Thursday, November 01, 2012

Desperation hath no shame: Romney's phony "relief" effort in Ohio

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"You know, I'm totally into this whole giving thing. Voters like that."

Or, to put it another way, Romney is desperate and has no shame, and is consequently ramping up his relentless deluge of dishonesty.

BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins has the sordid details. Read the whole piece -- it's really worth it. Here's a taste:

But even as Romney, clad in blue jeans and rolled-up sleeves, hustled around his area of the gym, shaking hands, thanking supporters, and stacking cases of bottled water on top of each other, signs of stagecraft remained.

As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan T-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!"

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?"

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."

Great, eh? Okay, here's more:

The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.

But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.)

At more senior levels of the campaign, careful consideration was being given to the tone of the program, officials said.

In other words, it was theater, a photo-op to try make it seem like Romney cares, really, really cares, and is doing something, really, really doing something, to help with the relief effort. Which is to say, it was a campaign event masquerading as an expression of generosity and leadership:

The cryptic advisory went out to press several hours later, announcing the time and location of a "storm relief event" on Tuesday. As Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, Romney's campaign jet carried the candidate, along with his staff and traveling press corps, back to Ohio after an afternoon rally in Davenport, Iowa.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Dayton, aides were working feverishly to depoliticize the planned event. Campaign signs were removed from the premises, long rows of folding tables were set up, and logistics were painstakingly arranged to accomodate physical donations.

And all the more pathetic given that it was in Ohio, which Romney is desperate to win (and where he's solidly behind in the polls), and given that President Obama is providing "outstanding" (Chris Christie's word) leadership by doing a great job in a time of crisis.

Am I being too hard? Okay, the president is doing presidential things, but shouldn't Romney be praised for helping in whatever way he can?

Sure, but he's not helping. As Jon Chait notes, "Coppins doesn't mention that donating goods rather than money is not only inefficient or even useless, but counterproductive, forcing relief organizations to divert resources to stow them." And, again, the Romney campaign was managing this as carefully as they do everything Romney does. It was meant to score political points. Period.

And it was typical phony Mitt.

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  • I hate to pile on Romney here, but this was terrible. Even though he isn't president, he could have acted presidential. This whole thing was more posing. Even if he weren't vile in all other ways, is this who we want as president?

    By Anonymous Frankly Curious, at 1:01 PM  

  • were there any storm victims as far out as the campaign stops in Ohio? Did the stuff at least maybe get to homeless shelters?
    doh, is all I have to say. That $5000 would have been better photographed as a big check going to the Red Cross.

    By Blogger Daily Goddess, at 2:37 PM  

  • I wonder how many people will notice that he donated $5K to hurricane relief, but was willing to wager $10K with Rick Perry when questioned about his leadership record.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 AM  

  • I wonder how many people will notice that he donated $5K to hurricane relief, but was willing to wager $10K with Rick Perry when questioned about his leadership record.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:13 AM  

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