It’s the day after the Republican National Convention, where Mitt Romney finally grasped his long-term goal of the GOP presidential nomination, so of course the question that’s roiling the American political world today is this: Was there something wrong with Clint Eastwood?
Movie icon Eastwood was the “mystery speaker” on the convention’s final night, in case you haven’t heard. He was on-stage at the top of the hour prior to Romney’s long-awaited acceptance speech. Convention planners probably expected he’d deliver a short, growling quasi-commercial composed of references to his past movies. You know, “Turn Obama every which way but loose!” and stuff like that.
Instead he delivered a rambling monologue to an empty chair that represented Obama himself. (“InvisibleObama” already has its own Twitter feed.) He talked about unfilled promises, and how Obama had many of them, and whether lawyers should even be president. He brought up Oprah Winfrey. He drew his finger across his throat in a reference to “having to let people go.” He pretended that the unseen president in the chair was mouthing obscenities.
It's possible that Eastwood's evident emotion appealed to independent voters who have previously judged Romney too stiff.
But lots of other people would use a descriptor other than "unique" for Eastwood's approach. “Bizarre,” maybe. “Disjointed.” “Unfathomable.” “Worst performance since last Michael Moore movie.”
“It was entertaining, but it was weird,” wrote conservative Erick Erickson on his RedState blog, going on to defend the speech as an “unscripted conversation of an independent voter coming to terms with the end of the Obama love affair.”
Then there were the really negative reviews.
“Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic,” tweeted movie critic and Twitter star Roger Ebert as Eastwood spoke.
“For a night in which the undercard leading up to the primetime speakers was the best of the three nights, Eastwood was a totally unnecessary distraction that had to leave the Romney convention planners grimacing,” he wrote.
“Kooky, long-winded,” said CBS News – in a news story.
Look, here’s our reaction to Eastwood making the Obama campaign's day:
First, this makes screenwriters look good, doesn’t it? You thought those actors just spoke that way from the heart. No, they’re speaking lines, and this shows what happens when they make up their own.
Second, somebody in the Romney camp is going to get their rear handed to them by the candidate, if they haven’t already. Conventions are supposed to be tightly scripted. This is why. It is hard to believe that Eastwood walked on stage without prior approval of his talk, but it appears that’s just what happened.
Third, so what? It’s true that commentary on Twitter about Eastwood’s speech is swamping references to Romney, but tweets are no guide to electoral results. The Eastwood speech, like “Etch-A-Sketch,” Obama’s statement that the private sector is doing fine, Romney’s dressage horse, and so on, will matter little in the context of such fundamentals as the jobless rate and consumer confidence.
It was fun, though. “It wasn’t something to like or dislike; it was just something to appreciate, and marvel at, and to remember to thank television, in its twilight years, for all the great moments it’s given us,” wrote Jonathan Bernstein on his A Plain Blog About Politics.
President Obama made a surprise appearance on an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social forum Reddit yesterday, delighting Redditors by fielding questions on a wide variety of topics, from the difficulties of handling school loans to how he balances his work and family time.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors crowded onto the site, crashing it for a time. To some in the tech world, the visit was a coming-out party for such Internet platforms, a moment that showed they have the power to create news, not just aggregate it.
“Just as Oprah joining Twitter was seen as a turning point for that service, the President participating on Reddit is a breakthrough for the service,” writes Christina Warren on the Web news site Mashable.
Well, we’d agree it was a great thing for Reddit, per se. It shined lots of attention on its interesting AMA section and gives a boost to its overall brand.
Plus, it was a good move for the White House. As Ms. Warren notes, there were over 200,000 visitors on the site watching the event live yesterday at around 4:30 p.m. That’s a pretty big audience, and probably more than were watching the GOP convention at that moment. Political counterprogramming! It’s what’s for afternoon tea.
So does it matter that Mr. Obama said virtually nothing new? He answered 10 questions, most of them blandly. He agreed that it’s hard to repay college loans in a down economy, said he supports the space program, and acknowledged that his hardest decision as president was approving the surge in Afghanistan.
His favorite basketball player? Michael Jordan. The White House beer recipe? It’s coming out soon. (OK, as far as we can tell that last one might have been new news, as we in the MSM say.)
