatively good
"Truth be told, the Mexicans are
fixated on their July 1, 2012 presidential election," he said, "and
do not give a tired rat's derriere about what Romney calls their
Wouldn't it be great if a
Republican presidential candidate could just buy the support of just
about every major conservative talk show host in America?
Oh Wait...Mitt Romney already has!
Clear Channel owns more radio stations (850)
than anyone else in the United States. They also own Premiere Radio
Networks, the company that syndicates the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh,
Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, among others. Needless to say, Clear
Channel basically owns conservative talk radio in the United States. So
who owns Clear Channel? Well, it turns out that Bain Capital
is one of the primary owners of Clear Channel.
Yes, you read that correctly. The company that Mitt Romney ran for so
long is one of the "big bosses" over virtually all conservative talk
radio in America. Of course Mitt Romney is not running Bain Capital
anymore. He is a "retired partner", but he still has a
huge financial stake
in Bain Capital. We're talking about millions upon millions of
dollars. If you doubt this, just check out page 34
of this public financial disclosure report.
So if you have been wondering why so many conservative talk show hosts
are being so incredibly kind to Mitt Romney, this is the answer.
In the media world, there is a
clear understanding that you simply do not bite the hand that feeds
you. Some of the most prominent conservative talk radio hosts are
tens of millions of dollars a year.
If you were making tens of millions of
dollars a year, wouldn't you be very careful to avoid offending your
The deal in which Bain Capital
became one of the owners of Clear Channel was initiated just a short
time before Mitt Romney's first run for president. The following comes
On November 16, 2006,
Clear Channel announced plans to go private, being bought out by two
Thomas H. Lee Partners
Bain Capital Partners
for $18.7 billion, which is just under a 10 percent premium above
its closing price of $35.36 a share on November 16 (the deal values
Clear Channel at $37.60 per share).
The deal was finalized in 2008.
Today, Bain Capital is still one of the primary owners of Clear Channel.
One of the subsidiaries of Clear
Channel is Premiere Radio Networks.
Premiere Radio Networks distributes a
whole host of conservative talk radio shows. Everyone in the
conservative world knows names such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and
Glenn Beck. Clear Channel also controls some other conservative talk
radio hosts (such as Michael Savage and Mark Levin) that are not part of
the Premiere Radio family.
Premiere Radio Networks
Inc., a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, syndicates 90
radio programs and services to more than 5,000 radio affiliations
and reaches over 190 million listeners weekly. Premiere Radio is
the number one radio network in the country and features the
following personalities: Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Casey Kasem, Ryan
Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Bob (Kevoian) & Tom (Griswold), Delilah, Steve
Harvey, Blair Garner, George Noory, John Boy and Billy, Big Tigger,
Dr. Dean Edell, Bob Costas, Sean Hannity and others. Premiere is
based in Sherman Oaks, California, with 13 offices nationwide.
So do you think that any of those
hosts is going to risk viciously attacking Mitt Romney and Bain Capital
during this election season?
One of the controversies that
has plagued Premiere Radio Networks in recent years has been the uproar
their use of paid actors
to call in to their radio shows.
Clear Channel, through
Premiere Radio Networks,
auditions and hires actors to call in to talk radio shows and pose
as listeners in order to provide shows, carried by Clear Channel and
other broadcasters, with planned content in the form of stories and
opinions. The custom caller service provided by Premiere Radio
ensures its clients they won't hear the same actor's voice for at
least two months in order to appear authentic to listeners who might
otherwise catch on.
So perhaps that explains where some of
the "Romney callers" come from.
There is nothing illegal about what
Romney and Bain Capital have done, but it sure does not pass the "smell
Conservative talk radio has the
potential to sway millions of conservative voters in one direction or
another, and it is just not proper for Bain Capital and Romney to have
such an overpowering financial interest in conservative talk radio.
And yes, Mitt Romney is still
bringing in lots of money from Bain Capital. The following comes from a
about Mitt Romney....
At the time of his
departure, Romney negotiated an agreement with Bain Capital that
allowed him to receive a passive profit share as a retired partner
in some Bain Capital entities, including buyout and investment
With the private equity business continuing to thrive, this deal
would bring him millions of dollars in income each year.
As a result of his business career, by 2007 Romney and his wife had
a net worth of between $190 and $250 million, most of it held in
An additional blind trust existed in the name of the Romneys'
children and grandchildren that was valued at between $70 and
$100 million as of 2007.
The couple's net worth remained in the same range as of 2011, and
was still held in blind trusts.
In addition, Bain Capital and Bain &
Company continue to pour huge amounts of money into Romney's campaign
Just check out the following
list of the biggest donors to the Romney campaign. These numbers come
Goldman Sachs $367,200
Credit Suisse Group $203,750
Morgan Stanley $199,800
HIG Capital $186,500
Kirkland & Ellis $132,100
Bank of America $126,500
EMC Corp $117,300
JPMorgan Chase & Co $112,250
The Villages $97,500
Vivint Inc $80,750
Marriott International $79,837
Sullivan & Cromwell $79,250
Bain Capital $74,500
UBS AG $73,750
Wells Fargo $61,500
Blackstone Group $59,800
Citigroup Inc $57,050
Bain & Co $52,500
As with anything, whenever you want to
get to the real truth you just need to follow the money.
Just the other day, Rush
Limbaugh compared Rick Perry
to Fidel Castro
and rabidly defended Mitt Romney on his radio program....
“There’s no way you can try to
dress that up,” Limbaugh fumed. “I don’t understand it. Well,
politically I understand it, but that’s just absurd. It’s sad.
‘Cause I really, really, really like Rick Perry! I really do. I had
such hopes! I did. I’ll tell you, I did, but all of this talk about
“corporate raiders,” and as I listen to politicians start talking
about capitalism, lights are going off in my head. “Maybe they don’t
really know what it is. Maybe they’re under some misconception about
what capitalism is, because this characterization of it? A
distinction with venture capitalism and vulture capitalism? This
bite from Perry doesn’t compute.”
Michael Savage has been one of
the worst offenders of all. He made national headlines when he offered
one millions dollars
to drop out of the race so that Mitt Romney would have a clear path to
Globe's biography opens new windows into the candidate's time as a Mormon
lay leader. Romney was a traditionalist.
As Mitt Romney spends the next
leg of his campaign courting evangelical voters in South
Carolina, his Mormon faith is expected to re-emerge as a subject
of serious scrutiny. But concerns won’t belong exclusively to
theologically suspicious Baptists: a newly revealed episode from
the candidate’s time as a lay leader in the LDS church could
raise eyebrows among women’s advocates.
While serving as bishop
of a Mormon congregation near Boston in the early 80’s, Romney
once threatened to excommunicate a young single mother if she
did not give her soon-to-be-born son up for adoption, according
to a passage from a forthcoming book, “The Real Romney.”
excerpted this week in Vanity Fair.
The anecdote, which Romney has
disputed, sheds new light on a compelling part of the
candidate’s religious life—one that serves, politically, as a
double-edged sword. On one hand Romney’s time spent as a
minister of his faith gave him the unique opportunity of serving
low-income Boston neighborhoods, undercutting the narrative that
he’s an out-of-touch millionaire. On the other, his role as a
representative of the church sometimes put him in a position of
standing up for politically unsavory teachings.
Peggie Hayes had converted to
Mormonism as a teenage along with her family, and told the
book’s authors, Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott
Helman, that for a long time she found comfort in the faith’s
teachings. After returning to the congregation as a 23-year-old
divorced single mother, she soon got pregnant with a second
child. Knowing she was in need of financial assistance, the
Romneys arranged for her to do odd jobs for members of the
“Mitt was really good to us,”
Hayes told the authors. “He did a lot for us.”
But while Hayes considered
Romney a friend, he was also her bishop—which meant it was his
job to pass along sometimes-harsh church counsel. The tension
between the two relationships came to the forefront one day when
he came over to her apartment, and encouraged her to turn her
son over to the church’s adoption agency when he was born. (The
church’s position is that if a happy marriage between parents of
a newborn seems unlikely, adoption is preferable to single
Hayes was offended by the
suggestion, and told Romney she would never give up her son.
But, according to Hayes, Romney told her, “Well, this is what
the church wants you to do, and if you don’t, then you could be
excommunicated for failing to follow the leadership of the
Though she was defiant, the
authors write, “In that moment, she also felt intimidated. Here
was Romney, who held great power as her church leader and was
the head of a wealthy, prominent Belmont family, sitting in her
gritty apartment making grave demands.”
Hayes acknowledged the
seriousness of excommunication: “This is not playing around.
This is not like, ‘You don’t get to take Communion.’ This is
like ‘You will not be saved. You will enver see the face of
According to the book’s
authors, Romney would later deny that he ever threatened
excommunication, and a review of the LDS church guidelines shows
that the church does not often excommunicate members in
situations like this. As bishop, Romney didn’t have unilateral
authority to excommunicate Hayes--that decision would have been
made by a council of regional lay leaders after discussing the
matter with her—and failing to give up a child for adoption is
not considered a grave sin.
But in the end, Hayes left the
church anyway—not because of that conversation with Romney, but
because of what happened soon after. When her new son was nine
months old, he needed risky surgery, and a frightened Hayes
called Romney and asked him to confer a blessing on the baby.
But instead of coming himself, Romney sent two church members
Hayes didn’t know.
“I needed him,” she said. “It
was very significant that he didn’t come.”
One of Mitt Romney’s campaign
“Obama isn’t working.”
(It’s a play off the Tory “Labour
isn’t working” ad from the 1979 U.K.
elections that swept Margaret Thatcher into power.) And even if the
national unemployment rate should drift down to 8 percent or so by
Election Day, the president would still be forced to explain away an
anemic job creation record.
But what about Romney’s job
creation record? During his time as governor, Massachusetts had net job
growth of 1.4 percent,
as USA Today has noted. That was slower
than the national average of 5.3 percent with only Louisiana, Michigan
and Ohio notching slower gains. That’s bad.
Yet the unemployment rate also fell
sharply to 4.5 percent from 5.8 percent. That’s good.
“When Mitt came into office, the
state was losing jobs every month. When he left office, the economy was
generating new jobs by the thousands,” is how Romney’s website vaguely
describes his jobs record as governor. But you can go to the U.S. Labor
see the data for yourself.
From January 2003 when Romney took office through December 2007, the
Massachusetts economy added 61,042 jobs.
Then there’s Romney’s job
creation record at Bain Capital. What was the net affect of his firm’s
venture capital and private equity investments? Romney likes the nice,
round number of “over 100,000″ jobs created. This is what he told
Time magazine in
December: ”And so I’ll compare my experience in the private sector
where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs. We created over 100,000
jobs.” And this is what Romney told Fox last month: “And I’m very happy
in my former life; we helped create over 100,000 new jobs.”
Now recall how Republicans have
mocked Obama for his methodologically suspect “jobs saved or created”
metric. (In fact, the administration has even replaced “jobs” with “work
opportunities.”) Surely Team Romney
arrived at that “over 100,000″ number via some rigorous and
methodologically sound calculation that takes into account Bain
investments that panned out and those that didn’t. As Romney himself
said when he announced his presidential candidacy, “Sometimes I was
successful and helped create jobs, other times I was not.” And given
Romney’s financial acumen and that of his brainiac policy team, that
“over 100,000″ number should be bullet proof.
Eric Fehrnstrom says the 100,000
figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that
Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a
gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and
Domino’s (7,900 jobs). This tally obviously does not include job
losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved —
and are based on current employment figures, not the period when
Romney worked at Bain.
That’s not going to cut it. The
media will continue to pound away at the validity of the 100,000 number,
as The WaPo and USA Today have. So, too, the Obama campaign. There’s
obviously a lot more to Romney’s Bain career than those few investments.
I will concede that coming up with a
comprehensive number and then comparing it to Obama’s jobs record isn’t
simple. Not with “over 10,000 transactions” and “over 750 investments.”
For instance, what should be the cutoff date? When Romney left Bain,
today, or some arbitrary time period like “jobs created within ten years
of initial investment.” And I realize Bain’s goal was producing a fat
return on investment, not jobs.
But Team Romney should try
harder. First of all — just as a political matter — without a strong and
factual counter-argument, the campaign is vulnerable to media stories
focusing on Bain investments where jobs were lost — such as this
one from Reuters
about the firm’s investment in Worldwide Grinding Systems:
Soon after, in October 1993, Bain
Capital, co-founded by Mitt Romney, became majority shareholder in a
steel mill that had been operating since 1888. It was a gamble. The
old mill, renamed GS Technologies, needed expensive updating, and
demand for its products was susceptible to cycles in the mining
industry and commodities markets. Less than a decade later, the mill
was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were
denied the severance pay and health insurance they’d been promised,
and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 a
month. What’s more, a federal government insurance agency had to
pony up $44 million to bail out the company’s underfunded pension
plan. Nevertheless, Bain profited on the deal, receiving $12 million
on its $8 million initial investment and at least $4.5 million in
consulting fees. … ”I worked hard all my life and played by the
rules, and they allowed this to happen,” [one worker said].
Second, not only is Romney’s Bain
record on trial here, so is the whole idea of Schumpeterian,
entrepreneurial capitalism where “creative destruction” creates a
massive net benefit for investors. This is exactly the idea that the
Obama reelection campaign is attacking as promoting unacceptable levels
Romney likes to say, “I love data.”
It’s time he does a better job showing it.
Mitt Romney's been keeping
himself at arm's length from the 2012 campaign, perhaps wisely
recognizing that a Mitt Romney candidacy is more effective when there's
not that much Mitt Romney in it.
When it comes to facing his GOP rivals, Romney ... well, he doesn't face
them. He acts as if they don't exist. If he has to talk about them, he's
typically pretty charitable. Instead, his focus has been on Obama.
Romney has already projected himself into the future, finding himself
the GOP nominee.
It will be interesting to see if Rick Perry can get into his head --
part of that Bernanke kerfuffle was designed to do just that, as Romney
generically supports Bernanke. But if Mitt stays true to form, then his
strategy to deal with Perry will be to put him on fade.
The way Romney's been keeping himself offstage confused reporters for a
brief moment. There was that whole "Mittness Protection Program" thing
that everyone tried to make happen a few weeks ago, but Romney couldn't
Now, the Romney coverage is swinging back around to affirming his
strategy -- which we have been affirming for a long time. We can break
it down into three parts:
[Romney's] doing what establishment
candidates do, trying to limit his early exposure and create an air
of inevitability, and seeking to win over enough of the base to win
the nomination -- but not in a way that gives his establishment
backers pause about his electability. Historically, this has been a
pretty sound strategy for the "next in line" Republican candidate.
The knock on Romney, though, is that this is (supposedly) a bad
strategy in the political climate of 2011 and 2012. With the
election of Barack Obama, the GOP base was radicalized almost
overnight, as it seems to be whenever a Democrat wins the White
House. But the anger of the Obama era GOP base is also unique, in
that it's not just directed at the ruling Democrats but also at
Republican leaders. It was this base that insisted on nominating
unelectable candidates for Senate races in Nevada, Colorado,
Delaware and Alaska. And it's this base, a popular line of thinking
goes, that will never accept Romney in 2012 -- even if the
establishment closes rank around him: There's too much doubt about
his ideological purity, and his Massachusetts healthcare plan, with
its individual mandate, is just too similar to "ObamaCare."
But something funny has been playing out. All year, there's been
talk that Romney's campaign is facing imminent collapse -- a
tailspin like the one McCain faced in the middle of 2007, except
this time with no miraculous comeback. And all year, he's defied the
predictions, faring far better than the doubters expected.
GOP Presidential candidate Mitt
Romney has settled on a rather low-key strategy of avoiding
controversy, even as he allows his rivals to all discredit
themselves with outlandish statements.
If the last 24 hours are any indication, there's something to this
approach. In a single day, almost all of his opponents have said
something that has attracted negative national media attention and
should be raising real concerns among GOP establishment figures
about their fitness for the presidential campaign.
Just about the only Republican presidential candidate who hasn't
said anything ridiculous in the last 24 hours is Mitt Romney. It's a
low bar to clear, but for a candidate who obviously has his eyes on
winning the general election and not just the Republican primary,
it's also something of a vindication. And, hey, it might work even
in the primary: If Romney can stand by while his opponents implode
-- without getting drawn into the whackiness himself -- enough GOP
primary voters just may decide he's the last electable candidate
Mitt Romney is facing a few
opponents who at first looked capable of halting his march to the GOP
Newt Gingrich is making a mad dash for the front runner position and
may yet convince all Republican voters he is the man of the hour,
but indications are that he has peaked as he has shot himself in the
foot several times.
With his record of pseudo job creation and down-the-line conservative
politics, Texas Gov. Rick Perry menaced the Republican
front-runner in a way that other candidates -- from Iowa straw poll
winner Michele Bachmann to wealthy New Hampshire-dweller Jon
Huntsman -- have proven unable to do.
But you wouldn't know it from listening to Romney or his backers.
