If Governor Mitt Romney truly wanted to change the trajectory of the Republican nominating process in 2016, he could’ve done one of two things:
1) Endorsed a candidate – thereby throwing his fundraising apparatus and more importantly his good name behind a single person; or,
2) Announced he himself would run for President.
He did neither.
Instead, Gov. Romney did what the establishment has been doing for decades…talk.
It took all of about thirty seconds into his condescending, arrogant lecture to remind voters just why they hate the establishment, why they are sick and tired of being used and why they are furious at being told how to vote.
This was a classic Romney performance and production that somehow managed to encapsulate everything truly despised by rank and file Republicans. The staging lacked any sign of love, warmth or heart – ironically, so did Romney’s two failed runs at President. The backdrop was a repeating logo showcasing the Hinckley Institute. Never heard of ‘em – and neither has 99.9 percent of the American electorate – though I’m sure it’s a fine “establishment.”
Get it? There was even a weird shadow cast over the lower half Gov. Romney’s face for which I’m sure a wittier person could produce a metaphor.
What possesses a man who is the silver-spooned son of a former Governor and Chairman and President of the American Motors Corporation to attack a guy for “inheriting” money? But there it was, the candidate of car elevators, two Cadillacs…and yes, Rafalca inexplicably lecturing Americans about the ills of an inheritance.
Vintage Romney elitist verbiage also made an unwelcome appearance. Talking about the election, he said, “…if we make improvident choices, the bright horizon I’ve described will not materialize.” Improvident? Really?
Even Gov. Romney’s attack on Hillary wasn’t clean, clear or concise. He described Hillary Clinton lying to the families of four dead Americans about Benghazi this way, “She dissembled to the families of the slain.” What? And Trump is the bad messenger.
Gov. Romney complained with cute contrived one-liners that Trump was a “phony” and a “conman.” Lapping up every drop of irony here, Gov. Romney was the one candidate for two presidential cycles that was bludgeoned repeatedly for being a “phony” himself…flip-flopping on everything from abortion, healthcare, gay rights, taxes and immigration just to get elected. Oh, and did I mention that Gov. Romney wrote and bragged about Romneycare, which was the blue print for Obamacare?
Attacking Trump’s various business ventures was clumsy, odd and hypocritical.
Back in 2012, Gov. Romney sought and received an endorsement by Donald Trump and in the press conference Romney praised Trump’s business acumen and ability saying, “Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works to create jobs for the American people.” Romney added, “He’s one of the few people who stood up and said, ‘You know what? China has been cheating. They’ve taken jobs from Americans. They haven’t played fair.’” Romney even joked grinning and looking at Trump, “I’ve spent my life in the private sector, not quite as successful as this guy.”
While we’re talking about 2012, let’s look at the vote totals for Gov. Romney in that election cycle compared to the exact same states for Donald Trump in 2016. Gov. Romney had about 2.5 million votes while Donald Trump has about 3.3 million votes. Trump has about 800 thousand more votes than did Mitt Romney in the exact same states – and he’s doing it with a more crowded and better-funded field than Mitt Romney ever had to face.
Donald Trump didn’t get here because of Donald Trump. He got here because of the American people.
There in lies the folly of this feckless attack. Mitt Romney may think he is deriding Donald Trump, but he is really demeaning the American people. Gov. Romney repeatedly begged the voter to really “think” about the charges against Trump – and that’s deeply offensive because it is a clear implication they haven’t done that already. Only the truly out-of-touch would try and tell the GOP voter, “You’re too stupid to know what you need and who to vote for, so I’ll tell you what to do because I know what’s best for you.” The establishment has been pompously pushing this for decades but now, the voters are revolting.
This GOP Presidential campaign has rapidly descended into record depths of dysfunction and quite frankly, every candidate is to blame; and now, sadly, so is Mitt Romney: a good businessman, a former Governor and a former GOP nominee for President, who yesterday, made a very improvident choice.
Gidley is a communications and political consultant with more than 15 years experience on the statewide, national and Presidential stages. Most recently, he served as National Senior Communications Adviser for Governor Mike Huckabee’s campaign for President. Follow on Twitter and Instagram: @JHoganGidley.