Let’s try and figure this out – the Reddit appearance did not provide the US public much additional information about Obama policies. But it was important because it was on Reddit? Is that what Marshall McLuhan meant with the phrase “the medium is the message”?
We’d agree with The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal on this one – there was nothing revealed in Obama’s Reddit answers that would have interested any Redditor if had appeared on another format.
Plus, as Mr. Madrigal notes, the Reddit AMA is a terrible means for extracting information from a politician. They get to sit behind a desk, choose what questions they want to answer, formulate their answers in private, and then push “enter.” That sounds a whole lot easier than holding a White House press conference.
“We’ll know Reddit has really arrived as a political community when [Obama] uses a visit to announce a policy change they’ve been promoting, perhaps around marijuana policy or civil liberties broadly construed. Until then, it’s all kissing babies and shaking hands, only with more LOLs,” writes Madrigal.
Reddit users were at first astounded that the president of the United States had landed in their midst. After site administrators confirmed that the person with the username “President Obama” was in fact POTUS, all heck broke loose.
Questions poured forth, from serious inquiries about how to handle college debt in a down economy, to the identity of Mr. Obama’s favorite toothpaste and his attitude towards (the late rock star) Freddy Mercury and (current actor) Neil Patrick Harris.
Users get to pick their questions in AMA, so the silly stuff went unanswered. Among other things, Obama told Reddit that his toughest decision as president had been the approval of the surge of troops into Afghanistan.
“The decision did help us blunt the Taliban’s momentum, and is allowing us to transition to Afghan lead.... But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget,” wrote Obama.
Answering a query about the dangers of money in politics, Obama opined that the flood of cash from "super political-action committees" threatens to drown out the voices of “ordinary citizens.” He said that over the longer term the US might need to mobilize a “constitutional amendment process” to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
He came out in favor of space exploration and Internet freedom without explaining exactly what he meant in either case, noted that Michael Jordan is his favorite basketball player, and, in breaking news, said that the recipe used for White House-brewed beer will soon be released.
He closed by answering a question about life balance, saying that it’s hard when you have presidential responsibilities, but at least his commute is short.
“By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience – NOT BAD!” he concluded.
Why did Obama take the time to answer a few general questions in this manner? Gee, you don’t think it had anything to do with counterprogramming the GOP convention, do you?
The Reddit session will allow Obama to break through the coverage of the GOP in a crucial segment of voters – young, electronically-connected – in which Democrats need to do well in the fall.
Plus, of course he enjoyed the Reddit question experience. Would you rather answer questions shouted at you by the White House press corps in a mass session, or pick what you want to answer in a quiet room and then peck away on a laptop?
The whole thing is another example of how the Obama administration in particular, and politicians in general, are increasingly bypassing the established channels of the mainstream media to find new and less-filtered ways of getting out their message.
It’s no accident that Obama this week also gave an interview to Glamour Magazine. First Lady Michelle Obama is set to appear on David Letterman’s show tonight. The MSM doesn’t like it. But in the new wired world the old rules are changing, and establishment Washington reporters don’t have the leverage they once did.
Juan Williams is drawing a lot of heat for calling Ann Romney a “corporate wife." The Fox News commentator made the remark after watching Mrs. Romney’s generally well-received speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday night.
Asked what he meant by calling the wife of the GOP nominee “corporate,” Williams continued by saying she “looks like a woman whose husband takes care of her, and she’s been very lucky and blessed in this life. She’s not speaking for the tremendous number of single women, or married women, or separated. She did not convince me that, ‘You know what, I understand the struggles of American women in general.’ ”
Hmmm. We’ll say this in Williams’ defense – it’s hard to have an instant and profound opinion about every political event you see, and doubly hard if you know that opinion is being televised. It would have been one thing if he’d simply said that he did not believe Romney’s speech would sway many votes, or that struggling single moms might not relate to her.
But the “corporate wife” label, the “husband takes care of her” judgment – that’s going further. Those assertions are going to drive some people nuts.