Mitt Romney is blasting Gingrich
with negative ads which try to transfer the flip flop mantle to him.
It's not that they don't take Perry seriously. Rather, Romney's
supporters believe the Bay Stater's tortoise-like strategy will play
to one of his essential strengths -- durability over the long haul
-- and show Republican primary voters that he's best prepared to go
up against a vulnerable incumbent president.
That's why since Perry joined the 2012 race, Romney and
his advisers have been conspicuously gentle with the newest
presidential candidate. On a visit to New Hampshire, Romney told
reporters that his business experience -- "having worked in the real
economy" -- would give him an advantage over Perry. But Romney did
little to disparage his challenger.
And how is Romney doing in New
Quite well, just
Ariana Huffington of the
huffingtonreport.com published a
"Mitt Romney's brazenly dishonest ad
is far from the garden-variety truth
stretching we're used to in
political campaigns. It is so
breathtakingly cynical it should
cause us to question whether a
candidate that would put it forth is
fit for any public office -- let
alone the presidency. Along with
being deceitful, the ad is also a
challenge to the media. It's like
when a toddler looks right at you
and slowly and deliberately spills a
glass of milk. The child wants to
see the reaction. It's a test of
boundaries. If there's no reaction,
then the message is that it's okay.
That Mitt Romney hasn't been forced
to apologize for this ad, that he
hasn't been forced to fire the team
responsible for it, isn't just a
failure of Romney's -- it's a
failure of our media culture."
campaign video: Romney flips like a toy monkey
Daniel Strauss -
10/28/11 03:49 PM ET
Jon Huntsman is ramping up his
criticism of Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper with a new campaign
The video, called "Backflip,"
features a split-screen: On one side is Romney, making
apparently contradictory statements — on issues like abortion
and an Ohio bill curtailing union bargaining rights — and on the
other a small wind-up toy monkey.
"I believe that abortion
should be safe and legal in this country," Romney says in a clip
from his campaign for governor of Massachussetts. The video then
cuts to Romney saying more recently he has "consistently been
The ad, released Friday, comes
the same day that Huntsman described Romney as a "perfectly
"While Mitt Romney has been doing
backflips on every issue from abortion to the individual
mandate, Gov. Huntsman has been consistent on where he stands,"
Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in a statement announcing the
video. "Leadership is not flipping back and forth on issues for
your own political advantage. Real leadership is taking a clear
position on issues even if it comes at political risk.
Backflipping is for toys and gymnasts, not presidents."
The ad and Huntsman's comments
are an aggressive push by the Huntsman campaign to capitalize on
recent criticism Romney has fielded from conservatives for being
inconsistent on certain issues. Recently, Huntsman was attacked
for appearing to reverse his position on the Ohion union
measure. On Tuesday Romney refused to say where he stood on the
A day later he said he fully
supported "Gov. Kasich's Question 2 in Ohio."
"I'm sorry if I created any confusion there," Romney said.
Also Huntsman's daughters
released a spoof campaign ad based on an unusual spot from
Herman Cain's presidential campaign. Cain has been competing
closely with Romney to lead the Republican presidential field in
Romney is also being targeted in a
Priorities USA, a Super PAC standing
behind President Barack Obama's
"Romney is worth as much as $250
million. But he only paid about 14
percent in federal taxes last year,"
says a narrator in the spot. "That's
less than what many middle-class
American families pay. American
families who are struggling to make
birth control, baby-making - oh my!
Rachel Maddow tore into Governor
Mitt Romney last night and took her
criticism of the GOP candidate (and,
really, all men in politics who have
debated issues relating to uteri) to
new heights on her Thursday show.
issue with what she saw as Romney's
failure to accurately answer a young
woman who questioned the Governor's
stance on birth control at an Iowa
town hall. Romney—a
of Maddow's— assumed the woman was
referring to his stance on abortion,
which he said he was against. But
the woman was actually referring to
what Romney has
said he supports:
a so-called "personhood amendment"
that codifies life as beginning at
that the language of such
amendments, which are currently on
the ballot in some states, could
lead to a ban on birth control.
After she played the clip of the
exchange, Maddow said, "Romney
apparently does not understand that
this is what he supports." She said
that the exchange reminded her about
the male domination of politics and
the media, and of the fact that
those men often find themselves
talking about women's bodies.
"Sometimes, I'm not sure they really
get it!" she almost shouted.
She then had her producers change
her usual blue background to a room
with a bar, large TV screen and big
leather sofa. Maddow turned what she
called her "man cave" into a special
Romney-themed cave, so her producers
included a graphic of a Harvard flag
and the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics
logo. She popped open a beer and
told the ladies to leave so she
could talk "just to the fellas."
"It's very simple," Maddow said.
then launched into a full
description of the baby-making
process and even put up a diagram of
the female reproductive system
titled the "man cave's
not-too-upsetting guide to
down-there parts." She mockingly
went through three beers in the
process of explaining to men how
babies were made, how birth control
worked, and that sometimes people
engaged in sexual acts that could
lead to pregnancy even though they
don't want it to. "This is how the
birth control works that Mitt Romney
told Mike Huckabee he would like to
make illegal!" she cried,
criticizing government involvement
in "litigating the second-by-second
legal status of what is happening in
some guy's girlfriend's uterus on a
know it's awkward to talk about
these things sometimes," Maddow
concluded. She also said that she
knew this was "very upsetting" but
felt it was warranted to talk sense
into men. "Criticize away," she told
If campaigns have the
potential to become vehicles for candidates to advance
themselves financially, far more often they serve as veritable
bank accounts for associates or friends of those candidates.
Take, for instance, the latest financial disclosure reports for
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. From July 1 to Sept. 30,
the former Massachusetts governor paid more than $2.15 million
in fees to SJZ LLC, a financial consulting firm that manages the
campaign’s fundraising efforts nationwide.
SJZ LLC was founded by
Spencer Zwick, the national finance director for Romney's 2008
campaign and Romney's son Tagg's
current business partner
at the private equity firm Solamere Capital. That's on top of
the more than $666,000 the campaign paid SJZ LLC in the second
quarter of the campaign, and the nearly $1 million
it received from
Romney's Free and Strong America political action committee.
(It's worth noting that SJZ has done political work for other
campaigns in the past. Between March 2009 and January 2011, for
example, it was paid $1.4 million by Meg Whitman's failed
gubernatorial campaign in California.)
Zwick wasn't the only
Solamere official to be on the receiving end of Romney's
presidential campaign funds. John Miller, who is Romney's
National Finance Co-Chairman and an
at Solamere, is also the Chief Executive Officer of JR Miller
Enterprises, an official at the company confirmed. A
JR Miller Enterprises affiliate,
received a $12,391 check
from the Romney presidential campaign to pay for air travel on
August 19, 2011.
In other words:
According to the
Miller likely rented out his corporate jet for a flight from
Utah, where Romney was
at the time,
to San Diego
where Romney is renovating an oceanfront home.
That Romney would turn to
close associates and his son's business partners for campaign
assistance or a trip on a private jet is not unprecedented.
President Obama acted similarly when he paid millions of dollars
to David Axelrod's political consulting firm during the 2008
But, as they were back then,
questions have been raised about both the type of relationship
resulting from these expenditures and whether it is ethical for
candidates to use donor money in this manner.
"It is not illegal, but
it sure doesn't smell right when it comes to politics," said Bob
Edgar, chief executive of Common Cause, a national nonprofit
advocacy group that first raised concerns about Romney's
to theBoston Globe.
"They themselves have become
wealthy by using Romney's political activities over the past few
years," Edgar said. "I think the general public would question:
a. what is this all about, and b. How much is Spencer Zwick
making off of Romney, both with the equity firm but also
continuing to help him in the development area?"
Excerpts from an article posted
at politico.com by
Ben Smith on 8/10/11
Gov. Mitt Romney lobbied the credit
ratings agency Standard & Poor’s in 2004 to raise his state’s credit
rating in part because Massachusetts had raised taxes during an
economic downturn two years earlier.
The claim was part of a presentation
to the ratings agency obtained by POLITICO under a state freedom of
information law from the Massachusetts Executive Office of
Administration and Finance. The Nov. 4 presentation, stamped
“confidential,” helped persuade S&P to raise the state’s grade and
handed Romney the perfect talking point for last week’s humiliating
national downgrade by the same agency.
“When I was
governor, S&P rewarded Massachusetts with a credit rating upgrade
for our sound fiscal management and the underlying strength of our
economy,” Romney boasted. “That didn’t happen by accident. The
president’s failure to put the nation’s fiscal and economic house in
order has caused a massive loss of confidence that resulted in an
But Romney’s case to S&P is a far
cry from the anti-tax absolutism of the Republican Party he hopes to
lead. Indeed, it bears a far closer resemblance to the
right-of-center grand compromise rejected by House Republicans this
year — dismissed because it would include new taxes and end tax
breaks President Barack Obama described as “loopholes” — or the more
modest compromise that passed, than to the Cut, Cap, and Balance
plan Romney “applauded.”
The presentation to the ratings
agency reveals that Romney’s administration made the case to
Standard & Poor’s that his state was creditworthy because of both
spending cuts — the current preferred GOP method — and new revenues,
including fees he imposed and tax “loopholes” he closed. The
presentation also prominently cited a controversial set of tax
increases in the summer of 2002, which Romney, then a candidate, had
The documents, 27 pages of
confidential “discussion materials” (Part
4) and a
focused on the 2005 budget, don’t make clear whether Romney
participated in the presentation. Eric Kriss, who served as Romney’s
secretary of administration and finance, said he believed Romney and
his top aides had delivered the presentation on a conference call
with the ratings agency analysts.
Romney’s spokesman then and now,
Eric Fehrnstrom, said he wasn’t sure whether Romney was present, and
current Massachusetts officials were unable immediately to say,
though it would be typical for the executive to star at such a
And Romney said in a radio
interview Tuesday that he was proud of his personal involvement in
the process, in contrast to Obama. "The president really ought to
personally sit down and meet with S&P. I did that when I was
governor; I met with the ratings agencies and talked about our
future and tried to instill confidence in our future because, look,
how they rate our debt and how they rate our future as a nation will
affect the interest costs that we end up paying and will affect
homeowners and borrowers all over the country," he told the San
Diego station KCBQ.
The agency was duly impressed:
“Over the last few years, Massachusetts has taken certain actions
that have reduced budget uncertainty, reined in spending, and
prudently managed resources during a difficult national economic
slowdown,” Standard & Poor’s said in the March 2005 report in which
it upgraded Massachusetts to AA from AA-.
The 2004 presentation cuts to a
truth about the ratings that has been obscured in the current debate:
While raters may have some views on economic policy, their basic concern
is that government income is on track to pay government obligations. The
question of whether higher taxes or lower spending will produce that
outcome is secondary to their evaluation.
“When you’re talking to ratings agencies, you are
trying to emphasize your fiscal strengths irrespective of what might be
your long-term policy,” said Kriss, who said Romney had been “vehemently
opposed” to the tax increases despite their role in balancing the
said Romney’s broader fiscal policy fit that technocratic,
The one-term governor was “focused on balancing the
budget and creating surpluses instead of spurring economic growth,” said
David Tuerck, executive director of the anti-tax, anti-regulation Beacon
Hill Institute, who added that while Romney had cut some taxes, one of
his greatest accomplishments was building up a large rainy-day fund. “He
erred in the direction of building up revenues in the stabilization fund
in place of moving toward a more robust policy of economic expansion.”
Romney, in his presentation to S&P, touted the growth
of that fund, and the combination of emergency spending cuts and new
revenues he’d used to fill it.
Massachusetts “successfully managed revenue and
expense positions” during a downturn in fiscal years 2002 and ’03, the
presentation said. “The commonwealth acted decisively to address the
The claims are followed by a chart indicating that the
state stayed solvent as tax collections plunged: “July 2002 —
Legislation to increase tax revenue” by more than $1 billion in each
fiscal year; a tax amnesty; and “tax ‘loophole’ legislation” worth $269
The document also noted that the fiscal 2004 budget
“increased fees to raise $271 million yearly,” a move Romney’s critics
denounced at the time as a stealth tax.
New revenues amounted to a larger sum than the
emergency spending cuts of about $500 million that Romney touted, but
they weren’t the only element of the case for a ratings upgrade. Romney
also argued that the state had succeeded in shifting school construction
and other costs onto a more sustainable fiscal footing, and that he’d
avoided some of the questionable one-shot measures — like borrowing
against anticipated tobacco lawsuit payments — to which other states
Romney’s aides, asked about the presentation, pointed
out that Romney, once he took office as governor in 2003, never signed a
tax increase, but instead passed on most of the fruits of an economic
boom to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.
“Gov. Romney balanced
the budget primarily by cutting waste and inefficiency, by
streamlining and economizing, and by reducing nonessential
state spending,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul in an
email. “Obama was talking about raising taxes.”
“At the time of Massachusetts’s upgrade,
[Romney] clearly said he was proud to have done it without
raising taxes and he cut taxes 19 times as governor,” she
Romney’s aides also argued that Romney’s
loophole closures were more authentic than Obama’s. While
some of the tax breaks Obama would end are policy choices
aimed at boosting specific industries, Romney targeted what
his allies say amounted to mere corporate trickery — banks,
for instance, reclassifying themselves as real estate
companies in order to be taxed at a lower rate.
“Loophole closings are not tax increases.
Companies sometimes use aggressive accounting techniques to
lower their tax liability in ways that were never intended
by the law,” said Saul. “When that happened, the state
closed the loophole. That’s called tax enforcement.”
Local analysts didn’t buy that all of the
“loopholes” were that straightforward.
“He, like everybody, when they’re raising
corporate taxes, calls it ‘closing tax loopholes,’” said
Michael Widmer, president of the business-backed
Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “A couple of these were
real loopholes but by and large they were increases in
corporate taxes by changes in tax policy.”
That dispute is relatively common in
fiscal policy. Harder to square with Romney’s public
rhetoric is the presentation’s blunt claim of credit — on
behalf of the Commonwealth, if not Romney — for the deeply
contested 2002 tax increase. Faced with declining revenues,
the Democratic-controlled Massachusetts Legislature passed a
package worth more than $1.1 billion dollars in new taxes.
They suspended planned cuts to the personal income tax,
sharply raised long-term capital gains tax rates, and added
a 75-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes.
The state estimated at the time that the
hikes would cost the average non-smoking resident $317 the
following year, while costing a pack-a-day smoker $592.
The measure passed over the veto of acting
Republican Gov. Jane Swift, and helped force her out of a
race for a full term. Romney ran a sharply anti-tax
campaign, benefiting from public anger at the increases,
though he opposed as too radical a ballot measure that would
have abolished the state’s income tax.
Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi
predicted in 2002 that Swift’s failure to stop the tax
increases would, in the end, appear as a favor to Romney:
“He can say he opposes the [income tax freeze] and the new
taxes; if elected he will benefit from both.”
relative died tragically in an illegal abortion in 1963:
Her untold story -- and what it means for Romney
In a 1994 Senate
debate with Ted Kennedy, Mitt Romney revealed a startling
chapter from his past: A close relative had died many years
earlier in a botched illegal abortion, shaping Romney's
stance in favor of safe and legal access to abortion for all
women. But in the many years since that revelation, even as
Romney flipped his position and became an ardent opponent of
legal abortion, the details of his young relative's story,
including even her name, have never been reported.
The relative he was referring to back in
'94, Salon has learned, was a Detroit woman named Ann
Keenan. She was the sister of Romney's brother-in-law and
died at the age of 21 in 1963, a full decade before Roe v.
Wade. While much of what happened remains murky, an
investigation by Salon has uncovered never-reported details
about her life and death, including: how she died (an
infection); that her grief-stricken parents asked for
memorial donations to be made to Planned Parenthood; and
that the family apparently wanted to keep the death quiet
because Romney's politically ambitious father, George, was
then governor of Michigan.
in many states and the possibility that a Republican victory
in 2012 -- potentially by Romney -- will tilt the balance of
the Supreme Court against Roe v. Wade, Romney's account of
how a back-alley abortion touched his own family is more
relevant than ever. The episode is a window into an era when
obtaining an abortion meant the real risk of serious injury
or death. It also represents a key part of Romney's
political journey on the issue of abortion, which has more
than any other tarred him as a flip-flopper.
The outlines of the story first became
public when Romney -- unprompted -- brought it up in that
1994 debate with Kennedy, whom he was trying to unseat. At
the time, Romney, who was making his first bid for office,
was struggling to prove his pro-choice bona fides to liberal
Massachusetts voters. In the debate, he insisted that he
separated his personal beliefs -- opposition to abortion --
from his policy position that abortion "should be safe and
legal in this country." Accused by Kennedy of being
"multiple-choice," Romney angrily fired back:
"On the idea of 'multiple-choice,' I have
to respond. I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are
very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my
beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear,
close family relative that was very close to me who passed
away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my
mother and my family have been committed to the belief that
we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs
on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering
on that." Watch:
After the debate, the Romney campaign
wouldn't identify the woman Romney had referred to, saying
only that she was the sister of Romney's brother-in-law, and
that she had been engaged when she became pregnant. The
candidate himself said, "I hadn't thought much about"
abortion until the relative's death, but that it "obviously
makes one see that regardless of one's beliefs about choice,
that you would hope it would be safe and legal."
