Loose Lips and the Romney Campaign
I didn’t want to write about Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his staff’s sophomoric errors this week. In fact, a friend warned me against penning anything negative about Romney because it would put me in the doghouse with the GOP establishment and that’s not where I want to be. But I can’t heap false praise on our candidate when he sorely needs constructive criticism so he can win the race for the White House in 2012.
For a campaign which prides itself on being insular and controlling, the Romney camp and its leader seem to be playing Russian roulette with his image, by engaging in political improvisation. Over the past week, Romney and staff seem to be losing control when they most need it. Last week I defended Romney against the news media attacks when he “wondered aloud” if the British were prepared to handle security for the Olympics. But in hindsight, I think that was a stupid mistake to walk into.
It’s true the British press made a big deal on the London Olympics having to fire the private security firm hired to manage security for the games but why did Romney feel a need to mention it? He was in London to show his strength on foreign policy as a candidate not to critique the Olympics. President Obama is running a dishonest campaign of “mass distraction” from his failed economic record. Romney knows this and so do the American people. Romney needed to channel his tightly suited, scripted self during that routine media interview. Sadly, Romney brought the media madness upon himself.
Americans want Romney to loosen up, be aggressive, show passion, and give us details on how he would make things better like he did in his NAACP speech. What he doesn’t need to do is to lose control on the basic stuff, stuff that should be common sense. I think Romney’s overseas trip was successful but it got eclipsed by nonsense of his and his staff’s making. After the Olympic gaffe, I was certain Team Romney was done with “forced” errors.
No such luck. During Romney’s visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland, his spokesperson Rick Gorka told reporters to “kiss my ass” and “shove it” when they shouted questions. What the hell? I thought. This kind of behavior is never acceptable for an employee of any campaign or company and Gorka should have been fired immediately. (Conservatives with whom I’ve spoken, working for members of Congress or private companies agreed they would have been fired on the spot for such unprofessional behavior.) Reporters shout questions all the time, you don’t have to answer them. Gorka should have followed Romney’s lead and said nothing.
In not firing Gorka, Romney not only leaves voters with the disturbing impression he condones this kind of behavior but also that he would tolerate it in the White House. Gorka’s outburst doesn’t make Romney look presidential or that he is in command of his staff. It makes his campaign and thereby the candidate look desperate like they can’t take the heat. Not a way to win a presidential election against a candidate like Obama operating a dirty campaign in which he will talk about everything under the sun but his failed record of 42 months of over 8% unemployment, stagnant economic growth and debilitating $16 trillion debt.
As someone reiterated on Twitter, Gorka’s actions “only detract from his [Romney’s] message” and the liberal news media aka “Obama Choir” will seize any opportunity to make Romney look weak. Having earned the reputation of being a control freak, Romney needs to exert a tighter grip on his campaign staff and subject himself to greater self-discipline on trivial matters. Then Romney should follow Olympic gymnastic all around individual gold medal winner Gabby Douglas’ advice, “You just have to not be afraid and go out there and just dominate.” But Romney can’t dominate the presidential election when he keeps stepping in the silly putty.