Conservatives were quick to pounce on the implication that the spouses of business executives tend to be pampered automata. Maybe that subtle denigration would make sense if Mitt Romney had divorced Mrs. Romney and married a younger trophy spouse, writes editor Ed Morrissey on the conservative Hot Air! website. But Romney has been by her husband’s side from the beginning of his career.
“Maybe Juan Williams needs to start listening with his ears rather than his agenda,” writes Mr. Morrissey.
Commentator Michelle Malkin was even more pointed. “Ann Romney = Class,” she tweeted. “Juan Williams = [rhyming expletive]."
Democrats, of course, have long portrayed the GOP candidate himself as a rich buy-out artist who doesn’t care about the troubles of everyday folks. And there’s evidence that US public agrees with this depiction: Mr. Romney’s favorable numbers are very low for a major party nominee. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that only 35 percent of US adults have a favorable view of Romney, with 51 percent holding an unfavorable view.
But Mrs. Romney polls better, to the extent that Americans know about her at all. A USA Today/Gallup survey released this week has her favorable rating at 42 percent, with 24 percent unfavorable. Fully a quarter of respondents said they had no opinion about Mr. Romney’s spouse.
And Democrats are unlikely to make much electoral headway by trying to portray Mrs. Romney as a mirror of her husband, Richita Rich. The voting public distinguishes between politicians and their spouses, and as long as the spouse does not take overt policy positions, generally gives them a pass. That’s one reason why Michelle Obama’s favorability ratings average about 9 points better than her husband’s.
But for those conservatives landing on Juan Williams today, remember that once the right defended him against what it perceived as the forces of political correctness. Two years ago he got fired from NPR after saying that he got nervous on airplanes when he saw people in Muslim garb.
“Clearly, NPR only wants opinion journalists that agree with the opinions of NPR, and I mean totally agree,” wrote – who else – Ed Morrissey of Hot Air! at the time.
Political conventions juggle two competing objectives: firing up the party faithful, and presenting an appealing face to undecided voters who are only beginning to tune in to the presidential race. This year's political conventions will both feature prime speaking roles for people who can help their parties achieve those dual goals: party switchers.
It’s OK, party switchers announce to the world, to change your mind and join the other team. For the home team, partisan defectors offer the fulfillment of a fantasy held by every die-hard politico since seventh-grade civics: convincing someone of another political persuasion to join your side.
For undecided voters, the switchers give a bipartisan sheen to a political party amid what is perhaps the most partisan affair of the year.
IN PICTURES: The Republican Convention 2012
On Tuesday night, the GOP will feature former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. Mr. Davis will take the podium just a few speakers before the much-heralded address of Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and the keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
For Republicans, having Mr. Davis at their dais in 2012 is particularly sweet: He seconded Barack Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
Davis was a conservative Democrat during his tenure in the House, where he was among those who voted against Mr. Obama’s signature health-care reform law. However, he all but abandoned the party after he came up short in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in his home state.
After Davis's speech, Republicans will lay on the “it’s OK to change your mind” theme with a testimonial video about three voters who supported Obama in 2008 but have shifted to Mitt Romney in 2012.
But Republicans aren't the only ones getting in on the switcheroo fun. Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida endorsed Obama on Sunday and will speak at the Democratic National Convention next week.
And in the video tit for tat, the liberal "super PAC" Priorities USA released an advertisement featuring a Massachusetts small-business owner named Olive Chase, who supported Mr. Romney for governor but supports Obama for president.
COVER STORY: Why conventions still matter (+video)
Should Chris Matthews get fired for his “race card” rant at RNC chief Reince Priebus? That’s a big discussion on Twitter and in various other social media at the moment. In case you haven’t heard about it, Matthews went thermo-ballistic at Mr. Priebus on MSNBC Monday morning, yelling that some Republican campaign memes are meant to appeal to racial prejudice.
On the “Morning Joe” appearance Mr. Matthews began with Mitt Romney’s bad joke about his own birth certificate, moved somewhat nonsensically through Mr. Romney’s prep school education and financial background, and then ended up with the Romney ad that falsely claims Obama is repealing work requirements for welfare. All these things depict the incumbent as the “other,” someone not like us, and thus constitute race-baiting, alleged Matthews.
“It is an embarrassment to your party to play that card,” Matthews muttered at Priebus, who clearly had not expected to be hit by a Category 3 word-icane.