Through public records in Michigan and
interviews with people who knew her, the basic contours of
Ann Keenan's life can be established. This picture, at
right, is from her 1959 senior yearbook at Detroit's
(click for larger size), four years before her death.
Keenan was born in 1941, the daughter
of a Detroit public school English teacher. Her elder
brother Loren married Mitt Romney's elder sister Lynn in the
late 1950s. The family lived on Edison Avenue in the
in the heart of Detroit, then a booming manufacturing
center. (Indeed, George Romney was president of the American
Motor Corp. before being elected governor of Michigan in
"She was so intelligent, beautiful and a
friend to everyone," Marilyn Frey, a classmate and friend of
Keenan in the 22-member class of 1959 at the all-girls
Liggett School, recalled in an email to Salon. In high
school, Keenan was active in theater, performing in "The
Importance of Being Earnest" and serving for three years on
the drama board. She was a scholarship recipient and class
president her sophomore year. One of Romney's sisters was
quoted in the press in 1994 recalling that Keenan "was a
beautiful, talented girl [whom] we all loved."
on to Michigan State University but little is known about
her time there. In 1962, just a year before her death, she
in the Grosse Pointe News after she and a young man pleaded
guilty to using a fake ID to buy alcohol.
On Oct. 7,
1963, at Wyandotte General Hospital south of Detroit, Keenan
died of an infection following what her death
describes as a "criminal recent abortion." The cause of
death is listed as:
Subarachnoid hemorrhage following
septic criminal recent abortion with septic
thromboembolism pneumonia and hepatitis with focal
necrosis of liver
Infection, often caused by the use of
unsanitary instruments, was one of the most common causes of
death from abortion in the pre-Roe era, according to Dr.
David Grimes, who previously worked at the Centers for
Disease Control studying abortion deaths.
Two of Keenan's friends, Frey and Sandra
Nye, did not know how she died until Salon contacted them
recently. That may have something to do with the fact that
George Romney, who would go on to run for the Republican
presidential nomination in 1968, had been elected governor
just a year before Keenan's death.
"It was all very hush-hush because Romney
was governor, and they really wanted this very quiet and to
go away," said Nye, who attended Liggett and Michigan State
with Keenan. A rumor circulated that Keenan had committed
suicide, Nye said, and she did not remember a funeral being
What did appear was a
brief death notice in the Detroit News. It says merely that
Keenan died "suddenly," but her parents added that "Memorial
tributes may be sent to the Planned Parenthood Association."
Planned Parenthood was at that time an organization focused
exclusively on birth control and family planning; abortions,
of course, were not yet legal. But the group had sponsored a
conference several years earlier supporting liberalization
of abortion laws.
Mitt Romney was 16
when Keenan died.
We don't know
what Keenan's abortion experience was like. She could, like
many women who ended up injured or dead from abortions in
that era, have tried to self-induce. Douching with soap or
bleach was a "common and frequently fatal method," though
there were many others, according to Leslie Reagan's
Abortion Was a Crime." Big city hospitals treated thousands
of women each year for often brutal injuries related to
illegal abortions. By the early 1960s, as childbirth became
safer, abortion-related deaths made up nearly half of the
entire maternal mortality rate in New York City, according
to one study.
Alternatively, Keenan may have been able,
through a referral from a doctor or through word-of-mouth
(perhaps from her fiancé or a family member), to find an
abortionist. That abortionist could have been someone with
no medical training, or a licensed doctor willing to quietly
perform the procedure on the side. Keenan might have been
blindfolded and taken alone to an unknown place, a common
precaution at the time. But the quality of service could be
spotty and conditions were often unclean, a major cause of
Plus, in the face of police crackdowns in
the early '60s, the cost of hiring an abortionist was
quickly increasing. A woman seeking discretion might have
had to travel to another city. And the stakes were extremely
high. For women who were found out, there could be
disciplinary consequences at college. And there was also, of
course, the intense social shaming inflicted on unmarried
women who became pregnant.
A story cited in Reagan's book
demonstrates just how powerful the stigma could be:
One woman, who had gone to a southern
women's college, remembered another student who had an
illegal abortion. "She was too frightened to tell anyone
what she had done," she recalled, "so when she developed
complications, [she] tried to take care of herself. She
locked herself in the bathroom between two dorm rooms
and quietly bled to death."
Some women who suffered complications
delayed going to the hospital out of a very real fear of
interrogation or referral to the police -- with fatal
consequences. (Though it was typically the providers, not
their clients, who were prosecuted.)
Evergreen Cemetery, Detroit
The data is imperfect, but
(pdf) from this era suggest that as many as 5,000 women died
per year from illegal abortions in the United States.
Following the liberalization of abortion laws in several
states in the early 1970s and the Roe decision in 1973, the
death rate dropped drastically. In New York City, for
example, the maternal mortality rate dropped 45 percent the
year after the state legalized abortion, according to
is precisely what made Romney's insistence in that 1994
debate that abortion should be "safe and legal" so
compelling. That year, he even attended a Planned Parenthood
fundraiser, and his wife, Ann, gave $150 to the group. And
while he used much more muted language, Romney vowed during
his successful 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts
to uphold the state's abortion laws. But in 2005, as he
prepared to seek the 2008 GOP presidential nomination,
Romney switched gears and announced in a Boston Globe
that he was changing his position, describing himself as
"prolife" and arguing that states should be able to set
their own abortion laws.
At around the same time, Romney's
statements from the '94 debate received new scrutiny. Boston
Globe columnist Eileen McNamara interviewed an associate of
his late mother, Lenore Romney, whom Romney had praised in
'94 for supposedly supporting legal abortion during her own
1970 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Michigan. The
associate, who had worked on Lenore Romney's unsuccessful
campaign, had no memory of the candidate coming out in favor
of legal abortion. Lenore Romney's campaign took place seven
years after Ann Keenan's death and three years before Roe.
In response to McNamara's column, Romney's office dug up an
old platform document from his mother's campaign that
offered a muddled-sounding position:
I support and recognize the need for
more liberal abortion rights while reaffirming the legal
and medical measures needed to protect the unborn and
pregnant woman [sic]."
When he changed his abortion stance, Mitt
Romney didn't make reference to Ann Keenan's case or discuss
how her own tragic story meshed with his new stance, which
effectively called for a return to the way things were when
Keenan died. His presidential campaign declined to comment
for this story. (And Keenan's older brother did not respond
to a request for comment.)
political issue, abortion continues to cause headaches for
Romney. In June, he declined to sign a pledge by the
antiabortion group Susan B. Anthony List,
that it would require signatories to defund thousands of
hospitals that offer abortion services. But Romney
maintained that he would cut funding to Planned Parenthood,
that he opposed Roe, and that "abortion should be limited to
only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the
WASHINGTON -- Reform groups filed an
official complaint and request for investigation on Friday against
the company that gave a $1 million donation to a pro-Mitt Romney
group then subsequently dissolved.
Campaign Legal Center
with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and
sent a letter
to the U.S. Department of Justice. They're calling for a closer look
at the $1 million contribution from the company W Spann LLC to
Restore Our Future PAC, a Super PAC created by former Romney
staffers to support the former Massachusetts governor's bid for the
"This case deserves a good hard
look from the agencies charged with enforcing our nation’s election
laws and if violations are found they must be prosecuted vigorously
to deter such violations in the future -- otherwise 'straw
companies' will make a mockery of campaign finance disclosure and
the specter of foreign campaign contributions will hang over the
process," Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center,
said in a statement issued Friday.
Democracy 21 President Fred
Wertheimer said, "In this case, it appears that someone has gone to
great lengths to evade the campaign finance disclosure laws in order
to hide what they are doing from the American people. This is
unacceptable and potentially illegal conduct and we are calling for
an investigation of possible campaign finance violations by the
Federal Election Commission and Justice Department."
The calls for an
investigation come one day after
that W Spann had dissolved in July, only four months after forming
and three months after making the contribution.
The FEC complaint alleges that W
Spann broke the law by making a contribution in the name of another
person and failing to form and register as a political committee.
The letter to the Justice Department asks that, if the FEC fails to
act, the Department step in to enforce the law.
Speculation around the
source of the W Spann contribution is ongoing. The
David Bernstein writes that the
contribution may have come from the hedge fund billionaire Paul
Singer, whose Elliott Management has an office at the address W
Spann listed on its contribution.
Bernstein speculates that Singer
may have wished to give to the pro-Romney group anonymously because
he was also "reported to be the main funder behind New Yorkers
United for Marriage, a coalition formed earlier this year to
advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage in that state."
Although Romney has received
tepid support from social conservatives in the past, on Friday he
signed a pledge
to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "the union
of one man and one woman" if he were elected president.
Mitt Romney’s atrocious record on job creation continues to from
Democrats are starting to focus more of their energies on the Republican
frontrunner’s more glaring vulnerability.
Today, for example, the former governor will campaign at a NASCAR race
in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Democratic National Committee released a
new video to honor the occasion.
case there are any doubts, this has the benefit of being true. During
Romney’s only service in public office, his state’s record on job
creation was “one
of the worst in the country.”
out of 50 states in jobs
growth on Romney’s watch (and unlike President Obama, Romney didn’t
inherit an economic crisis). There was a reason Romney served one term
and then quit — he was not all popular with his constituents and
probably would have lost a re-election bid.
the campaign trail, Romney keeps making this worse. He not only seems to
find unemployment funny, he’s also arguing that jobless Americans have
to bear a greater burden because corporations need another tax cut.
Despite all of this, Romney has decided to not only build his entire
campaign around the jobs issue, but also position himself as a champion
of the unemployed. This morning’s DNC video is a hint of what’s to come
— labeling Romney as “the anti-jobs candidate” will be a pretty
purely political matter, unemployment is obviously a key obstacle for
the president’s re-election. Is Obama lucky enough to have Republicans
nominate the candidate whose weakest
issue is jobs?
Mitt Romney is
Damned. That much is clear. But where and how ? Dante neglected to
specify which circle of hell a soul is consigned to after betraying the
citizens of Massachusetts for the sake of Greed and politics.
Traitors are of course consigned to the innermost circles, ranging from traitors to their
kin, lords, country and benefactors. No space appears to have been left for traitors
to citizens of States.
The thought struck us that hell is long overdue for a make-over. The business of sin
has changed substantially since Dante's day. Not only are many of the sins archaic
(it seems doubtful at this point that Protestants are damned as schismatics) but as in the
McConnell case, Dante has failed to keep up with the times. What is the punishment
for TV evangelists Political Liars, Political Theives, or for that matter for those take
advantage of Citizens.
Whatever Romney's position, anyone who
betrays Citizens in that calculating manner deserves the fate that Dante would
assign him: being trapped in ice up to the neck in the deepest pit of the Inferno,
where treachery against basic human bonds is punished and where Satan himself, once the
brightest of the rebel angels, beats his bat's wings.
Good Luck Mitt, Satan is coming for you
anytime now - he remembers when you sold your soul and he's coming to collect!!!
We will leave it up to the reader to determine whether
Mitt Romney has made serious errors in judgment. Mitt has sort-of supported a
Conservative Christian position especially when it involves running for office. But
you can't tell because he has flip flopped so many times that he can say he has supported
anything and been against anything. It is apparent from the data collected, that
truth and the first amendment may be in danger from his past actions.
When we called Mitt Romney's office last year, they stated that his
position is that there is no such thing as any religion but his version of
Mormonism/Christianity, that all other religions weren't "Real"
religions." What is a real religion, Mr. Romney?
What are you practicing? Whatever it is should be
made illegal. Read the following and remember: "By their Works may they be
known." This is a summary of information collected from several sources
including Washington Post, Salon Magazine, Harpers Magazine, Atlanta Journal Constitution
and others about Mitt Romney.
(Remember it is best to investigate on your own when
looking at allegations about anyone. Don't believe us, think for
yourself and investigate for yourself! And remember, the Religious Freedom Coalition
does not represent any political party nor do we recommend any political candidate, nor
are we involving ourselves in the political process.
Mitt Romney’s impressive political acumen was instilled in him from
his birth on March 12, 1947, to a failed presidential candidate
(George) and a failed Senate candidate (Lenore). Born Williard Mitt
Romney, he was named after his father’s best friend, hotel magnate J.
Willard Marriott, founder of a chain of hotels that, like Romney
himself, are nice-looking but generally bland and indistinctive.
Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints, otherwise known as Mormons, otherwise known as “those guys that
HBO show with the polygamists is about.” When the U.S. Supreme Court
upheld various anti-polygamy statues in the late 1800s, Romney’s
great-grandparents fled to Mexico so the men could bang multiple wives
they could practice their religion. The family returned to the United
States after Mitt’s father was born. In summation: Mitt Romney’s
ancestors were sex addicts, and his father was a Mexican immigrant.
Mitt has been married for 38 years to Ann Romney, who is a
convert to her husband’s religion. They have five sons, one of whom is
named “Tagg.” According to Mitt, the sons, who are all eligible to
fight in Iraq, are serving their country by "helping me get elected.”
The Army’s loss is the Internet’s gain, because the brothers host a
blog, creatively called Five Brothers, which features such America-serving stories as, “Soup Recipes Submitted To AnnRomney.com,” and “An Easy Halloween Costume.” Five Brothers is a political must-read, right after the Daily Kos. Also, once again, one of Romney’s sons is named “Tagg.”
From 1974 to 1998, Romney eschewed politics for the traditional
pursuit of accumulating vast piles of money. During that time, he
co-founded Boston’s Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm
which yielded a dickishly high, yet no less impressive 113% rate of
return during his 14 year tenure. Romney left Bain Capital in 1998 to
head the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee.
Romney’s Games made $100 million in profit, which is really what the
Greeks had in mind all along.
In 1994, he ran for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, losing after Kennedy
infamously called the (then) pro-choice Romney “multiple choice,” a
stinging rebuke for which Romney was only able to think of the perfect
comeback hours later, while lying in bed, which is totally frustrating.
On the heels of his Olympic success, Romney was elected governor of
Massachusetts in 2002. He began his term as a proponent of domestic
partnerships for same-sex couples, and ended it urging the U.S. Senate
to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Untroubled by low
approval ratings (70% of Massachusetts residents rated him “fair to
poor”), Romney decided to run for president at the conclusion of his
term in January 2007.
On February 7, 2008, Romney suspended his presidential
campaign, describing his moral obligation to make sure the Democrats
lose as badly as possible. At a speech to the Conservative Political
Action Conference, Romney spoke at length about his devotion to
ensuring the success of the Iraq war and protecting American lives. In
solidarity, voters overwhelmingly agreed with him that the the best
thing for America was for him to not be President.
Interestingly, after his brief consideration for the 2008 Vice
Presidential candidacy, Romney has somehow positioned himself as the
moderate, sensible candidate in the GOP's early 2012 presidential
consideration, considering his likely opponents.
Romney is currently against the conservative trifecta of abortion,
gay marriage and stem cell research, despite the fact that the latter
may hold a cure for his wife Ann’s multiple sclerosis. He supports the
Iraq war, the death penalty and withholding constitutional rights from
suspected terrorists. All positions, of course, are subject to change.
Poor Mitt Romney. He’s been accused
of a lot of flip flops in his campaign. He was for
government mandated health care, then against it, being
pro-choice or anti-abortion depending on what office
he’s running for.
Now his biggest
talking point in his presidential campaign — claiming
that President Barack Obama has made the economy worse —
is turning into another about face. With the media
pointing out that the claim doesn’t statistically hold
true, Romney is now trying to say he never said it in
the first place.
When NBC producer Sue
Kroll asked the former Massachusetts governor why he
believes that Obama’s policies have made the economy
worse — when the economy is now growing (and not
shrinking like it was in 2009), when the Dow is climbing
(and no longer in a free-fall like it was in ’09), and
when the unemployment rate is down a full percentage
point from where it was in Oct. ’09 — Romney gave this
I didn’t say
that things are worse.
Romney went on to say:
What I said was
that economy hasn’t turned around, that you’ve got
20 million Americans out of work, or seriously
unemployed; housing values still going down. You
have a crisis of foreclosures in this country. The
economy, by the way, if you think the economy is
great and going well, be my guest. But the president
of the United States, when he put in place his
stimulus plan and borrowed $787 billion, said he
would hold unemployment below 8% — and 8% seemed
like an awfully high number. It hasn’t been below 8%
since. That’s failure. We’re over 9% unemployment.
That’s failure. He set the bogie himself at 8%
,which strikes me as a very high number and we’re
still above that three years later.
But of course,
Romney did say it. A lot. So everyone should have seen
this video coming.
frontrunner officially launches his 2012
presidential bid—with a fact-free claim
about the looming extinction of America's
free market economy.
