In 2006 John Kerry trailed George Bush badly in the polls but he made the race quite close after demolishing Bush in the debates. A few more voting machines in urban areas of Ohio could have changed the outcome. In 2012 John Kerry gets to debate in a presidential contest again–this time playing Mitt Romney in Barrack Obama’s debate preparation. Kerry might have some valuable insight into how Romney might debate:
Kerry has long been considered one of the Democratic Party’s most skilled debaters, and his performances in more than 25 debates in the 2004 race earned plaudits. Some credited his strong debates against President George W. Bush with tightening the race in the closing weeks of the 2004 campaign.
It is his perspective on Romney, though, that could be especially valuable for Obama. Kerry was a key surrogate on behalf of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) when he defeated Romney in 1994. And Kerry closely observe Romney’s successful 2002 gubernatorial campaign, where his performance in debates against Democrat Shannon O’Brien were believed to have helped him win.
“There is no one that has more experience or understanding of the presidential debate process than John Kerry,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist. “He’s an expert debater who has a fundamental mastery of a wide range of issues, including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts. He’s the obvious choice.”
There’s an added irony here. In 2008 Republicans falsely called Kerry a flip-flopper when Kerry’s actual views did not match the views the Republicans attributed to him. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a true flip-flopper, who will say anything at any time to attract votes.
Mitt Romney has spent much of his campaign outright lying about Barack Obama’s views and record. It will be interesting to see what happens during a debate when Obama is present to counter with his actual views and record.
A super PAC supporting Mitt Romney had planned to release an add reviving the Reverend Wright attack line against Obama. Apparently someone in Romney’s campaign realized that this could backfire. Romney said that bringing this up would be the “wrong course” and the ad was dropped. (There is also some question as to whether the PAC actually planned to release the ad or if this was just a way to dominate a news cycle).
Romney might have come out of this looking good if not for the fact that he previously raised Wright when appearing on Sean Hannity’s show in February.
The video is above. Here is a summary from ABC News:
In the clip, after Hannity played a sound bite of Obama saying, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation,” Romney said he believed Obama didn’t understand “that Judeo Christian philosophy is an integral part of our foundation.”
“I’m not sure which is worse: him listening to Rev. Wright or him saying we must be a less-Christian nation,” Romney said.
Romney made matters worse for himself when asked if he agrees with his former statement (which contradicts the view he expressed today). Here is the transcript of the exchange (with video above via ThinkProgress):
QUESTION: “When you did an interview with Sean Hannity in February, you said that you believed that Obama is trying to make America a less Christian nation. It was responding to quote that he had just played for you on the radio. Do you stand by that? And do you believe that President Obama’s world view was shaped by Reverend Wright and do you see evidence of that in his policies?”
ROMNEY: “I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.”
This is reminiscent of the comment which hurt John Kerry in 2004: “”I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” While poorly worded, Kerry’s gaffe actually did make sense in context. There were two different votes with differences in how the supply was funded. Kerry is hardly the only Senator to vote in different ways when there are significant changes in different versions of a bill.
In contrast, Romney’s statement reinforces what we have already seen. Romney will say whatever he sees as politically beneficial at the time, regardless of what he might actually believe, and regardless of the facts.
Someone such as Romney who takes different positions on different days will inevitably have difficulty recalling what position they took on a prior day. It might be fun to ask Romney about more of his previous statements. We could see how many he actually remembers, and how often he will stand by previous statements contradicting current statements.
Mitt Romney sure is making it look like he has something to hide in his tax returns. His father set a standard which Mitt has no intention of keeping: “Releasing a single return wouldn’t prove anything, he told the magazine’s senior editor, T. George Harris. It could be a fluke, or even a cynical manipulation designed to make the candidate look good. What really mattered was how a candidate managed his personal finances over the long haul.” Romney has released one return and an estimate for this year. This provides no information about his tax returns while building his fortune.
Today Romney claimed, “we’ve had people run for president before, and they’ve released two years. John Kerry released two years of taxes.”
No matter what claims you hear to the contrary, the Republicans really are trying to kill Medicare. Past Republican plans would come pretty close to doing that. Now the Republicans are taking this even further with their latest proposal, even extending this to those currently on Medicare. Dana Milbank explained in his column yesterday:
Republican lawmakers announced their proposal to abolish Medicare — “sunset” was their pseudo-verb — even for those currently on the program or nearing retirement.