“Garbage, garbage,” Priebus replied.
“It’s your garbage,” said Matthews.
Hmm. OK then. That brightened up everybody’s bagel and hot beverage, didn’t it?
We’ve got a couple of things to say in response to this.
First, all you conservatives out there calling for Matthews to suddenly experience unemployment, you’re going to be disappointed. MSNBC wants to be the anti-Fox, and this only helps that branding. From the network executive point of view, the whole thing was great television. Matthews was surprisingly angry; Priebus was dumbfounded, like somebody who’s found a bug in their jam jar; and the supporting cast was shocked, and tried to rein in their co-broadcaster.
They were unsuccessful.
Second, this doesn’t mean the incident is good for Matthews’ media career. Yes, he’s well known for rants – people make highlight tapes of them to post on YouTube, as if they were hockey fights. Yes, his bosses might even praise him, and he’ll get lots of “atta-boys” from liberals.
“I’ve never heard – never heard – such a positive response,” said Matthews in an interview with Politico.
But live by the rant, die by the rant. Metaphorically speaking. Republican guests are going to be increasingly wary of appearing with Matthews, and those that do may come rhetorically armed. Matthews got a taste of that a few hours later on Monday when he tangled with Newt Gingrich. The ex-GOP hopeful is pretty good at insults too, and he accused Matthews himself of being a “racist” because he (Matthews) said the phrase “food stamp president” is racial code, too.
“Why do you assume ‘food stamp’ refers to black? What kind of racist thinking do you have?” said Mr. Gingrich.
Matthews may get tired of his interviews all degenerating into Word Fight Club. Though come to think of it, a Matthews-Gingrich show could be pretty compelling.
Meanwhile, Tom Brokaw’s been lost in the shuffle here. He was sitting next to Matthews on Monday when the fuse burned down. Eventually, he crawled out from under the Matthews-caused wreckage to pronounce that he didn’t think Romney’s birth certificate joke was racial. It was “awkward,” said the former anchor. But he went on to castigate Priebus, and by extension the Republican leadership, for allowing a lot of ugly stuff to pass unchallenged during the GOP primaries, dealing with the president’s heritage, his “socialism,” and so forth.
“I think [that stuff] comes the other way, too, from Democrats to Republicans,” said Mr. Brokaw. “That’s what’s made Americans fed up with politics.”
Amen to that. See you along the way, Tom.
It’s political convention season, so we’ve got a relevant trivia question: One US city hosted 10 of the first 11 major party presidential nomination meetings. Which one?
Hint: At the time, it was a large, vibrant city that was central to one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation.
While you’re thinking that over we’ll give a brief history of how they used to choose convention locations. These confabs of delegates began in the early 19th century as a reform meant to lessen the power of “King Caucus,” the small groups of elected officials who to that point had handpicked nominees. Conventions had to be held in cities that were easy to reach via the rudimentary transportation networks of the day. That meant cities on the Eastern Seaboard. A big party did not hold a convention in a city unreachable from the ocean until 1856, when the Democrats met in Cincinnati.
That pick began a trend. As the population moved westward, political power moved with it, and party conventions followed. The center of convention life moved to the Midwest. Chicago remains the nation’s leading political convention city; it has hosted 11 Democratic and 14 Republican presidential nomination get-togethers – most recently in 1996, when Democrats renominated Bill Clinton. (The first? That would be the historic convention of 1860, which picked Abraham Lincoln as the Republican standard-bearer.)
Democrats met in San Francisco in 1920. But in general, the Midwestern convention model held until the years after World War II.
Since 1960 they’ve been all over the place: Los Angeles; San Francisco; Miami Beach; Atlantic City, N.J. (where LBJ accepted the Democratic nomination in 1964); and so forth. These choices are made for a number of reasons, including the desire of party leaders to sway voters in swing states. Why else would the GOP be meeting in Tampa, Fla., during hurricane season? Florida is always big, electorally speaking.
And which city kicked off the whole convention movement in the 1800s? Baltimore. The Democrats held six conventions there (1832 to 1852). Their opposition held five during that same period, four in Baltimore, one in nearby Harrisburg, Pa.