Excerpt from an article on
June 2, 2011
in the afternoon, Romney delivered his
announcement speech at a New Hampshire farm, and
said the line
Romney's big day. In New Hampshire, he will
officially announce his second presidential
run—which unofficially began the moment John
McCain lost to Barack Obama. And he's launching
his campaign with a whopper.
to the advance text of his speech—which his
aides handed out to various media outfits to
boost interest in Romney's unsurprising
declaration—Romney will proclaim that President
Obama has "failed America." He will blast Obama
for expanding the size and reach of government.
He will somberly state,
"We are only
inches away from ceasing to be a free market
Inches away? Is he
kidding? Did Sarah Palin write this line for
Reporters should ask the former
mandate-embracing governor of Massachusetts to
back up this demagogic statement. Where is the
free market grinding to a halt? Romney might be
tempted to repeat the right-wing shibboleth that
Obama's health care overhaul is a "government
sentiment Romney expressed recently
when he gave a speech explaining (or defending
or excusing) the health care reform he enacted
in the Bay State. But Politifact.com rated this
"Lie of the Year,"
noting that the Obama plan relies on private
insurance companies, and it
its "pants on fire" rating for recycling the
"takeover" line last month.
what other evidence might Romney submit to back
up his claim that the free market economy is on
the brink of destruction? American automakers
are in a much better (and more competitive)
position, due to Obama's rescue plan. (Romney
opposed the use of federal money
to save Detroit.)
Corporate and bank profits have been soaring in
recent months. And the stock mark recovered from
the losses brought about by the Bush-Cheney
crash of 2008. If this is
the end of our free market economy, titans of
industry and investors may be tempted to embrace
economic news for the rest of the nation,
though, has indeed been not bright. The lead
story of this morning's Washington Post
"The economic recovery is faltering, and
Washington is running out of ways to get it back
on track." Manufacturing and private-sector job
creation have both slowed, while home prices are
declining and consumer spending has slackened.
All this, combined with the downgrade of
Greece's debt rating by Moody's, sent stocks
tumbling on Wednesday.
Romney, the apparent GOP frontrunner, has plenty
of cause to talk about the economy and to
critique current policies. As a former business
executive and past governor, he can boast
experience concerning economic activity and
government policy-making. In fact, of all the
GOP candidates in the field, Romney has the most
standing to challenge Obama's economic actions
(even if the company he led often brokered deals
resulted in job losses).
announcement speech, though, Romney is signaling
that he's not prepared to have an adult
conversation that transcends the scoring of
political points. Romney's paramount
responsibility as a presidential wannabe is to
play to (or pander to) Republican primary
voters. In the past, he has demonstrated how far
he's willing to go in that regard by trading in
his moderate/liberal positions on abortion, gay
rights, and gun control for the traditional GOP
stances on these matters. Issuing over-the-top
assertions about the economy is not a stretch
challenging times deserve serious
discourse—especially on economic matters. The
Republicans are pushing the notion that
drastically reducing government spending is the
cure for what ails the economy. Conventional
economists disagree. With overall demand
lagging, they say, now's not the time to
downsize government-driven demand. That is, not
if you care about boosting (or maintaining)
economic activity and creating (or saving) jobs.
How this debate turns out will affect the
fortunes of millions of working Americans—and of
the nation itself.
play an important role in this debate. If
there's a fact-based and reasonable case to be
made for the Republican position, he's the
ex-CEO for the job. But such a conversation
needs to be free of demagoguery—or, at least,
free of excessive demagoguery. But when his
audience is red-meat-hungry Republican primary
voters and caucus attendees, Romney is not going
to trim the excess.
nation's free market economy is not on the verge
of extinction. (Oh, look, here come the
collectivists!) Romney must know that. Yet
his willingness to utter such an extreme,
fear-laden remark shows he's eager to tap the
paranoid, Obama-is-destroying-America sentiment
rife within Republican ranks. You might even say
that Romney has drunk the Tea
David Corn is
Jones' Washington bureau chief. For
more of his stories,
Mitt Romney is attempting to
establish himself as the Republican presidential candidate with
the most credibility on job creation, but the former
Massachusetts governor may have trouble defending his record.
During Romney's tenure as governor, Massachusetts' job growth
was bested by every state in the nation except three, including
Hurricane Katrina-devastated Louisiana. As CEO of Bain Capital,
Romney profited as five of the companies under his firm's
direction went bankrupt, and thousands of workers lost their
jobs. One particularly brutal round of firings came back to
haunt Romney during his failed 1994 Senate campaign, when
laid-off workers protested his candidacy.
As Governor, Romney
Oversaw Dismal Job Growth In Massachusetts
Post: As Governor, "Romney Presided
Over One Of The Puniest Rates Of Growth Among The 50 U.S.
According to the Huffington Post:
"[A]s Massachusetts governor from January 2003 to January 2007,
Romney presided over one of the puniest rates of employment
growth among the 50 U.S. states, at a time the nation's economy
was booming." [Huffington Post,
After First Year
With Romney As Governor, Massachusetts Ranked "Dead Last" In
According to MarketWatch: "How was Romney's performance by his
first anniversary? Fiftieth out of fifty. That's right. In
Romney's first year in charge, Massachusetts ranked dead last in
America in jobs growth." [MarketWatch,
By The End Of
Romney's Term, Massachusetts Still Ranked "Fourth From Last" In
Jobs Growth. According to
contender was the governor of Massachusetts from January
2003 to January 2007. And during that time, according to the
U.S. Labor Department, the
state ranked 47th in the entire country in jobs growth.
Fourth from last.
The only ones that did
worse? Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana. In other words, two
rustbelt states and another that lost its biggest city to a
The Massachusetts jobs
growth over that period, a pitiful 0.9%, badly lagged other
high-skill, high-wage, knowledge economy states like New
York (2.7%), California (4.7%) and North Carolina (7.6%).
average: More than 5%. [MarketWatch,
"On All Key
Labor Market Measures," Massachusetts "Lagged Behind The
According to a Boston Globe op-ed by economic
researchers at Northeastern University's Center for Market
Studies: "On all key labor market measures, the state not only
lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or
near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll
employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent
below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to
the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked
third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have
ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the
Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout
the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between
2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14
percent, the third worst record in the country." [Center for
Market Studies op-ed, Boston Globe, 7/29/07]
Raises For State Government Management That Increased Risk Of
According to the Boston Globe:
"Governor Mitt Romney has quietly approved a pay increase for
2,700 managers across state government, a move that may trigger
more layoffs of lower-level workers as the state copes with its
bleakest budget in more than a decade. In a confidential memo
obtained by the Globe, Romney's human resources chief, Ruth N.
Bramson, wrote that the governor granted a 2 percent
across-the-board pay raise to managers in part because
rank-and-file workers are gaining ground on their bosses through
union-negotiated raises. The pay increase for managers, which is
retroactive to the beginning of this month, is coming on top of
2.7 percent cost-of-living increases that managers received July
1. About 2,700 managers across the state's executive branch are
receiving the additional pay raise, with the cost estimated to
approach $3.5 million." [Boston Globe,
As CEO, Romney
Profited While Thousands Of Workers Were Laid Off And Five Of
His Companies Went Bankrupt
Romney Was CEO
Of Bain Capital. From the
Throughout his 15-year
career at Bain Capital, which bought, sold, and merged
dozens of companies, Romney had other chances to fight to
save jobs, but didn't. His ultimate responsibility was to
make money for Bain's investors, former partners said.
Much as he did
when running for Massachusetts governor, Romney is now
touting his business credentials as he campaigns for
president, asserting that he helped create thousands of jobs
as CEO of Bain. [Boston Globe,
Acquired By Romney's Firm Cut Thousands Of Jobs, And Several
Ended Up In Bankruptcy.
According to Politico:
In 1992, the firm
acquired American Pad & Paper. By 1999, the year Romney
left Bain, two American plants were closed, 385 jobs had
been cut and the company was $392 million in debt.
The next year, Ampad
was forced into bankruptcy.
Bain Capital and
Goldman Sachs bought Dade International for about $450
million in 1994.
The firm quickly fired
or relocated at least 900 workers. Over the next several
years, it sunk increasingly into debt and laid off 1,000
In 2002 - after Romney
had left Bain - it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
A 1997 buyout
ofLIVE Entertainment for $150 million resulted in 40
layoffs, roughly one in four of the company's 166
The job cuts affected
all aspects of the company, from production and acquisition
to legal and public relations.
In 1997, Bain
bought a stake in DDI Corp., a maker of electronic
Three years later, Bain
took the company public and collected a $36 million payout.
But by August 2003, the
company filed for bankruptcy protection, laying off more
than 2,100 workers.
Four months after
the bankruptcy, unhappy shareholders sued company
executives, the initial public offering underwriters and
Bain for mismanaging the IPO and failing to disclose company
financial information. (Romney was not named in the suit.) [Politico,
Fortunes By Bankrupting Five Profitable Businesses."
According to the New York Post:
He was not involved in
decisions to take distributions from two Bain Capital
businesses that later failed. New York Times, June 3, 2007
"People in America want
to know who can get 15 million people back to work."
Owned a controlling
interest in Bain Capital when it took payments from five
companies that later failed.
Made fortunes by
bankrupting five profitable businesses that ended up firing
thousands of workers. [New York Post,
Businesses Under Bain Made Huge Profits But Eventually Went
According to Think Progress: "22 percent of the
money Bain Capital raised from 1987 to 1995 was invested in
five businesses - Stage Stores, American Pad & Paper, GS
Indusries, Dade, and Details. These five made Bain $578
million in profit, even as all five eventually went
bankrupt." [Think Progress,
Colleague: "They're Whitewashing His Career Now. ... We Had A
Scheme Where The Rich Got Richer."
According to the Los Angeles Times:
During Romney's tenure
at Bain Capital, outside experts say, most of the companies
he and his colleagues helped manage ended up stronger and
more profitable. Although exact figures are impossible to
obtain, more companies clearly added jobs than cut them.
Some of Romney's
colleagues recall him as vain, however, and focused only on
the bottom line. They saw him as impatient and unconcerned
about those affected by his decisions.
whitewashing his career now," said Marc B. Wolpow, a former
managing director at Bain Capital who opposes Romney's White
House bid. "We had a scheme where the rich got richer. I did
it, and I feel good about it. But I'm not planning to run
for office." [Los Angeles Times,
Romney Had "Chances To Fight To Save Jobs, But Didn't."
According to the Boston Globe: "Romney's decision to
stay on the sidelines as his firm, Bain Capital, slashed jobs at
the office supply manufacturer stands in marked contrast to his
recent pledges to beleaguered auto workers in Michigan and
textile workers in South Carolina to 'fight to save every
job.' Throughout his 15-year career at Bain Capital, which
bought, sold, and merged dozens of companies, Romney had other
chances to fight to save jobs, but didn't. His ultimate
responsibility was to make money for Bain's investors, former
partners said." [Boston Globe,
"Romney's Tenure [At Bain] Indicates That Job Growth Was Not A
According to the Boston Globe:
Much as he did when
running for Massachusetts governor, Romney is now touting
his business credentials as he campaigns for president,
asserting that he helped create thousands of jobs as CEO of
Bain. But a review of Bain's investments during Romney's
tenure indicates that job growth was not a particular
In many cases, such as
Staples Inc., the Framingham retailer, and Steel Dynamics
Inc., an Indiana steelmaker, the companies expanded and
added thousands of jobs. In other cases, such as Ampad and
GS Industries, another steelmaker, Bain-controlled companies
shuttered plants, slashed hundreds of jobs, and landed in
But in almost all
cases Bain Capital made money. In fact, the firm earned
substantially more from Ampad than Staples. Staples returned
about $13 million on a $2 million investment; Ampad yielded
more than $100 million on $5 million, according to reports
to investors. [Boston Globe,
Workers Helped Bring Down Romney's 1994 Senate Campaign
Management, Ampad Workers Were Fired, Benefits And Salaries Were
Slashed, And Strikebreakers Were Hired.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Bain Capital had bought
a controlling interest in a paper products company called
Ampad for $5 million in 1992. Two years later, after Ampad
bought a factory in Marion, Ind., the new management team
dismissed about 200 workers, slashed salaries and benefits,
and hired strikebreakers after the union called a walkout.
"We were just
fired," Randy Johnson, a former worker and union officer at
the Marion plant, recalled in a telephone interview. "They
came in and said, 'You're all fired. If you want to work for
us, here's an application.' We had insurance until the end
of the week. That was it. It was brutal." [Los Angeles
Employees Protested Romney's Unsuccessful 1994 Senate Campaign.
According to the Los
In October 1994,
[former Ampad worker Randy] Johnson and other striking
workers drove to Massachusetts to protest Romney's Senate
campaign. "We chased him everywhere," Johnson recalled. "He
took good jobs with benefits, and created low-wage,
part-time, no-benefit jobs. That's what he was creating with
At first, Romney
tried to justify the Indiana layoffs as necessary in "the
real world." He then sought to distance himself, arguing
that he took a leave of absence from Bain Capital before
Ampad bought the factory. The dispute proved potent,
however, and Kennedy trounced him in the election. [Los
Unhappy Former Ampad Employees Were "The Back-Breaker" In
Unsuccessful 1994 Senate Campaign.
According to the Huffington Post:
The back-breaker for
Romney was a series of television ads produced by Bob Shrum
(author of the book, due out shortly, No Excuses:
Concessions of a Serial Campaigner). Charlie Baker, the
Kennedy campaign's senior strategist that year, told The
Huffington Post that the ads were designed "to get on the
record all sides of Romney's business career" -- a hugely
successful leveraged-buyout practice that Romney claimed had
campaign discovered that Ampad, a company purchased by
Romney's Bain Capital in 1992, had recently bought SCM, an
office products company in Marion, Indiana. All 350 workers
at the SCM plant were laid off, then offered their jobs back
at reduced wages. They went on strike. The Kennedy campaign
sent a crew to Marion to film the workers. A half dozen ads
resulted from the interviews, most of them quoting workers
denouncing Romney for lining his pockets at their expense. A
women [sic] tells viewers: "I'd like to say to the
people of Massachusetts, if you think it can't happen to
you, think again, because we thought it couldn't happen here
either." Romney nosedived in the polls. [Huffington Post,
Romney On Ampad
Layoffs: "Sometimes The Medicine Is A Little Bitter."
According to the New York Times:
But leveraged buyouts
often lead to layoffs, a business reality that has impinged
on Mr. Romney's political hopes at least once before. In his
1994 campaign for the Senate, Mr. Romney's efforts to unseat
Edward M. Kennedy were derailed in part because of
accusations that Bain Capital had fired union workers at an
Indiana company it controlled. Mr. Kennedy's campaign cut a
series of commercials, focusing on laid-off workers, that
cut to the quick. (Those ads are available on The Huffington
Post.) Mr. Romney has said that he had nothing to do with
In an interview with
The Times, Mr. Romney acknowledged that Bain Capital's
acquisitions has sometimes led to layoffs, but that he could
explain them to voters.
medicine is a little bitter but it is necessary to save the
life of the patient," he said. "My job was to try and make
the enterprise successful, and in my view the best security
a family can have is that the business they work for is
strong." [New York Times,
On Fox News Sunday,
NPR's Mara Liasson claimed job creation is Mitt Romney's
"brand," adding that "this is his issue ... and I think
that that really helps him." But as governor of
Massachusetts, "Romney presided over one of the puniest
rates of employment growth among the 50 U.S. states, at
a time the nation's economy was booming," according to
On Romney: "Job creation is his brand."
From the June 5 edition of Fox News Sunday:
was a pretty good week for Mitt Romney to announce.
Job creation is his brand. He's the turnaround
artist. He can say that he's created jobs. Democrats
will point out he also shed some when he took over
these companies, but this is his --
(Center for American Program CEO and president):
Shipped them overseas.
shipped them overseas. This is his issue and that's
what this election is becoming about with a
vengeance and I think that that really helps him.
[Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday,
"Romney Presided Over One Of The Puniest Rates Of
Employment Growth ... At A Time When The Nation's
Economy Was Booming." From an April 12
his experience as head of private equity firm Bain
Capital when he announced on Monday he was forming
an exploratory committee on seeking the Republican
2012 nomination to challenge Obama, a Democrat.
He made a
fortune wheeling and dealing in companies, some of
which endured big job cuts as part of restructuring.
Some ultimately went bankrupt.
Massachusetts governor from January 2003 to January
2007, Romney presided over one of the puniest rates
of employment growth among the 50 U.S. states, at a
time the nation's economy was booming.
Department figures showed Massachusetts ranked 47th
among the states in the rate of jobs growth in those
four years -- ahead of only Ohio, Michigan and
Brett Arends: Mass. Job Growth "Badly Lagged Other
High-Skill, High-Wage, Knowledge Economy States."
According to a February 2010 MarketWatch article by
Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Arends:
Romney, who may
well be President Barack Obama's opponent in 2012,
he had great time last week blaming the president
for the current jobs shortage.