In Medicare’s place would be a private plan that would raise the eligibility age and shift trillions of dollars worth of health-care coverage from the government to the elderly. “This will be the new Medicare,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the proposal’s author, announced.
For years, Republicans have insisted that they would not end Medicare as we know it and that any changes to the program would not affect those in or near retirement. In the span of 20 minutes Thursday, they jettisoned both promises…
All the details aren’t out, but Paul says his plan would cut funding of Medicare by $1 trillion over 10 years and reduce Medicare’s liabilities by $16 trillion. It would do that by enrolling Medicare recipients in the health plan now used by federal workers. The government would pay 75 percent of the insurance premium on average but 30 percent or less for those who earned more than $100,000 a year. The eligibility age would gradually be raised to 70 from 65. If seniors can’t afford their share of the premium, they can apply for Medicaid, the health program for the poor.
Paul claimed his idea came from the Democrats’ 2004 presidential platform. But John Kerry wanted to extend the federal employee health plan to the general population, not to Medicare recipients. The 2004 platform vowed to “oppose privatizing Medicare.”
Mitt Romney’s statement “I like to fire people” certainly sounds far worse when taken out of context. It is being compared to John Kerry’s gaffe, “I voted for it before I voted against it.” Both quotes have quite different meanings when heard in full context. Romney likes to be able to be able to get rid of insurance companies which don’t do the job (failing to acknowledge that this is exactly what he would be able to do with the exchanges which are to be set up under Obama’s health care plan). Kerry was explaining that he did not oppose military spending and that he did vote for the spending in one bill while he voted against it in a subsequent bill due to a change in how it would be funded.
The problem is that Kerry’s line out of context reinforced the attack on him as being a flip-flopper while Romney’s line makes him sound like an evil member of the one percent as opposed to being a jobs creator. This could wind up hurting Romney because of the determination of Newt Gingrich to undermine Romney’s campaign during the primaries. In this way in is somewhat analogous to Al Gore first raising the Willie Horton attack against Michael Dukakis before the Republicans. (On the other hand, Gore did not make the attack in the same manner as the Republicans later did.) It was one thing for conservatives to say Mitt Romney is not conservative enough, potentially helping Romney in a general election campaign. The latest attacks, including taking this line out of context as well as some valid criticism of Romney’s business record, can undermine Romney’s arguments in a general election campaign.
It remains to be seen how severe this line will hurt Romney’s election chances. One thing is clear. If there ever was a chance that Donald Trump would be made Romney’s running mate, this makes such a move far less likely.
While Mitt Romney, fighting for a Republican nomination whose winner will be chosen by some of the most reactionary and authoritarian voters in the country, has been trying hard to convince the religious right that he is with them on issues such as abortion. Romney wasn’t always this way. The Washington Post describes the Mitt Romney who was Governor of Massachusetts:
Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.
He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.
Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.
The encounters with liberal advocates offer some revealing insights into the ever-evolving ideology of Romney, who as a presidential candidate now espouses the hard-line opposition to abortion that he seemed to disparage less than a decade ago…
The abortion rights supporters came away from the meeting pleasantly surprised. Romney declined to label himself “pro-choice” but said he eschewed all labels, including “pro-life.” He told the group that he would “protect and preserve a woman’s right to choose under Massachusetts law” and that he thought any move to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision would be a “serious mistake for our country.”
I have summarized many of Romney’s flip-flops in the past and I don’t think it is necessary to repeat that now. Unlike the flip-flop charges against John Kerry, which were based upon distortions of Kerry’s views by his political opponents, Mitt Romney is on record for frequently sounding very sincere about polar opposite views on social, health care, and environmental, issues. There are very few things which liberals and the far right Republican base agree on, but one is that Romney is a flip-flopper and neither liberals or conservatives can count on him supporting their goals.
If Romney does win the Republican nomination this will raise issues of character which very well could not only make him unelectable but also suppress Republican turn out and cause them to lose Congressional and various state races. Romney is well aware of the danger he faces, but his response today will not convince anybody:
Mitt Romney, under fire from all sides on the strength of his political convictions, said Thursday he has been as consistent as a person can be during his political career.