COVER STORY: Why conventions still matter (+video)
Michelle Obama has been campaigning hard in recent days, in case you haven’t noticed. Last week, chanting supporters waited hours in late-summer heat for a chance to hear her speak at a high school in Milwaukee. Then she flew to Indiana for a big event at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Once there, she suffered an affliction common after a long day on the stump – a glitch in her space/time continuum.
“It is just so wonderful to be here and to see all of you this afternoon, evening – what time of day is it? I’ve lost track of time,” she said. The audience laughed in response.
Then there’s her constant presence in nonhard news media. She was on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” two weeks ago and is set to appear on David Letterman’s “Late Show” this Wednesday to discuss back-to-school issues. (Gee, that’s right in the middle of the Republican National Convention. Do you think that’s on purpose?)
This week she’s taping a “Dr. Oz” appearance for broadcast in September. She’s been all over iVillage, a women-oriented website where she has served as guest editor, talking about everything from whether she believes women can have it all to a recent present she’s received from her hubby: gardening gloves.
Does the Democratic Party consider the first lady a secret weapon in its attempt to keep control of the White House? Maybe. If nothing else, we think there’s a good chance her husband’s campaign considers her one of its most important means of reaching out to independent voters.
Why? Well, for one thing she’s very popular. First ladies generally are – Laura Bush had high favorability ratings, too. In a Gallup poll from May, 66 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama, as opposed to 52 percent who felt that way about President Obama. (His numbers have slipped below 50 percent since then.)
Plus, she’s popular with more than core Democratic voters. A Pew Research Center survey from January found that 61 percent of independents had a favorable view of the first lady. Moderate and liberal Republicans shared this view. Such voters viewed Mrs. Obama favorably by a margin of 62 percent to 25 percent, according to Pew.
And here’s the kicker: Her causes may reflect current public opinion. She’s well known for the White House garden, her Let’s Move campaign to get kids exercising, pushing healthy eating, and so forth. She’s fighting obesity – and that’s a public health problem the public at large now ranks as a major concern.
In a July Gallup poll, 81 percent of respondents judged that obesity is an “extremely” or “very serious” problem. That’s up significantly from the last time Gallup asked that question in 2005. According to this survey, Americans now view obesity as a bigger problem than smoking.
“First lady Michelle Obama’s high-profile nationwide anti-childhood obesity campaign, launched in 2010, may have ... affected Americans’ perceptions of the severity of the issue,” wrote Gallup’s Elizabeth Mendes last month.
In this context it’s easy to say why the first lady’s appearances, in which she talks about her own middle-class upbringing, the difficulties of raising Malia and Sasha, and so forth, perhaps humanize the president while reaching out to voters otherwise disenchanted with his policies.
But there are limits to how far this approach might go. It’s true that first ladies generally have high approval ratings, but those can drop if the public perceives their actions as overtly political. Hillary Rodham Clinton was a rare first lady whose favorability ratings dipped below those of her husband, in part due to her role in designing President Clinton’s failed attempt to reform health care.
And many in the GOP disapprove of Mrs. Obama's public campaigns, considering them the sort of nanny-state lecturing that defines unnecessary big government. Pew found that conservative Republicans had an unfavorable view of her, by 46 to 44 percent. Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives criticized her this month after she chided Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas for eating a fast-food breakfast in celebration of a gold medal triumph.
Switching sides is always awkward in politics. But Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Obama Sunday puts Florida’s former Republican governor in opposition to his party on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
That’s a whole different level of cold.
And Republicans are dropping bombs on the man many thought had a future on the national GOP stage in the same manner that Democrats recently blasted one of their own.
“Make no mistake about it: This is Charlie Crist trying to shed his skin for a political comeback,” wrote Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry in an e-mail to Florida Republicans.
How do political parties excoriate their Judas-es? In short, by questioning the heretic’s sincerity by citing the individual’s past statements whacking the newly favored political team.
“Calling him a liberal will only play into his hand,” Mr. Curry wrote. “He hopes it will divert attention away from his record and his years of calling himself a Conservative. You should take every opportunity with the media to remind Floridians that Crist has made a career out of bashing the Democrat Party and everything President Obama stands for.”