Speaking to the
CPAC right-wing conference in Washington, D.C.,
Romney said that the dismal employment situation, a
year after Obama took office, showed the president
was a "failure" who was "going downhill faster
than... Lindsey Vonn."
OK, let's take
him at his word. Then what does that say about
contender was the governor of Massachusetts from
January 2003 to January 2007. And during that time,
according to the U.S. Labor Department, the state
ranked 47th in the entire country in jobs growth.
Fourth from last.
The only ones
that did worse? Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana. In
other words, two rustbelt states and another that
lost its biggest city to a hurricane.
Massachusetts jobs growth over that period, a
pitiful 0.9%, badly lagged other high-skill,
high-wage, knowledge economy states like New York
(2.7%), California (4.7%) and North Carolina (7.6%).
average: More than 5%.
This was after
four years. So far Obama has been in office for just
one year. How was Romney's performance by his first
Fiftieth out of
In Romney's first year in charge, Massachusetts
ranked dead last in America in jobs growth. [MarketWatch,
"Romney's job record provides little to boast about."
In January 2008, FactCheck.org examined
Romney's claim that Massachusetts gained jobs "every
single month" when he was governor and concluded:
Payroll jobs in
Massachusetts hit their low point in December 2003
at the end of Romney's first year in office. And the
number of jobs declined in seven of the remaining 36
months of his term, as measured by total nonfarm
employment, seasonally adjusted, which is the
standard measure of payroll employment used by
economists and journalists. The claim that jobs
increased "every single month" is false.
Romney's job record provides little to boast about.
By the end of his four years in office,
Massachusetts had squeezed out a net gain in payroll
jobs of just 1 percent, compared with job growth of
5.3 percent for the nation as a whole. [FactCheck.org,
Andrew Sum: Wages Also "Stagnated During Romney's Term."
From a June 2008 Reuters report:
Massachusetts governor issued a statement on Sunday
titled "creating jobs" that focuses on 57,600 jobs
added to the Massachusetts economy during his single
term as governor from 2003 to 2007.
Northeastern University economist Andrew Sum, who
has researched Romney's record, said the state
lagged the U.S. average during that period in job
creation, economic growth and wage increases.
"As a strict
labor market economist looking at the record,
Massachusetts did very poorly during the Romney
years, he said. "On every measure you've got, the
state was a substantial under-performer."
contend the state's job market was soft long before
Romney's term, which ended in January last year,
blaming a Democratic-controlled Legislature for the
weakness. His spokesman, Kevin Madden, has asserted
that Romney brought Massachusetts "back from the
brink of financial disaster."
Northeastern's Sum said that while jobs were created
under Romney, the rate was the third-lowest in the
nation after Hurricane Katrina-hit Louisiana and
Michigan. At the same time, wages in the New England
state stagnated during Romney's term.
weekly wage of Massachusetts workers, Sum said, rose
by just a $1 between 2001 and 2006 after adjusting
for inflation, while the state had the third-highest
rate of population loss in the nation between July
2002 and July 2006.
Real output of
goods and services -- a broad measure of economic
performance -- grew 9 percent, below the 13 percent
rate for the United States, he added. [Reuters,
staff is trying to
do damage control after the presidential aspirant
criticizing President Barack Obama during a stop in New Hampshire on
Speaking at a dinner hosted by
Americans for Prosperity, the former Massachusetts governor said,
"Reagan came up with this great thing about the ‘misery index’ and he
hung that around Jimmy Carter’s neck and that had a lot to do with Jimmy
Carter losing." He added, "Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama
Misery Index’ around his neck."
Romney went on to say, "I'll tell
you, the fact that you've got people in this country really squeezed,
with gasoline getting so expensive, with commodities getting so
expensive, families are having a hard time making ends meet. So, we're
going to have to talk about that, and housing foreclosures and
bankruptcies and higher taxation. We're going to hang him, so to speak,
Romney almost immediately caught
himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking,
but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least
some in the audience realized its potency.
On the heels of the potential
presidential candidate raising eyebrows with the remarks, Romney
spokeswoman Andrea Saul addressed the questionable choice of words. She
told ABC News,
"It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he
According to CNN,
Romney's camp called initial reports on his remarks "a ridiculous
exaggeration of his actual comments."
Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, and other top
Republican presidential contenders denounce Democrats as immoral tax
hikers—but they oversaw dozens of tax hikes as governors facing
deficits, writes Andrew Romano.
The GOP's most promising 2012
Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels,
a lot in common. They are all white. They are all middle-aged. They were
all governors at one point. And despite a shared tendency to denounce
Democrats as inveterate, immoral tax hikers, they all have the exact
same skeleton in their closet: a rather inconvenient history of raising
Surprised? It's no wonder. Until
now, Romney & Co. have done a good job of hiding their tax-raising
records from the rest of the Republican Party—with good reason. In a
perfect world, according to GOP orthodoxy, taxes would always be lower
than they are right now, no matter how low they currently happen to be.
In 2009, for example, U.S. taxes shrank to their smallest share of
personal income since 1950. Conservatives still complained. And in the
unlikely instance that taxes cannot possibly be reduced any
further—like, say, when revenue plummets to a record-low 14.9 percent of
GDP, which is where they are today—right-thinking Republicans are
required to do the next best thing: Refuse, at all costs, to raise them.
The 2012 budget blueprint
that Wisconsin Rep.
unveiled this month is only the latest example of the GOP's taxophobia.
Ryan claims the purpose of the proposal is to eradicate the national
debt. But his "Path to Prosperity" puts America an extra $4 trillion in
the hole before it even attempts to accomplish this worthy goal. How? By
slashing taxes for the wealthiest Americans—forever. As a result, the
rest of Ryan's cuts—to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the FBI,
highways, environmental protection, the Coast Guard, and so on—are
trillions of dollars larger than they'd otherwise have to be. The
message is clear, if contradictory: For Republicans, the only thing more
important than reducing the deficit is increasing it—via massive tax
Which is why it's so curious
that all the party's would-be standard-bearers did precisely the
opposite when they were actually tasked with balancing a budget. Some,
like Daniels, raised taxes in a relatively straightforward manner. When
the former Office of Management and Budget director took control of
Indiana in 2005, the state was $200 million in the hole. Digging out was
his first priority—and
one of his first proposals was a sizable tax hike
on all individuals and entities earning over $100,000. The legislature
blocked the plan, but Daniels eventually passed a handful of new taxes:
one on liquor, one on rental cars, and one that increased the state
sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Indiana soon had a $1.3 billion
the only thing more important than reducing the deficit is increasing
it—via massive tax cuts.
When it comes to fiscal
discipline, Daniels doesn't think tax hikes should be the first option,
or even the second or third. But he does believe that they should always
be an option. When I asked the governor last summer how he'd tackle the
national debt as president, for example, he
admitted that "at
some stage there could well be a tax increase." A few months later, he
confessed that he
would consider both a European-style value added tax (VAT) and a tariff
on imported oil as potential sources of government revenue. "They say we
can't have grownup conversations anymore," he told me. "I think we can."
Daniels' openness is
admirable. But he's pretty much the only Republican contender who's
willing to own up to the fact that he raised taxes. During Mike
Huckabee's time as governor of Arkansas, for instance, he transformed a
$200 million budget shortfall into an $844 million surplus. One of the
ways he accomplished that nifty feat was with
targeted tax hikes:
a 3 percent income-tax surcharge on individuals and corporations; three
separate hikes on the state sales tax; several new tax increases on
cigarettes, tobacco, and related permits; a 3 percent tax on beer; a 4
percent tax on mixed drinks; a 3- to 4-cent tax per gallon of gas; and a
$6 increase to the driver's-license fee.
But when Huckabee ran for
president in 2008, he insisted that he had cut taxes more than he raised
them; he suggested that the legislature or the state Supreme Court had
forced his hand; and he swore that he hadn't actually signed some of the
tax increases he was accused of signing. In truth, Huckabee's tax
outweighed his tax cuts by nearly $500 million.
He once begged the legislature for every imaginable kind of tax hike—without
any coercion. And he did, in fact,
affix his Hancock
to the tax increases in question. Huck had good reason to squirm, in
other words—at least during primary season
Romney was just as slippery. On
the surface, the former Massachusetts governor's fiscal record looks a lot
like Huckabee's: He inherited a $650 million shortfall (with a $3 billion
projected deficit), then turned it into a $600 to $700 million surplus by
the time he left office. To do so, Romney also made a concerted effort to
increase tax revenue, in part by
raising fees by a grand total of $432 million
on marriage licenses, driver's license renewals, gun permits,
community-college tuitions, deed registrations, Children's Medical Security
Program co-pays and premiums, probation services, deliveries of petroleum
products, bottle deposits, mortgage-broker licenses, and civil-service
exams, and in part by closing $309 million in corporate tax loopholes. (He
also raised the sales tax on used cars.)
The big difference between Romney
and Huckabee is that Huckabee tried to rewrite his tax history. Romney
didn't. He simply
claimed, in vintage
Mitt Romney fashion, that none of his revenue-increasing proposals actually
counted as tax hikes. "We faced a huge budget gap, but I recognize that
raising taxes could lead to a slowdown in our economy," he
said in 2007. "So we
didn't do it." Unfortunately, Massachusetts's largest business lobbying
disagreed" with Romney's assessment. "These
certainly were tax increases and a new source of revenue for the
commonwealth," said Brian Gilmore, executive vice president of Associated
Industries of Massachusetts. "His indicating that he balanced a budget
without raising taxes is misleading at best."
Although neither has yet had to
defend his résumé on the national stage, Pawlenty and Barbour are likely to
follow a similar path in 2012. Appearing at the Conservative Political
Action Conference in February,
Pawlenty told his
fellow Republicans that "the naysayers say ‘we can't cut spending; we can't
prioritize; we have to raise taxes.' I drew a line in the sand and said,
‘Absolutely not. We're going to live within our means just like families,
just like businesses, just like everybody else.'" He delivered a similar
message at a pair of Tea Party Tax Day rallies
last week. The
problem, sadly, is that state and local taxes increased for 90 percent of
Minnesotans on Pawlenty's watch,
according to local observers.
Some of those increases, like a $200 million tax hike on cigarette consumers
in 2005, a $109 million corporate tax hike in 2008, and various fee hikes on
parking tickets, marriage licenses, building permits, court cases, and
college tuition, were backed or allowed by Pawlenty. Others, like a $2.7
billion (or 53.8 percent)
increase in property taxes
from 2003 to 2008, stemmed from the governor's policies. "In constant 2010
dollars, state aid to local governments has fallen by $2.6 billion since
policy analyst Jeff Van Wychen. "In response, local governments have
increased property taxes." (Daniels and Romney also shifted the tax burden
from state to local government by slashing aid.)
Barbour, meanwhile, is starting
to sound a lot like Huckabee, his former neighbor to the northwest. In a
speech last month to
the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi governor accused Obama
of "call(ing) for record tax increases" and claimed that his own
record—filling a $720 million budget deficit in two years without raising
taxes—represented a counterpoint to Obama's failures. But although Barbour's
accomplishments are admirable—they came at a time when post-Katrina federal
aid had dwindled and recession-era unemployment was hovering near 20 percent
in some parts of Mississippi—it's simply wrong to suggest that they didn't
involve tax hikes. As the libertarian Cato Institute
noted in 2010 when it
awarded Barbour a "C" for his tax policies, the governor reinstated a
hospital-bed tax in 2008 to help fund Medicaid and approved a 50-cent
cigarette tax the following year.
The math is simple. Five
potential Republican presidential nominees. Dozens of tax hikes. The point
here, however, is not to play "gotcha," although it will be worthwhile to
keep these numbers in mind when Romney & Co. inevitably begin to attack
Obama on taxes. (For the record, Obama's tax record is mixed as well:
According to Politifact,
the president "raised taxes on cigarettes and indoor tanning, and the
health-care law includes a tax penalty on the uninsured... [and] new taxes
on the wealthy," but he also
lightened the tax burden
for more than 80 percent of Americans by changing withholding rates and
reducing payroll taxes by
The point isn't even that Romney,
Barbour, Daniels, Pawlenty, and Huckabee have done something wrong. In fact,
quite the opposite. In the months ahead, as the great deficit debate takes
shape and the 2012 campaign begins in earnest, voters should remember the
reality of Republicans and taxes: that even the politicians now vying to
lead the most taxophobic party in U.S. history decided to implement tax
hikes when they actually had to balance a budget. It's some of the strongest
evidence yet that we can't afford to take any budget-balancing options off
the table—even if the people who provided it would like to pretend
Excerpted from an article by John Dickerson, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007In the authenticity contest underway among the GOP
presidential candidates, Mitt Romney recently boasted he was from "the Republican wing of the
Republican party." You won't find that line in Reagan's diaries or the new Barry
Goldwater film or even mumbled on the Nixon tapes. Romney was quoting Democrats. Sen. Paul Wellstone
popularized the quip when talking about his party, and Howard
Dean made it famous in the 2004 Democratic primary campaign. Republicans are allowed
to quote only one liberalJohn Kennedyand then only when talking about the benefits of tax cuts. But Romney's appropriation of
a legendary claim from the other party was perfect for the former Massachusetts governor
who, despite repeatedly asserting that he is the authentic conservative in the race, is
viewed by many as neither conservative nor authentic.
Mitt Romney has often undermined himself during the presidential campaign.
Even as he has asserted that he is anti-abortion, he has been dogged by video clips
and statements from his 1994 Senate and 2002gubernatorialcampaigns, in which he robustly defended a woman's right to have an
abortion. On several other subjects there also seem to be two stories: gun control (for/against); gays (their champion/not somuch); and even Ronald Reagan himself (distance/hug). The individual changes of position have caused minor irritation
for him. The cumulative effect of them all is the big problem. Taken together, they
suggest, as a nonaffiliated veteran of Republican politics put it, "that he has no
Mitt Romney's biggest problem was supposed to be his
Mormon faith, but the polls don't show iteither in Iowa or nationally. These data could reflect the fact that on sensitive issues
such as race and religion, people don't want to give a pollster an answer that makes them
sound like a bigot. But if large numbers were truly concerned about Romney's religion,
they'd pick someone else when asked who they want to be president, and Romney wouldn't be
ahead in Iowa
Hampshire polls and climbing in South Carolina.
But ask voters about Romney's flip-flops, and they speak
out loud. In a recent Des Moines Registerpoll, likely caucus attendees listed Romney's multiple positions as
his biggest liabilityon par with Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice stance on abortion. In a
Pew Center poll, only 12 percent of respondents thought of Mitt Romney when the
word honest was presented to them, the lowest of the four major Republican
candidates. A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that only 13 percent of Republicans find Mitt Romney
honest and trustworthy, also the lowest of the four major Republican candidates. A
CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 15 percent of adults found Mitt Romney to be the most
honestagain, the bottom of the field.
Like all of the big questions that dog the candidates,
this problem has been with Romney for a whileeven before the presidential race.
"He's not pro-choice or anti-choice," said Senate opponent Ted Kennedy in 1994.
"He's multiple choice." Romney hasn't been able to dispense with questions about
his constancy, and the concerns are only becoming more relevant as Republicans fight over
which candidate is a more genuine conservative.
As John Kerry learned painfully in 2004, calling someone
a phony works, no matter the topic under discussion. John McCain was the first opponent to
raise the issue during a debate with Romney about immigration. "I haven't changed my
position on even numbered years or because of the different offices I've been running
for," McCain said.
In the last week, McCain has issued the same charge again and again. In a GOP debate last week, Rudy Giuliani ended an exchange with
Romney over the line-item veto by saying, "You have to be honest with people, and you
can't fool all the people all the time.
Newt Ad Hits Romney on
Atlanta, Ga. - Newt 2012
released a new ad today documenting Governor Romney's
pro-abortion record as Governor of Massachusetts, despite his
claim that he had changed his position from pro-choice to
The ad, titled "Changed?" began airing throughout South Carolina
Tuesday, and will remind voters that Mitt Romney is a man of
politics not principles, and despite his efforts to label
himself a conservative, he is a Massachusetts moderate who
cannot be trusted.
The audio portion of the ad reads as follows:
"What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed
his position from pro-abortion to pro-life?" a female narrator
asks as a picture of an unhappy-looking Romney fills the screen
and spooky music plays. "He governed pro-abortion."
"Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to
abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board
but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board. And Romney
signed government-mandated health care with taxpayer-funded
abortions. Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney: He can't be
GovWatch: 2002: “preserve & protect” right to choose
Top Romney Flip Flops: #1. Abortion:
In October 2002, campaigning for
governorship of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said he would “preserve and
protect” a woman’s right to choose. He now describes himself as opposing
Supreme Court had said feds should stay out of abortion
Q: Why such a dramatic and profound change after pledging never to waiver on
a woman’s right to choose?