“I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be,” Romney said in a meeting with the editorial board of New Hampshire’s Seacoast Media Group. “I cannot state every single issue in exactly the same words every single time, and so there are some folks who, obviously, for various political and campaign purposes will try and find some change and try to draw great attention to something which looks like a change which in fact is entirely consistent.”
Mitt Romney appears to be the Republican front runner but I think it means something (and not that Herman Cain is yet a credible candidate) when Cain is the latest in a string of conservative Republicans to challenge Romney in the polls. (It would also be cause for concern that Cain is beating Obama in a poll if we had any reason to believe that this unknown poll is valid).
As long as Romney is the front runner we are going to be hearing a lot of quiet questions about Mormons and more open attacks on flip-flopping. There were recent articles on Romney’s flip-flops at The Daily Beast and from AP. The comparisons to John Kerry were inevitable except that, while the flip-flopping charges against Kerry were generally based upon distortions of his views and one poorly worded clip taken out of context, Mitt Romney really does have a history of radically changing his views based upon what is politically most expedient. Personally I sort of like the Mitt Romney in this video from 1994:
The DNC is having some fun with Romney’s flip-flops by launching Which Mitt? The web site presents a multiple choice test of Mitt Romney’s positions on various issues. Hint: Go with “All of the above.”
John Kerry explained the problems caused by the tea party influence on the Republican Party which led S&P to downgrade our credit rating on Meet the Press (video above). I discussed this issue more here, including in the comments.
Tea Party Downgrade is an obvious name for what occurred, and John Kerry isn’t the only one who used this term. David Axelrod said the same on Face the Nation:
This was a “tea party downgrade,” said Axelrod on CBS News’ Face the Nation.
Axelrod said S&P’s decision was “largely a political analysis.” “And that’s what we should focus on because what they were saying is they want to see the political system work. They want to see a sense of compromise. They want to see the kind of solution that the president has been fighting for, a large solution that will deal with the problem, that will be balanced, that will include revenues.”
Instead, said Axelrod, conservative, Tea Party-influenced Republicans “played brinksmanship with the full faith and credit of the United States. And this was the result of that.”
“It was the wrong thing to do to push the country to that point” he said. “And it’s something that should never have happened. And that clearly is on the backs of those who were willing to see the country default, those very strident voices in the tea party.”
Republicans’ handling of the debt debate “was atrocious and that contributed to [S&P’s] analysis,” he concluded.
In a stunning development one day after the release of Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President, by Dr. Jerome Corsi, World Net Daily Editor and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah has announced plans to recall and pulp the entire 200,000 first printing run of the book, as well as announcing an offer to refund the purchase price to anyone who has already bought either a hard copy or electronic download of the book.
In an exclusive interview, a reflective Farah, who wrote the book’s foreword and also published Corsi’s earlier best-selling work, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak out Against John Kerry and Capricorn One: NASA, JFK, and the Great “Moon Landing” Cover-Up, said that after much serious reflection, he could not go forward with the project. “I believe with all my heart that Barack Obama is destroying this country, and I will continue to stand against his administration at every turn, but in light of recent events, this book has become problematic, and contains what I now believe to be factual inaccuracies,” he said this morning. “I cannot in good conscience publish it and expect anyone to believe it.”
If they had only taken the same action when it turned out that the claims of the Swift Boat Liars, including Jerome Corsi, was also based upon factual inaccuracies.
Even more unfortunate, this turned out to be a hoax:
for those who didn’t figure it out yet, and the many on Twitter for whom it took a while: We committed satire this morning to point out the problems with selling and marketing a book that has had its core premise and reason to exist gutted by the news cycle, several weeks in advance of publication. Are its author and publisher chastened? Well, no. They double down, and accuse the President of the United States of perpetrating a fraud on the world by having released a forged birth certificate. Not because this claim is in any way based on reality, but to hold their terribly gullible audience captive to their lies, and to sell books. This is despicable, and deserves only ridicule. That’s why we committed satire in the matter of the Corsi book. Hell, even the president has a sense of humor about it all. Some more serious reporting from us on this whole “birther” phenomenon here, here, and here.
Update: Jerome Corsi, who is making a living by lying and smearing people, is now upset that Esquire posted a false story about him and is threatening to sue Esquire. The difference is that Esquire admitted their story was a parody while Corsi continues to spread his lies.