Romney Bungles Speech–And Tries To Cover It Up

Presidential campaigns are to an unfortunate degree about who can avoid making serious gaffes. In 1967 Mitt Romney’s father was the front runner for the ’68 GOP nomination until he said he was brainwashed into supporting the Vietnam war. With such a family history people might be looking more closely at Mitt Romney to see if there are any major gaffes on his part. I doubt this will be as serious a blow to his campaign as his father’s statement had been, but if the Republican nomination comes down to Florida, Mitt could be in trouble:

People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami.

But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro’s trademark speech-ending slogan — Patria o muerte, venceremos! — with a free Cuba, listeners didn’t laugh. They winced.

Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase — in English, ”Fatherland or death, we shall overcome” — for decades.

”Clearly, that’s something he was ill-advised on or didn’t do his homework on,” said Hialeah City Council President Esteban Bovo. “When you get cute with slogans, you get yourself into a trap.”

Romney’s fumble demonstrates the potential snags for state and national politicians trying to navigate the Cuban-American community of South Florida.

Ever since Ronald Reagan enthralled exiles by crying, ”Cuba sí, Castro no,” in a landmark 1983 visit to Little Havana, politicians have clamored, with mixed success, for the Spanish-speaking vote.

Update: It appears Romney is attempting to cover up his gaffe. Foreign Policy reports, “The text of the speech has been changed in the version now available online.” There’s also buzz around the blogosphere, including comments on conservative blogs, claiming that the video was taken down from Romney’s site as well as the sites of some pro-Romney blogs.

It was too late as even many conservative bloggers had already criticized Romney for his gaffe. Some of these are quoted in the comments in response to a Romney supporter who tries to pass off the “revised” version as Romney’s actual text. Besides, we all know that the cover up can hurt worse than the crime.

Update II: More on the political fall out today at The Boston Herald.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Conservative Gladiator says:

    “Liberal Values” your friend Beth is the bungler…

    I think that it’s time to own up what your friends in the media does.

    Here is what Romney said verbatim:

    Romney: “I said at the outset that the threat in Latin America is unprecedented. I say that because the Castros have a second tyrant and he has great wealth, from oil. We must stand just as firm against caudillos like Hugo Chavez, tutored by Fidel Castro. Chavez and Castro are brothers in blood, intent on personal gratification at the expense of their people. Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have stolen the phrase – ‘Patria o muerte, venceremos.’ This phrase should not be used by dictators, but by liberators.

    “There are two spheres of influence in the Western Hemisphere. One is dark, bellicose and spreads misery by denying people basic freedoms; the other shines like a powerful light, is peaceful and wants only for its people to live in liberty and prosper.

    Me: From what I see it says that DICTATORS shouldn’t be using this phrase and that it should be used by LIBERATORS.

    What’s the deal? Sounds like some propaganda to me from the press.

    A bunch of sheep is what you all are if you take what the media gives you and regurgitate it the way you just did.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Sheep. It looks to me like your’e the sheep for pretending Romney didn’t say what he said. If your account was accurate, why would Romney’s campaign take down the video of the event? As Foreign Policy reports, they also changed the text in their on line version. Nothing like a little conservative distortion of the truth. Let’s look at what conservative and other right of center sites are saying about this:

    Human Events writes about how Romney bungled this.

    Captain’s Quarters: The mistake reminds me of people who use words they clearly do not understand, in order to sound more proficient than they truly are. Romney made the same mistake here, attempting to convince Cuban-Americans of his solidarity with their cause. In both cases, the avoidable goof gives the opposite impression: it makes the speaker look like a fool, and a pandering fool at that.

    Hit and Run: At best, this buttresses the image Romney has as a “presidential”-looking guy who’ll say anything his consultants tell him to get elected.

    Ankle Biting Pundits: As someone who grew up in an area of Texas that was majority Hispanic, trust me, you do not want to be the white guy trying to speak Spanish when you have no clue what you’re saying. In my neighborhood it would get you jumped. For Mitt, it may cost him a nice-sized voting block in South Florida.

    Plus Foreign Policy also jumped on Romeny: Oops. A speech writer in Romney’s shop apparently didn’t know that the phrase has been a favorite of Fidel Castro’s for decades. He closes nearly every public address with it. Occasionally, he throws “Socialism or death” in there for good measure too.

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