A: I was always personally opposed to abortion,
as I think almost everyone in this nation is. And the question for me was,
what is the role of government? And it was quite theoretical and
philosophical to consider what the role of government should be in this
regard, and I felt that the Supreme Court had spoken and that government
shouldn’t be involved and let people make their own decision. That all made
a lot of sense to me. Then I became governor and the theoretical became
reality. A bill came to my desk which related to the preservation of life. I
recognized that I simply could not be part of an effort that would cause the
destruction of human lift. And I didn’t hide from that change of heart. I
recognize it’s a change. Every piece of legislation which came to my desk in
the coming years as the governor, I came down on the side of preserving the
sanctity of life.
I took action as governor to preserve the sanctity of life
Q: Do you believe life begins at conception?
A: I do. I believe from a
political perspective that life begins at conception. I don’t pretend to
know, if you will, from a theological standpoint when life begins. I’d
committed to the people of Massachusetts that I would not change the laws
one way or the other, and I honored that commitment. But each law that was
brought to my desk attempted to expand abortion rights and, in each case, I
vetoed that effort. I also promoted abstinence education in our schools. I
vetoed an effort, for instance, to give young women a morning after pill who
did not have prescriptions. So I took action to preserve the sanctity of
life. But I did not violate my word, of course.
No punishment for women who have partial birth abortions
Q: What would be the legal consequences to people who participated in
A: They would be like the consequences associated with
the bill relating to partial birth abortion which does not punish the woman.
No one I know of is calling for punishing the woman. In the case of a
doctor, the kinds of penalties would be potentially losing a license or
having some other kind of restriction. In the case of partial birth
abortion, as I recall, the penalty is a possible prison term not to exceed
two years. But generally the medical profession would immediately follow the
law. That’s not going to be an issue. And there would be a recognition that
one’s license was at risk if one violated the law.
Outlaw embryo farming, but allow using surplus embryos
Q: You previously stated: “[the] United States House of Representatives
voted for a bill that was identical to what I proposed. They voted to
provide surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization processes being used for
research and experimentation. That’s what I said I support.” Do you still
A: I have the same position. From a legal standpoint, I
would outlaw cloning to create new stem cells and I would outlaw embryo
farming. I would allow, on a private basis, the use of surplus embryos from
in vitro fertilization. In terms of funding, I think the best source of our
funding application should be in what are known as alternative methods. And
this just recent. I’ve been fighting for this for some time. But this
recently saw a major breakthrough with direct reprogramming of human adult
cells to become stem cells that can be very potent cells applied to help
cure disease and serious conditions.
FactCheck: TV ad ignores recency of conversion to pro-life
Romney’s Iowa TV ad says portrays both Romney and Huckabee as “two good
family men” who are “both pro-life.” The ad presents a too-sharp focus when
it implies that Romney and Huckabee have identical records on abortion.
It’s true that both Huckabee and Romney oppose abortion--now. But Huckabee
was pro-life while he was governor. Romney, not so much. Don’t take our word
for it. Here’s Romney at a September debate in Iowa: “I never said I was
pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I’ve said that time
and time again. I’ve changed my position.“
We don’t begrudge Romney the right to change his mind, and he’s been open
about the fact that his position has changed. But many Iowa voters may still
be unaware of that, and this ad implies that there’s no difference between
these two candidates on abortion. That’s a stretch.
I was effectively pro-choice when I ran for office. When I became governor
of Massachusetts, the first time a bill came to my life that dealt with
life, I simply could not side with--with taking a life, and I came on the
side of life. Every bill that came to my desk, every issue that related to
protecting the sanctity of life, I came down on the side of life. I’m
pro-life. I’m not going to apologize for becoming pro-life. I’m proud to be
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register
Republican Debate Dec 12, 2007
Would be delighted to sign federal ban on all abortions
Q: If hypothetically, Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a
federal ban on all abortions and it came to your desk, would you sign it?
A: Let me say it. I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where
we are. That’s not where America is today. Where America is is ready to
overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the
Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country, terrific.
Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St.
Petersburg, Florida Nov 28, 2007
Two-step process: overturn Roe; then change hearts & minds
Q: Your aides say you see ending abortion as a two-step process: rolling
back Roe v. Wade, which would leave it legal in some states; and then a
constitutional amendment to ban it nationwide. If abortion is murder, how
can you live with it being legal in some states?
A: I’d love to have an
America that didn’t have abortion. But that’s not what the American people
[want] right now. And so I’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and allow
the states to put in place pro-life legislation. I recognize that for many
people, that is considered an act of murder, to have an abortion. It is
without question the taking of a human life. And I believe that a civilized
society must respect the sanctity of the human life. But we have two lives
involved here--a mom, an unborn child. We have to have concern for both
lives & show the expression of our compassion & our consideration and work
to change hearts & minds, and that’s the way in my view we’ll ultimately
have a society without abortion.
2005: Vetoed availability without Rx of morning-after pill
In 2005, Romney vetoed a bill making the morning-after pill available
without a doctor’s prescription. For Romney, it was not only about
contraception. He explained his decision in July 2005: “This bill does not
require parental consent for even young teenagers. It disregards not only
the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement.”
These vetoes were overturned by the Massachusetts State Legislature where
pro-choice Democrats hold an overwhelming majority.
Source: The Man, His Values, & His
Vision, p. 52 Aug 31, 2007
Firmly in the “legal but rare” camp
According to Pew Research on abortion, “most Americans fall in between,
preferring what might be described as a ‘legal but rare’ stance.” About 1/3
of Americans would make abortion illegal except in cases of rape or incest,
or to save a woman’s life. Most Americans share the common ground. Who wants
abortion to be legal but rare?
64% of conservative Republicans
66% of moderate/liberal Republicans
59% of Moderate/conservative Democrats
52% of Independents
27% of Liberal Democrats--they don’t want to compromise.
Mitt Romney is firmly in the “legal but rare camp” camp. Like 2/3 of
conservative Republicans, he believes abortion should be permitted in cases
of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is threatened.
changed his mind on abortion. He freely admits it. Ordinary citizens change
their minds, and their positions evolve in private. For public figures,
however, every video clip and interview is posted somewhere in cyberspace.
Following in Reagan’s footsteps in converting to pro-life
Q: In the debate last week, you said, “When I first ran for office [I was]
deeply opposed to abortion but [I said] I’d support the current law.” But
back then you said a lot more than just you support the current law. In
1994, you said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this
country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years that
we should sustain & support it.” In 2002, you said, “I will preserve and
protect a woman’s right to choose. I will not change any provisions of
Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.“ For 8 years you said that you would protect
& respect a woman’s right to choose.
Q: Yes, that’s right. But when I
became governor I laid out in my view that a civilized society must respect
the sanctity of life. And you know what? I’m following in some pretty good
footsteps. It’s exactly what Ronald Reagan did. As governor, he was
adamantly pro-choice. He became pro-life as he experienced life. And the
same thing happened with George H. W. Bush.
Q: [to Brownback]: Your campaign has been making phone calls to Iowa voters
about Mitt Romney:
ANNOUNCER: Mitt Romney is telling Iowans that he is firmly pro-life.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As late as 2005, Mitt Romney
pledged to support and uphold pro-abortion policies and pass taxpayer
funding of abortions in Massachusetts. His wife, Ann, has contributed
money to Planned Parenthood. Mitt told the National Abortion Rights
Action League that, “You need someone like me in Washington.“
Q: Do you stand by that attack?
BROWNBACK: I certainly do. There’s one
word that describes that ad, and it’s ”truthful.“ That’s a truthful ad. And
that’s what campaigns are about: for getting the truth out, expressing the
differences between candidates.
Q: Is everything in that ad true?
ROMNEY: Virtually nothing in that ad is true. I am pro-life. That’s the
truth. Every action I’ve taken as governor of Massachusetts has been
Tired of holier-than-thou attitude about becoming pro-life
Q: [to Romney]: Are any of the specifics true in Sen. Brownback’s phone ad
calling you pro-choice?
ROMNEY: Abortion is a very difficult decision.
We’re involved in the lives of two people: a mom and an unborn child. I’ve
come down on the side of saying I’m in favor of life. The best way you can
learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them, “What do
you believe, and what’s your view?” And I am pro-life. And virtually every
part of that ad is inaccurate. I’m pro-life. My positions are pro-life.
BROWNBACK: You can go on YouTube and see the governor speaking himself
about where he is on this position in 1994.
ROMNEY: Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube
and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my
position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position. And I get tired
of people that are holier-than-thou because they’ve been pro-life longer
than I have. But I’m proud of the fact.
Absolute good day for America when Roe v. Wade is repealed
Q: Would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for America?
BROWNBACK: It would be a glorious day of human liberty and freedom.
GILMORE: Yes, it was wrongly decided.
HUCKABEE: Most certainly.
McCAIN: A repeal.
GIULIANI: It would be OK to repeal.
TANCREDO: After 40 million dead because we have aborted them in this
country, that would be the greatest day in this country’s history when that,
in fact, is overturned.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at
Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007
Personally pro-life, but government should not intrude
Q: In recent months, you’ve said you were “always for life,” but we’ve also
heard you say you were once “effectively pro-choice.” Which is it?
always been personally pro-life, but for me, it was a great question about
whether or not government should intrude in that decision. And when I ran
for office, I said I’d protect the law as it was, which is effectively a
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at
Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007
Was effectively pro-choice until cloning changed his opinion
Q: You were effectively pro-choice as governor?
A: About two years ago,
when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too
far. It’s a “brave new world” mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I
changed my mind. I took the same course that Ronald Reagan took, and I said
I was wrong and changed my mind and said I’m pro-life. And I’m proud of
that, and I won’t apologize to anybody for becoming pro-life.
Q: Some people are going to see those changes of mind as awfully
A: When I ran for the first time, I said I was personally pro-life but
that I would protect a woman’s right to choose as the law existed. Two years
ago, as a result of the debate we had, the conclusion I reached was that
cloning and creating new embryos was wrong, and that we should, therefore,
allow our state to become a pro-life state. I believe states should have the
right to make this decision, and that’s a position I indicated in an op-ed
in the Boston Globe 2 years ago.
Altered nuclear transfer instead of embryonic stem cells
Q: Would you expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?
certainly will. Altered nuclear transfer, I think, is perhaps the best
A: Altered nuclear transfer creates embryo-like cells that can be used
for stem cell research. In my view, that’s the most promising source. I have
a deep concern about curing disease. I have a wife that has a serious
disease that could be affected by stem cell research and others. But I will
not create new embryos through cloning or through embryo farming, because
that will be creating life for the purpose of destroying it.
Q: And you won’t take any from these fertility clinics to use either?
A: It’s fine for that to be allowed, to be legal. I won’t use our
government funds for that. Instead, I want our governments to be used on
altered nuclear transfer.
Breach of Constitution for justices to adjust Constitution
Romney said this about the Supreme Court and potential justice nominees: “I
believe the Constitution embodies the values that the Founders thought were
critical for a successful nation to survive; therefore, justices have to
hold true to the Constitution to maintain the foundation of values that made
it successful. I want justices who will follow the Constitution & will not
add to it, not subtract from it but instead look to the Constitution & the
values of the Founders to set the course for the nation. We have a process
for changing the Constitution. It is an amendment process. The people are
very much involved in that process. I find it a breach of the constitutional
path for justices to effectively change the Constitution rather than allow
the constitutionally devised processes for making those adjustments occur. I
thought both Justices Robert and Alito were ideal examples for what we
should select for justices going forward. I know I depart from my liberal
friends on this front.“
Now firmly pro-life, despite 2002 tolerance for abortion
In New Hampshire on Thursday, he deflected conservative concerns about his
record on gay marriage and abortion. He said he now describes himself as
“firmly pro-life,” despite citing his tolerance for abortion rights during
his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, after researching the embryonic stem cell
Source: CNN.com, “Inside Politics” Dec
Anti-abortion views have “evolved & deepened” while governor
When he ran for governor in 2002, Romney pledged not to change the state’s
abortion laws, despite his personal opposition. But his veto Monday of an
emergency contraceptives bill & his comments in recent months have fueled
speculation among critics that Romney is hardening his opposition to
abortion and other sensitive social issues to gain support from GOP
conservatives. Romney says his anti-abortion views have “evolved and
deepened” since he took office, colored in part by the debate over embryonic
stem cell research.
“In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw
where the harsh logic of abortion can lead--to the view of innocent new life
as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited,”
Romney wrote in an opinion piece in Tuesday’s Boston Globe. He also said he
believes each state should decide whether to allow abortion, rather than
having the “one size fits all” precedent of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973
Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
Source: Associated Press on NewsMax.com
Jul 27, 2005
Personally against abortion, but pro-choice as governor
Romney was asked to clarify his position on abortion. Romney’s stance
appeared to have changed between his 1994 campaign against Sen. Kennedy and
when he moved to Utah. He recently told a Salt Lake City newspaper that he
preferred not to be labeled “pro- choice.”
“On a personal basis, I don’t
favor abortion,” he said. “However, as governor of the commonwealth, I will
protect a woman’s right to choose under the laws of the country and the
commonwealth. That’s the same position I’ve had for many years.”
Source: Erik Arvidson, Lowell Sun Mar
For safe, legal abortion since relative’s death from illegal
Romney disclosed that he became committed to legalized abortion after a
relative died during an illegal abortion. The disclosure came after Romney,
who said he is personally opposed to abortion, was asked to reconcile his
beliefs with his political support for abortion rights. “It is since that
time that my family will not force our beliefs on that matter,” He said the
abortion made him see “that regardless of one’s beliefs about choice, you
would hope it would be safe and legal.”
Source: Joe Battenfeld in Boston Herald
Oct 26, 1994
Stem cell research lofty goals don’t justify destroying life
Romney adopted the “pro-life” label after his battle over stem cell
research. Ann Romney has multiple sclerosis. Romney, who not surprisingly
cites the diagnosis of his wife’s disease as one of the greatest blows of
his life, is nevertheless alarmed by the aggressive program of embryonic
stem cell research consortiums. He has taken a stand against the Harvard
Stem Cell Institute.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute was seeking legal
protection for an embryo production line for the purpose of creating and
harvesting stem cells, and Romney refused his support. He said, “Lofty goals
do not justify the creation of life for experimentation or destruction.”
Romney’s views would permit for research the use of embryos about to be
destroyed by their parents; this puts him at odds with President Bush’s more
restrictive position. Romney has never supported state-funded research on
embryonic stem cells, and is a believer in the efficacy of alternative
methods of producing stem cells.
Defining mistake: supported abortion law despite opposing it
Q: What is the defining mistake of your life and why?
A: Probably from a
political standpoint and a personal standpoint, the greatest mistake was
when I first ran for office, being deeply opposed to abortion but saying, “I
support the current law,” which was pro-choice and effectively a pro-choice
position. That was just wrong. And when I became a governor and faced a
life-and-death decision as a governor, I came down on the side of life. That
was a mistake before that.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate
Aug 5, 2007
Would welcome overturning Roe v. Wade
Q: Would you welcome the overruling of Roe v. Wade by the Court?
A: Yes. I
would like to see each state be able to make its own decision regarding
abortion rather than have a one-size-fits-all blanket pronouncement by the
Q: Would you have a “litmus test” of any sort when it came to nominees
for the Supreme Court?
A: I think we’d all like to apply a litmus test. Each of us would like to
say, “Here are all the decisions that are going to come up. How will you
vote?” But I don’t think that’s the process that you’re going to see
employed by me or, frankly, by others as well. Doing it that way would make
it very difficult for the nominee to be confirmed. There will not be a
litmus test. Instead, there will be a philosophical test, which is: “Is this
a person who follows the law, who abides by the Constitution, who will
strictly construe the Constitution as intended, or is this a person who
looks to expand upon the Constitution to ‘write’ laws without the benefit of
Committed to not change law on abortion as Gov., and did not
The pro-life community is sophisticated and educated, and quite capable of
understanding how a pro-life politician in Massachusetts has to advocate for
the possible, and must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.
“I am pro-life,” Romney told me pointedly. He went on to explain how his
campaigns have provided fodder for his 2008 opponents. “In my 1994 debate
with Senator Kennedy he said that I was ‘multiple choice’ for which he got a
good laugh because I would not say I was pro-choice. I said what I would do
if I were elected senator, the same thing I said when I was running for
governor. As governor, I indicated that I would not change the law as it
related to abortion. I would keep it the same. I have had roughly four
provisions that have reached my desk which would have changed the laws as
they relate to abortion, all of which would have expanded abortion rights. I
vetoed each of those. My record as governor has been very clearly a pro-life
Opposes Roe v Wade, but won’t tamper with abortion laws
Opposes Roe v. Wade.
Believes that abortion should be banned in all cases except rape,
incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Vetoed an emergency contraception bill in July 2005.
However: Has kept campaign promise not to tamper with state abortion
Said in 1994: “I had a dear, close family relative that was very
close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. We will not force
our beliefs on others. And you will not see me wavering on that.”
Source: CivilLiberty.about.com profile
of Romney Dec 1, 2006
Vetoed emergency contraception for rape victims
Massachusetts’ Legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Romney’s first
term as governor barely touched on the issues dear to social conservatives
In May, Romney vetoed legislation to expand stem cell research because it
allowed the cloning of human embryos for use in stem cell experiments--a
practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it. The
Legislature overrode the veto.