In addition to several examples that Curry noted – Mr. Crist urging a Democratic congressman to vote against the health-care reform law and Crist signing a petition calling for a ban on gay marriage and civil unions – there are hits by Democrats themselves portraying Crist as a conservative. Consider an advertisement cut by his Democratic challenger in the 2010 Senate race, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) of Florida.
Crist had been routed in the GOP primary by eventual winner Sen. Marco Rubio (R), but went forward in the Senate race by mounting a campaign as an independent. With Crist threatening to siphon moderate Democratic voters from Representative Meek, Meek cut an ad with quotes from Crist professing his stance as a “pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax Republican” who was “impressed” by Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on the GOP presidential ticket in 2008.
“As the mainstream media rush to portray this as a victory for Democrats, please join me in reminding reporters and the people of Florida exactly what you and I already know; this is political opportunism, plain and simple,” Meeks said in the ad.
Democrats recently went down an almost identical path with former Alabama Congressman Davis. Davis, an African-American who had seconded Mr. Obama’s nomination for the presidency at the 2008 Democratic convention, had been scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on Monday evening. (Monday’s events have been canceled due to the impending storm, Isaac, and it's not yet clear who all will get to speak later in the week.)
In response to that announcement last week, however, the Democratic National Committee released a web video of Davis’s remarks from the 2008 convention. Therein, he effusively praised Obama and the Democratic Party.
“Artur Davis’s speech at the GOP Convention isn’t about Barack Obama,” the ad reads at its conclusion. “It’s about Artur Davis.”
Crist announced his support for Obama in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times, in which he heralds the virtues of Obama initiatives such as the economic stimulus of 2009 and the health-care reform law that Republicans abhor. Crist even goes to bat for the president’s treatment of Medicare within the health-reform law, which Republicans have attempted to define as a “raid” on Medicare funds.
That’s in contrast to how Crist portrayed Republicans. In his op-ed, he said that “an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the [Rep. Todd] Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.”
“The truth is,” Crist concluded, “that the [Republican] party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.”
“Now I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” the presumptive GOP nominee told a big crowd at a picturesque Commerce Township farm. "Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
As you might expect, Democrats and Republicans reacted to this development in, uh, different ways. To Democrats, the remark showed how Mr. Romney is cuddling up with Donald Trump and the "birther" crowd, trying to subtly portray President Obama as un-American, and so forth.
“Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them.... But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America,” said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt in a statement, according to Politico.
To Republicans, the whole thing exposed the hypocrisy of Democrats who stood by while a pro-Obama "super political-action committee" ran an ad implying that the actions of Romney’s Bain Capital led to a woman’s death from lack of health insurance. Plus, it was just a joke, see?
“The joke wasn’t so funny, but the mock horror of the left and the Obama campaign along with the furrowed brows of news anchors is hysterical,” writes conservative Jennifer Rubin Friday on her Washington Post Right Turn blog.
But we think there’s a genuine problem with the joke that neither side has yet touched on. It was made in Michigan. Why is Mitt Romney wasting time appearing in a state that he is very likely to lose?
Yes, it is his home state. Yes, he won the Michigan primary. But we’ll remind you that his victory over Rick Santorum was a squeaker. Michigan leans blue, Romney opposed the auto bailout, and he moved away long ago to Massachusetts and other pastures. His father, George Romney, was a beloved Michigan governor – over 40 years ago.
The RealClearPolitics rolling average of Michigan polls has Obama up by four points. That’s not a huge margin, but in the New York Times FiveThirtyEight polling blog election model, Mr. Obama’s chance of winning Michigan is pegged at an overwhelming 89.6 percent.
If Romney is going to campaign in the upper Midwest, he should spend every second in Ohio, the most important of all the swing states. He should buy a vacation home in Ohio, or move to Ohio. Maybe he could rename his son Tagg “Tohio.” The point is, he should be maximizing his opportunities and making the best use of his time.
So why was he there? Maybe he just wanted to be photographed in front of the iconic red barn at the Long Family Farm in Clarkson, where he appeared. Maybe he was paying back a campaign debt from primary days. Farm owner Chris Long is a GOP county commissioner.
But we think he’d have been better off south of the state border. In Ohio.