Monday, March 28, 2011

Romney's Strange Role Model

Weird role model, Mitt

Once again, it just writes itself:
“It’s an unglamorous path (to the nomination), just sweat and muscle all the way through,” said longtime GOP strategist and Romney’s top 2002 gubernatorial adviser Mike Murphy.

Murphy compared Romney’s path to that of Walter Mondale in the 1984 Democratic primary, when the former vice president had enough organizational support from the establishment wing of his party to eventually pile enough delegates to fend off Gary Hart.
It's a timely analogy, coming coincidentally on the death of Geraldine Ferraro. Mitt does offer the excitement level of a Mondale, and probably the electoral prospects as well. An apocryphal story about the insularity of Twin Cities media was this mythical headline about the `84 election MONDALE WINS MINNESOTA. So we can look forward to ROMNEY WINS UTAH.

And there's a Screw Iowa zinger:
“The nomination is not going to be decided by one precinct outside of Des Moines,” said a Romney official who was at a Beeson session and is familiar with campaign planning.
Coulda said "Nashua." Coulda said "Myrtle Beach." Coulda said "Reno." Didn't. Said "Des Moines."

But there's one guy they're explicitly NOT modeling their campaign on: "Mindful of Rudy Giuliani’s wait-until-Florida strategic disaster, Team Mitt knows they must do well or at least meet expectations in the initial races to stay in the conversation."

Romney's got that right, at least. In the Manchester Union-Leader, former New Hampshire Republican chair Fergus Cullen offers a brutally accurate critique of Giuliani's failings as a retail candidate:
Wolfeboro is big enough to attract special attention from campaigns. McCain and Romney held town hall meetings there to meet voters, earn support and build their organizations. Giuliani? He stopped at a downtown ice cream stand and got his photo on the front page of the local weekly surrounded by a gawking crowd of... tourists and seasonal residents, not Republican primary voters. This was a typical Potemkin Giuliani event: It looked good to any national reporter traveling with the candidate that day, but the people were just extras.
The whole thing is a must read for any caucus lover. It's similar to a critique I aimed at Hillary Clinton, who understood the surface of the caucuses but not the spirit. But Clinton was warm and engaging with the voters she did meet (she just didn't feel like she had to have a five minute pet issue conversation with every one of them). And she remembered and worked the community of Key Players. Giuliani? Not so much, says Cullen:
In the course of the last campaign, during which I was state Republican Party chairman, I must have met Rudy Giuliani a half-dozen times. But for Giuliani, it was always the first time; he gave no indication of recognizing me. Getting to know individual voters was unimportant. In contrast, McCain and other candidates routinely picked me out of crowds. Mitt Romney even did so at a South Carolina event asking, "Fergus, what are you doing here?"
My own observations: OK, I stood out pretty prominently at Republican events as a lefty interloper. (Hard to be subtle in a raspberry beret.) But of all the contenders of both parties, Rudy Giuliani was the only one I never at least handshake met. Then and now, most of the Republican contenders - John McCain, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee - made a point of introducing themselves to local press and engaging in a little chit-chat along with the questions.

(Tangent: the establishment's REAL beef with Huckabee: "The knock is that Huckabee hasn’t shown any capacity to raise money at the level demanded by a presidential campaign...")

In contrast, there was a faux Secret Service vibe around Giuliani. In October 2007 in Iowa City his people did the whole metal detector, search the bag drill. It was more intense that what we were getting from Clinton and Obama, who actually WERE under Secret Service protection. It didn't get Rudy Intense around Obama and McCain until they were the nominees. (There was a little of this vibe around Romney, but not nearly as intense; just some staffers with unnecessary dark shades and earpieces.)

Of course. Team Rudy may have put me on their enemies list -- and that's the thing, you can just SEE Rudy keeping such a list -- after I wrote the headline "Giuliani: Asked About HIV, He Answers With 9/11."

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