His veto of the emergency contraception measure is also likely to be
overridden. That bill requires hospital emergency room doctors to offer the
medication to rape victims, and would make it available without prescription
Romney is on a list of possible contenders for the White House in 2008.
Others include Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Sam
Brownback of Kansas and George Allen of Virginia, Senate Majority Leader
Bill Frist of Tennessee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former New
York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Source: Associated Press on NewsMax.com
Jul 27, 2005
Vetoed stem cell research bill
This House vote affirmed passage of the bill supporting stem cell research
as originally passed by the House and Senate, rejecting Governor Romney’s
proposed amendments and veto, and avoiding delays of implementation.
Source: MassScorecard.org Bill S. 2039 ;
roll call 69, passed 112-42 May 31, 2005
Endorsed legalization of RU-486
Favored basic Roe v. Wade abortion rights, though would not endorse
a specific version of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify
those court-established rights as federal law
Said he would leave the matter of Medicaid funding for abortion to
Endorsed legalization of RU-486, the abortion-inducing drug.
Source: Boston Globe review of 1994
campaign issues Mar 21, 2002
Click here for definitions & background information on
Mitt Romney keeps his South
Carolina headquarters in a single-story building at one end of Gervais Street, which is
Columbias version of Washingtons K Street, lined with the offices of local
lobbyists, P.R. consultants, and other fixers and power brokers. The main room of Romney
HQ is decorated with hand-painted red-and-blue signs, mementos from previous campaign
events: mitt is my hero! mitts the man! mitts my pick! I visited on a steamy
Monday night in late July, a time of year when few South Carolinians are interested in
politics and fewer still want their evening interrupted by pitches for a presidential
primary six months away. But eleven volunteers, mostly college students, were hunched in
cubicles spread around the office, diligently placing cold calls to area residents. Boxes
of pepperoni pizza from Dominos (a company Romney backed when he ran the investment
firm Bain Capital) were piled on a table against a wall.
Senator Jim DeMint asked me to call you, said
one young woman, reading from a script into a cell phone. After running through a list of
Romneys accomplishmentsrescuing the 2000 Olympics in Salt Lake City,
cutting a $3 billion deficit without raising taxes while governor of
Massachusettsshe asked if her listener would be willing to join DeMint, South
Carolinas junior senator, in supporting Romney over his Republican rivals. There was
Well, I understand, maam, theres a long
way to go before the election, the volunteer replied. I just hope youll
keep us in mind.
Directing the phone-bank operation was Terry Sullivan, a
thirty-three-year-old political consultant. As we spoke in his office at the back of the
headquarters, Sullivandressed in a blue-and-white striped shirt, jeans, and
flip-flopspulled from a laptop on his desk a smattering of fund-raising numbers, TV
advertising rates for various states, and other political detritus. Theres a
poll out today that shows McCains got 10 percent in South Carolina, and he had 36 in
April, he said. Rudys got 28 percent, Fred Thompson has 27, and
weve only got 7, but [Newt] Gingrich is included and that pulls straight from
usthose are Mitt Romney voters.
South Carolina is known for its hard-charging political
consultants, and Sullivan is undeniably a rising star. After growing up in North Carolina
and serving as youth coordinator for Jesse Helmss final Senate run in 1996, Sullivan
relocated to South Carolina the following year to work on a congressional campaign. Now he
is a partner of TTS Strategies, the consulting firm run by J. Warren Tompkins, perhaps
South Carolinas most prominent Republican operative and Romneys chief handler
here. Although he was reluctant to go into details about who exactly was being targeted
tonight by the campaigns phone-bankers, Sullivan defined them broadly as hard
cores. He elaborated: We set out to identify and recruit grassroots activists,
because no one else cares about the presidential election at this point. These are people
who are just about guaranteed voters, the type who turn out even for special elections.
Political campaigns are checkers, not chess. Its largely about turnout, and that
means coming out for a candidate they are excited about or to stop a candidate that
theyre angry about.
For at least two decades, our political landscape has
been dominated by consultants; but there is no presidential campaign this year whose
success or failure so will depend on media managers, marketing strategists, and political
gurus as that of Mitt Romney. Unlike his chief competitors for the Republican nomination,
he started out with a fairly low national profile and hence has needed to be introduced
and marketed to a national audience. And the task of reformulating and repackaging the
Romney brandfrom the moderate Republican governor of the most liberal state in the
Union to a red-meat social conservative and heir to Reaganhas been entrusted to an
army of consultants far larger than that of any of his challengers. Campaign disclosure
records are convoluted and poorly categorized, so its difficult to make a precise
inventory. But based on filings with the Federal Election Commission, as of this summer,
Romneys campaign has employed more than a hundred different consultants, making
combined payments to them of at least $11 millionroughly three times the amount
spent by John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. Much of that money paid for the creation and
placement of TV ads through Romneys media consultant and chief strategist, Alex
Castellanos, but the campaign also spent heavily on polling, political strategy, and voter
A strong showing in South Carolina is critical to
Romneys ambitions. Since 1980, the year of the first primary here, no Republican has
ever gained his partys nomination without winning the state, which is traditionally
seen as the Gateway to Dixie and a key indicator of Southern support. If
Romneywho prior to running for president was deemed so moderate in his politics that
Human Events magazine put him on its list of the top ten Republicans in Name
Onlycan win over South Carolinas conservative electorate, it augurs well
for his chances in states where the party faithful are less fervent. It is a daunting
sales job, but Sullivan was confident that Romneys poll numbers in the state would
eventually rise. Everyone here knows Giuliani and McCain, and who doesnt like
Arthur Branch? he said with a smile, referring to the character Thompson plays on
the television show Law & Order. We havent spent money yet to get
[our message] out.
He was talking mostly about TV advertising, but only a
month later, a striking reminder came to light of just how South Carolina consultants tend
to get their messages out. The Washington Post discovered that an antiFred
Thompson smear site, entitled PhoneyFred.org, was being run by an executive of TTS
Strategies. The site was immediately taken down; Romney made pains to distance himself
from it, and somuch less believablydid Tompkins, who claimed an employee had
conceived and run the site without his knowledge. Whatever the truth of the sites
origin, the PhoneyFred episode perhaps most vividly showed that when one is contemplating
how to sell Mitt Romney, the problem of phoniness can never be far from the brain.
Earlier this year, the Boston Globe obtained
a copy of an internal campaign PowerPoint presentation that outlined Romneys
strengths and weaknesses as he embarked on his presidential bid. One pageentitled
Primal Code for Brand
Romneyexplained that Romney should market
himself as a foil to such Massachusetts liberals as Senators Edward Kennedy and John
Kerry, and also run against such enemies as Hollywood, France, and moral
relativism. Problems identified by the campaign included the perception that Romney
would not make a tough wartime leader and the possibility that voters would be spooked by
his Mormon religion.
The presentation also acknowledged the problematic view
that Romney is a phony and a political opportunist; but that view
is due at least in part to the fact that by any reasonable standard its true. The
basic contours of his opportunism are by now fairly well known. During Romneys
unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate against Edward Kennedy in 1994, he espoused liberal
beliefs on a number of social issues. A politically damaging clip from a campaign debate
that year has surfaced, inevitably, on YouTube; it shows Romney posing as an advocate for
gays, women, and minorities, andin perhaps his gravest sacrilegedistancing
himself from the political legacy of Ronald Reagan. Romney, Brent Bozell wrote the day
after the debate in a piece for UPI, had demonstrated very clearly . . . that he has
more in common with liberal Democrats than he does with Conservatives.
During the 1994 campaign, Romneys then (and
current) political consultant Charles Manning described Kennedy as a political opportunist
on abortion. He was pro-life before Roe v. Wade and now hes
changed, Manning said. Mitt has always been consistent in his pro-choice
position. Manning was citing a twenty-three-year-old letter as evidence that Kennedy
was a hypocrite. Campaign foes of the now pro-life Romney dont need to go back
nearly as far to do the same to him. In 2002, a Democratic opposition-research specialist
named Jason Stanford was hired by a pro-choice group to research a number of Republican
candidates nationwide. In the end, the group decided Romney was too liberal to oppose.
He wasnt pure on choice, but they thought he was saying the right thing from a
liberal, Democratic perspective, Stanford told me. And these are 100
percentersyoure either for us or against us.
Its not just Romneys flexibility on the
issues that troubles people. A related problem is the sense that whatever his political
convictions may be, hes not passionate about them. As with the charge of political
opportunism, there appears to be some truth to that perception. Religion, family,
and business were his focus, a person who worked for Romney in a previous campaign
told me. He didnt have strong opinions on the major issues of the day.
This person, who admires Romney but is not supporting him in his presidential bid, found
it frustrating to see him now veer so sharply to the right, particularly on immigration.
He knows better, because he understands business and the economy and trade, he
said. Its an easy political position for him to take and a hard one for McCain
and the president, who was governor of Texas. My guess is that he thought about the pros
and cons, made a calculation, and picked a spot further out on the political
The image of slickness is heightened by Romneys
appearance and persona, which might be genuine butbecause he seems like a
computer-generated compositeinvariably appears contrived. Everything about Romney
looks and sounds manufactured: the pretty blonde wife and five Leave It to Beaver
sons, the jutting Dick Tracy jaw, the ramrod-straight posture, the say cheese
smile, and the Reaganesque hair, which even the campaign PowerPoint worried might be too
perfect. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Romney had spent several hundred dollars
of campaign funds for the ministrations of Hidden Beauty, a California company that
describes itself as a mobile beauty team for hair, makeup and mens grooming
and spa services. This did not help the governors reputation for being a
prepackaged candidate, though Stacy Andrews, who owns Hidden Beauty, said he barely needed
makeup. Hes already tan, she told reporters. We basically put a
drop of foundation on him . . . and we powdered him a little bit.
Romneys speeches and public appearances seem
particularly vapid. There is no place that is more important to the future strength
of America than the American home, he said during a South Carolina stop. The
work that goes on within the walls of a home is the most important work that is ever done
in America. And even by the debased standards of contemporary political propaganda,
his advertising looks remarkably hokey. Of particular note is a thirteen-minute,
faux-cinéma-vérité video, posted on the campaign website, that shows Romney and his
family sitting in their living room and having a supposedly spontaneous, unrehearsed
conversation about whether Dad should run for president. The conversation took place last
Christmas, and even though it was by then obvious to the entire country that he was
running, Romney is seen dutifully taking down the pros and cons on a writing pad.
Some voters, understandably, question what Romney truly
stands for, if anything. Conservatives in particular seem unconvinced of his sincerity,
and that could be fatal in a state like South Carolina. We may not be the smartest
people in the country, but we know how to spot a fake, a political consultant and
popular blogger named Will Folks replied instantly when I asked why Romney had, at least
until then, fared poorly in state polls.
Political consultants probably have a more exalted
position in South Carolina than anywhere else in the country. The reasons for that
arent entirely clear, but it likely has something to do with the states small
size and tight political networks, both of which have allowed consultants to emerge as
power brokers. Its also probably connected to the legacy of Lee Atwater, one of the
states most famous political figures. Atwater was not a policy wonk, he was a
strategist, Lee Bandy, a longtime columnist and reporter for The State, the
Columbia daily newspaper, told me. And his strategy was to destroy his opponent. He
was good at not leaving a trail. Id tell him, Lee, I know you did it, but I
cant find your fingerprints.
There are bitter rivalries among the big-name players,
and consequently races here tend to be particularly hard-fought. Warren Tompkinss
chief adversary is Richard Quinn Sr., who ran McCains state campaign in 2000 and is
doing so again this time around. Each has a loyal circle of associates, and state
politicos frequently are labeled as belonging to one camp or the other. Quinn tends to be
the more conservative of the twohe led the battle to keep the Confederate flag atop
the capitol dome, founded a neo-Confederate magazine called Southern Partisan, and
worked for the presidential campaigns of Pat Robertson in 1988 and Pat Buchanan in
1996but the feud between them is personal, not ideological. Six years ago, Senator
Lindsay Graham hired them both as a means of preventing internecine campaign warfare.
The power of the consultant class has contributed to
South Carolinas reputation as a swamp of dirty politics. In 1980, Atwater served as
a consultant to G.O.P. congressional candidate Floyd Spence in his race against Tom
Turnipseed, a heavily favored Democrat. Turnipseed had suffered from depression as a
teenager and undergone electroshock therapy; Atwater ensured that became a campaign issue
by planting a fake reporter at a press conference who innocently inquired as to whether
Turnipseed had ever had psychotic treatment. In comments to reporters, Atwater
remarked that Turnipseed had been hooked up to jumper cables one too many
times. Spence won; the Republican National Committee soon hired Atwater.
A common practice in state politics has been the
exploitation of race and religion. In both cases, it drew upon intense, visceral
fears on the part of large numbers of white voters that they were facing a life and death
struggle, first to maintain white supremacy and later to prevent the rise of a godless
political culture, says Dan Carter, a former professor of American history at the
University of South Carolina. Rod Shealy, who once worked under Atwater and is currently
considered by many South Carolina insiders to be the smartest and shrewdest of the
states consultants, gained a bit of national notoriety in 1990, when he was running
the campaign of his sister, Sherry Martschink, a candidate for lieutenant governor. Shealy
was looking to increase the Republican primary turnout of racially conservative
low-country voters, a group largely sympathetic to Martschink. To do so, he recruited
Benjamin Hunt Jr., an unemployed black fisherman, to run for Congress in the Republican
primary against incumbent Arthur Ravenel Jr. Shealy paid Hunts filing fee, gave him
$500, and mailed out thousands of hunt for congress leaflets showing the candidate with a
Kentucky Fried Chicken sign in the background. Many of us heard about Rods
story and thought, There but for the grace of God go I, Terry Sullivan
said with a laugh when the subject came up. Its one of those harebrained
schemes that you dream up in the middle of the night and wonder, Would that be
Given the states history of political dirty tricks,
it wasnt exactly a surprise when the PhoneyFred.org story emerged in September. The
site ripped Thompson as a fake conservative, bestowing on him such labels as Phoney
Fred, Fancy Fred, Flip-Flop Fred, Moron Fred,
and Playboy Fred. Tompkins said the site was solely the work of an employee,
Wesley Donehue, who (so Tompkins and Romneys staff claimed) did not work directly
for the campaigndespite the fact that Romney had retained not only TTS (whose
daily operations Donehue was running, according to the firms own
literature) but also a direct-mail company, where Donehue worked. But Tompkins and
Sullivan held firm in denying their own involvement, and as of press time they were still
employed by the Romney campaign. [Q]uite frankly I am very internet
dysfunctional, Tompkins claimed in an email after the story broke. Anyone who
knows me would laugh at the prospect of my even being involved in such an
* * *
This past summer, I visited Tompkins at his
twelfth-floor office on Gervais Street, overlooking the state capitol. National
consultants dont understand the nuances of South Carolina, he told me.
We understand the state, the voters, how to reach them, and how to motivate them.
And when you hire me, you get my network, my friends and associates, the people who go
where I go.
Of the dozen or so consultants I met in South Carolina,
Tompkins is the only one who looks as if he would fit in as well in Washington as at home.
Smooth and corporate, he wore a stylish blue suit and snappy, polished dress shoes.
Photographs on his office walls include shots of Tompkins with former South Carolina
Senator Strom Thurmond, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, all past clients. Along with
Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, Tompkins was a key architect of Bushs victory over
McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary. That race is often seen as the ugliest one of
modern times, with rumors spreadoften via anonymous flyers, phones without caller
ID, and untraceable email addressesthat McCain had fathered an illegitimate black
child, that his wife was a drug addict, and that he favored removing tax-exempt status
One of Tompkinss primary jobs in that campaign was
to mobilize the religious right for Bush. The first thing we had to do was build a
wall between McCain and the social conservatives, Tompkins later explained. If
we didnt do that, we were dead. Thats why we went to Bob Jones, by which
he meant Bushs notorious visit to the Christian university that then had a
longstanding ban on interracial dating. And in a meeting of Bushs high-level South
Carolina strategists, Tompkins advocated a general hard-line approach. We
arent going to pussyfoot around, Tompkins told the group. We play it
different down here. Were not dainty, if you get my drift. But when I asked
him about South Carolinas reputation for dirty pool, he shrugged it off. Our
goal, he told me, is to win within taste, reason, and the law.
For the most part, Tompkins sees Romney as an easy sell.
You need three things to win: a messenger, a message, and money, he said.
Hes bright, articulate, clean, has good moral character, and looks good on TV.
Hes the complete and total package. Not to make a comparison to Ronald Reagan, but
he has the same qualities: hes got a good sense of humor and is a great
communicator. The flip-flop charges were not an issue, said Tompkins, who argued
that Romneys only real inconsistency was on the issue of abortion. He flat
changed his position. That will be acceptable, because since Roe v. Wade
weve been seeking converts. Hes a success storythat will be a plus for
The only worry in Tompkinss mind was the
governors current state of residence. Since I was a kid, Massachusetts has
been the whipping boy down here, he said. JFK was from there and Teddy,
Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, Barney Frank. When all else fails, you try to link your
opponent to Massachusetts. We have to sell his record there. He got elected as a
Republican and did things the right way. He cut taxes, solved the health-care crisis, and
put business principles ahead of expansion of government.
Tompkins sees Romneys strategic position in South
Carolina as being formidable. In his view, Giuliani cant win the primary because of
his stance on abortion and gay rights, not to mention his three marriages and general lack
of family values. If its Romney versus Giuliani, we win if we do our job
right, he said, and one could almost hear the wheels turning in his mind at the
delicious prospect of that matchup. Social groups, right-to-life organizations, the
Bob Jones crowd are all sitting on the sidelines, but Rudy scares them, and when a
conservative alternative comes to the top, they will move there. If its a four-way
race, 35 percent wins, and the question is where do you get it. Its all about
organizing, finding the voters, and making sure they vote. Were trying to win the
war of the activists, and were doing well so far.
Asked about the Democratic race, Tompkins didnt
hesitate to pick Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee. With Hillary we could gin up
the vote, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her, he said. Shell
have the money and she has the best people. They are good, tough, and ruthless, and will
do whatever they need to win. One gathered that this, from Tompkins, was the highest
* * *
In 1988, Time magazine ran a cover story
entitled Its the Year of the Handlers, which noted that more than
any other race in history, this has become a narrow-gauge contest between two
disciplined teams of political professionals. The magazine complained that the
foremost goal of the campaigns of both George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis was to
prevent their candidates from uttering a spontaneous thought in public, and
that backstage puppeteers were directing the entire race.
Something, Time concluded, has truly gone awry in 1988. It
was the year that Lee Atwater unleashed the infamous ad about Willie Horton, the black
convict who terrorized a white couple while out on a weekend pass from a Massachusetts
prison; the ad is widely credited with clinching Bushs victory. Ever since then, the
tough, savvy campaign consultantfrom James Carville to Karl Rovehas become a
standard character in any presidential-campaign narrative.
What has changed in the past two decades is the sheer
quantity of different handlers who massage the entire electoral process from announcement
to inauguration. Campaign & Elections magazine publishes an annual directory of
political consultants, and the 2007 edition lists thousands of practitioners, in
categories that include events planning, crisis management, direct mail, fund-raising,
GOTV (Get Out the Vote), grassroots strategy, Internet, mailing and phone lists, speech
training, media buying, polling, voice-over talent, and voter registration. All of this
has in turn contributed to the ever-rising costs of campaigns. A study last year by the
Center for Public Integrity found that political-consulting firms received combined
payments of $1.85 billion for federal campaigns during the 20032004 election cycle.
In the case of the 2008 Romney campaign, the roster
includes a host of speechwriters, among them Matt Rees, who served in the George W. Bush
White House producing speeches for the president and for National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice. Then there are the finance consultants, paid to strengthen Romneys
fund-raising effort (and thereby allow him to hire more consultants); these firms include
the California-based Davis Group, which worked for Arnold Schwarzeneggers
gubernatorial campaign and for Bush/Cheney 2000. Romney has employed a number of firms to
stage his campaign events, among them Political Productions, which was paid $20,800 to
help choreograph his announcement ceremony in February. The firm is headed by David
Grossman, who has handled rallies for President Bush, produced and designed the 2001
inaugural parade, and helped prepare the Desert Storm victory celebration in Washington
during the term of George H.W. Bush. (Political Productions is also, according to its
website, the leader in confetti services for the political production market,
and its team of professional confetti-releasers assures that a synchronized
event will come off flawlessly with all elements occurring on cue when and
where you want. With only 20 to 30 seconds following each speech available for a headline
photo opportunity or a video lead-in clip, why chance your production to anyone but the
leader in political production?)
In an especially calculated move, the Romney campaign has
invested heavily in winning local straw polls around the country, which dont
necessarily measure popular support as much as organization and financial resources.
Nonetheless, victory can win a news cycles worth of attention and hence be used to
hype the candidates supposed popularity and momentum. In Iowa, Romney hired Nicole
Schlinger, founder of Capitol Resources, Inc., a G.O.P.-event-management firm, as his
straw-poll director. She helped orchestrate Romneys triumph at the Ames Straw Poll,
which was achieved by shelling out huge sums of money to buy supporters tickets for
the event, arranging a fleet of buses to bring them in and catering a barbecue lunch to
feed them, financing a direct-mail campaign, and paying fees to dozens of
super-volunteers who promoted Romney (not to mention more than $2 million in
television ads in Iowa and roughly $1 million more for organizational support, which
included the $191,000 Schlinger was paid). All this bought Romney 31.5 percent of the
ballots cast in Ames4,516 voters, which means the campaign spent at least $650 per
To handle opposition research, the campaign has engaged
Barbara Comstocka lawyer who worked for former Attorney General John
Ashcroftat the price of $15,000 per month. Comstock honed her skills as research
director at the Republican National Committee and before that worked for the House
Government Reform Committee when its head, Representative Dan Burton, was leading
investigations into the Clinton-era Democratic fund-raising scandals and trying to prove
that White House counsel Vince Foster did not commit suicide but was murdered.
Comstocks talents were on display this summer during an appearance on Hardball,
when she essentially argued that Senator Barack Obamas support for
age-appropriate sex education meant that he favored educating kindergartners
about masturbation and homosexuality, and possibly abortion as well. There are more
important issues that we need to be spending our money on other than kindergarten sex
education and funding abortions for everybody, Comstock said.
The list of Romneys consultants gets longer. There
is the direct-mail specialist Stephen Meyers of SCM Associates; Gary Marx, who works for
Ralph Reed at Century Strategies and rounds up social-conservative support for the
campaign, as he did for Bush/Cheney in 2004; pollster and focus-group guru Jan van
Lohuizen, who worked for the Bush Administration; and Get Out the Vote specialist Claire
Austin. Then come the hordes of local specialists hired to help Romney navigate the
terrain in individual states, especially ones that loom large in the primary schedule. In
Florida, the campaign hired political strategist Sara Bradshaw, who is to Governor Jeb
Bush what Karl Rove was to President Bush. In New Hampshire, where fiscal conservatism is
a more potent force than social conservatism, he hired as advisers moderates like Rich
Killion and Tom Rath. And in South Carolina, where religious activists have the upper
hand, he hired not only Sullivan and Tompkins but several other brand-name conservatives.
* * *
In seeking to woo conservatives, Romney has also
used his personal PACthe Commonwealth Political Action Committeeto contribute
lavishly to several national pro-life groups, the Federalist Society, the National
Review, and the Heritage Foundation, among others. In South Carolina, Romney set up a
branch of the PAC all the way back in 2004. (He started branches in Iowa, New Hampshire,
Michigan, and Arizona at the same time.) Since then, the state branchwith guidance
from a number of consulting firms, including DC Navigators, a top Washington-based
grouphas run up expenditures of roughly $518,000. Recipients in South Carolina
include dozens of state representatives as well as Lieutenant Governor André Bauer
($3,500) and Attorney General Henry McMaster ($1,000). Romney has ladled $9,500 on the
state Republican Party, $3,500 on the state Senate G.O.P. caucus, and $7,000 on the House
caucus, and has sent tens of thousands of dollars in total to numerous county-level party
Romneys game plan in South Carolina depends on
winning a large share of the social-conservative vote, which makes up at least a third,
and perhaps even two fifths, of the states G.O.P. electorate. To that end, his PAC
has also funded the Palmetto Family Council, which, according to its website, works
in the centers of influence (church, government, media, academia, and business) to present
biblical principles through research, communication and networking. Another $5,000
was delivered from Romneys PAC to an organization sponsoring a statewide ballot
initiative, passed in 2006, that added an amendment banning gay marriage to the state
constitution. The PAC also sent money to South Carolina Citizens for Life ($500), South
Carolina Club for Growth ($1,000), a school-choice group called South Carolinians for
Responsible Government ($1,000), a Republican GOTV effort called South Carolina Victory
($2,000), and a group of conservative school-board candidates in Charleston ($2,000)
called, humorously enough, The A-Team. (One pities the fool who might oppose
them.) Moreover, the Romney campaign in June formed a national faith and values
steering committee that includes four South Carolinians, among them a pastor, Mark
White, and a Christian political activist, Dee Benedict. Both White and Benedictwhom
Romney also put on the payroll as a consultantare from upstate, the heart of South
To ensure that all this goodwill gets translated into
votes, Romneys campaign has retained Drew McKissick, a former board member of the
Christian Coalition and state director for the campaign to ban gay marriage. If he
[Romney] wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it puts huge pressure on the other candidates,
he told me over coffee at a Starbucks on Gervais Street, a few blocks from his office.
South Carolina becomes a fire wall for them to stop him.
Like Romney, McKissick is perfectly groomed, with not a
single hair askew. Hes worked as a consultant since 1990his first campaign was
a race for county coronerand has arranged private meetings for Romney with Southern
Baptists, charismatics, fundamentalists, and other religious conservatives. I help
the campaign with communications and messaging towards that sector of the party, he
told me. I network with people I know around the state and help them decide who
theyll support. Thats a conversation best had in small groups. Building a
campaign is like throwing a rock in the pond. Theres a big ripple and then smaller
ripples outward. Were focusing on the first few rippleskey leaders within
church and community, people who have networks of influence and who other people listen
McKissick helps the Romney campaign develop materials
targeted to social conservatives, such as a packet, mailed to a small group of religious
activists, that included a cover letter under his name. (McKissick and Terry Sullivan both
told me I could get a copy of the letter but in the end declined to send it.) He also
created a website, Christian Conservatives for Romney, that includes news on the campaign,
Romney videos, and summaries of the governors positions on such issues as
abortion & life, traditional marriage, protecting our
children, and free speech. As laid out on the website, Romneys
position on the final item is largely confined to deploring the McCain-Feingold
campaign-finance law, which is loathed by conservatives everywhere and has cost McCain
dearly in his own extensive efforts to woo the Republican right.
Some religious voters will never see Romney as the ideal
candidate, McKissick acknowledged. His goal is to make sure that those people are
comfortable enough with the governor that they will turn to him in the event that their
first pickMcKissick didnt name names but was certainly thinking of Sam
Brownback and Mike Huckabee, whose conservative credentials are far more solid than
Romneysdrops out. There is a segment of the party that is looking for
purity and is ?leery of anyone who might not meet that ideal standard, he continued.
Im trying to alleviate fears that he doesnt measure up.
Doubts about Romney will diminish as the campaigns
advertising kicks in, McKissick believes. Communications is the primary purpose of
any campaign. The message with this segment of the party is shared values. What values do
you have that will carry forward in the campaign? Thats more important than a
ten-point plan. If I know his core values, I can more or less figure out where hell
be on the issues. Thats more important than where he goes to church on
* * *
If Romney retains his current lead in the polls and
wins New Hampshire and Iowa, a victory in South Carolinas primary could propel him
toward the nomination. If he performs less well than expected in the two key early states,
hell be even more desperate for a good showing here. At least through mid-September,
though, Romney had failed to find his footing; despite repeated visits to South Carolina,
and at least $1 million spent on advertising and organization, he remained mired in or
near single digits in the polls behind Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain. He will likely rise
in the polls, especially with a major TV advertising campaign planned for the fall, but
the question remains how high.
The problems holding him back were all identified in the
campaigns PowerPoint presentation: the Massachusetts background, the image of
slickness, the fears about his religion, and, above all, mistrust of his ideological
transformation. Romney and his handlers portray him as having undergone a political
conversion, but they cant point to any convincing catalyst. There was no religious
epiphany (as, for example, with George W. Bush) or political awakening (as with Ronald
Reagan, a New Deal Democrat who joined the Republican Party in 1962 and backed Barry
Goldwater for president two years later, which at the time was hardly a politically savvy
move). With Romney, theres merely been the recent espousal of positions
diametrically opposed to his earlier ones, feeding the suspicion that his political shifts
are more reflective of his ambition than of his convictions.
In Mount Pleasant, at a dockside restaurant just across
the bay from Charleston, I met with Cyndi Mosteller, a social conservative who served
until recently as head of her county Republican Party and before that as vice chair of the
state G.O.P. I had expected her to exhibit a conservative persona that matched her
politics, but Mosteller, bubbly and energetic, had hair streaked with reddish highlights
and wore a sleeveless black-and-white dress with high heels. We took a window table and
watched shrimp boats bobbing on the water as we talked about the race in South Carolina.
She had started out as a McCain backer but opposed his views on issues like
embryonic-stem-cell research and immigration, and left his campaign over the summer.
Giuliani is anathema to her. Weve worked hard for years to hold the line on
Judeo-Christian ethics, and it would be difficult for conservatives to cast our vote,
which is our trust, for someone who disagrees with us, she said.
But Mosteller (who not long afterward would declare her
support for Fred Thompson) is most scornful of Romney. Its a question of
trust, she said. He says all the right things, his speeches run through the
litmus test on conservative issues, but theres no conviction behind it. Authenticity
means a lot in the South. You cant run to the left up North and the right down here.
I find it patronizing to my intelligence, to my conservatism, and to the South.
By all accounts, Mitt Romney is smart and
pragmaticnot at all as vacuous, that is, as he has been made to sound. The irony is
that in attempting to market him to the Republican base, his handlers have created a
thorough phony. The electorate is not where it needs to be for us to succeed,
his campaign PowerPoint had concluded; hence, the strategy has been to move Romney where
he needs to be to succeed. It remains to be seen how well this will play in South
Excerpted from an article by Matthew Yglesias at Atlantic
Near the top of his Mitt Romney
profile, Ryan Lizza gives a good summary of the former governor's many political
transformations. A man in New Hampshire introduces himself as a hunter and asks Romney
what he's going to do about global warming. Romney notes that "to do that its
going to take nuclear power, clean coal, more efficient vehicles, and then were
going to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gases." Lizza comments:
It was a good answer, but also a strange one. Not long
ago, Romney released a glossy pamphlet detailing his positions on major issues. He sounded
like Al Gore when talking to the environmentalist in New Hampshire, though his policy
books treatment of global warming reads more like something from ExxonMobil. In it,
Romney refers to the debate over how much human activity impacts the
environmentcode words for the global-warming-denial crowd. He offers no plan
to dramatically curtail emissions of CO2, just an aside that we may well
be able to rein in our greenhouse-gas emissions. As the governor of Massachusetts,
Romney, in December, 2005, pulled out of a Northeast-state agreement on carbon
reductiona plan that he had supported the month before.
This is a habit of Romneys. Politicians tend to
pander, especially during the primary season. Romneys chief opponent, Rudy Giuliani,
also has a history as a pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights Republican. But while Giuliani
simply downplays his record on those issues, Romney sells himself as a true convert. He
not only shifts positions; he often claims to be the most passionate advocate of his new
stances. Its one of the reasons that his metamorphosis from liberal Republican to
committed right-winger seems so jarring. In 1994, in his race for the Senate, he
didnt simply argue that he was a defender of gay rights; he claimed to be a stronger
advocate than his opponent, Edward Kennedy. Today, hes not just a faithful
conservative but the only Republican candidate who represents the Republican wing of
the Republican Party. He brings a salesmans bravado and certainty to issues.
At a debate in May, when asked how he would respond to a hypothetical situation involving
the interrogation of a terrorist at Guantánamo Bay, he said, Some people have said
we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is that we ought to double Guantánamo.
Elected as a pro-choice governor in 2002YouTube is flooded with his passionate
advocacy of abortion rightshe now presents himself as the most resolute
anti-abortion candidate in the Republican field. A Mormon, he sometimes adopts the
religious language of Evangelicals when he is addressing conservative Christian groups. To
economic conservatives, he pitches himself as the candidate most strongly committed to
slashing spending and taxes. (Hes the only major G.O.P. candidate to have signed a
formal anti-tax pledge, the sort of move that his spokesman dismissed as government
by gimmickry in Romneys 2002 gubernatorial campaign.) To national-security
conservatives, he is the most hawkish. (He says often that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
of Iran, should be indicted under the Genocide Convention, and his campaign has named the
former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black, the vice-chairman of Blackwater, as an
adviser.) But, while giving customers exactly what they want may be normal in the
corporate world, it can be costly in politics.
The weird thing is that having flip-flopped and pandered
a lot, Romney's campaign seems to feel almost liberated. At this point, it's not worth
worrying that any particular thing will earn their candidate a reputation as a liar, a
flip-flopper, and a panderer, because his stances on just a few high-profile issues show
very clearly that he is a liar, is a flip-flopper, and is a panderer. Thus, they feel
free to pander and flip-flop on everything all the time. This is a stark contrast
to, say, McCain in 2007 who tried to both trim his sails on some issues, while
seeking credit for being straightforward and honest on others. Team Romney, though, always
knows that for their guy Expediency Conquers All.
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