It appears that Mitt Romney was a terrible presidential candidate.
OK, some people have known that ever since the story broke about strapping his dog on the car roof. But now we seem to be reaching a consensus.
First, there was that matter of losing the election. Then Romney told some of his donors that while he was pursuing the “big issues,” President Barack Obama had purchased the support of blacks, Hispanics and young people with goodies like college loans and health care reform. College-age women, Romney claimed, traded their votes for “free contraceptives.”
Show them a birth control pill and they’ll follow you anywhere.
Romney said all this in a private conference call, so he couldn’t have suspected that it would wind up in the media. There is no precedent whatsoever for reporters getting hold of remarks presidential candidates make to private groups about the inherent greediness of American voters.
Nevertheless, quite a few Republicans thought it was a bad idea to insult the integrity of American youth and minorities at a moment when everybody agreed that the electoral future belonged to American youth and minorities.
“Romney, take responsibility for being flawed candidate, w/delusional campaign w/no vision,” tweeted Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist.
“I don’t want to rebut him point by point. I would just say to you, I don’t believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Florida is flooded with potential Republican presidential candidates, the top two being Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. That’s reasonable – except, have you noticed that things in Florida always have a tendency to get a little weird? Is it an accident that the woman at the center of the Petraeus scandal – the one with the financial troubles and the glamorous twin – is from Tampa?
For Republicans, the mood after the election was so bad that – I know you will be shocked to hear this – a Republican Party official in Texas advocated leaving the Union.
“We must contest every single inch of ground and delay the baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists at every opportunity,” wrote Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party. “But in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic, and therein lies our opportunity.”
To be fair, you can’t judge an entire state by one county political official. Although Bud Kennedy, a columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, pointed out that Morrison had once been chosen to help screen public school textbooks for the State Board of Education.
Romney supporters couldn’t believe that they had lost fairly. The Maine Republican chairman was breathlessly reporting that “dozens, dozens of black people” had mysteriously shown up to vote in rural areas.
Now things are calmer – perhaps because, if they want to, Republicans can just blame everything on Romney’s poor campaign skills. Really terrible skills! Maybe the worst presidential candidate in American history!
Well, possibly not worse than Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who got only 8 percent of the electoral vote against Thomas Jefferson. But Thomas Jefferson had the Louisiana Purchase. If Barack Obama had bought Manitoba, Republicans would have understood his winning.
And actually not quite as bad as John McCain, who got fewer electoral votes when he lost in 2008 than Romney got. But at least McCain has gone on to provide service to the country in the Senate, such as his current attempts to warn the nation that we haven’t been told enough about what happened during the tragic attack in Benghazi.
McCain was so desperate to sound the alarm that he missed a classified briefing on Benghazi to hold a press conference complaining that he had not been given enough information. Which clearly he hadn’t. He knew nothing! Nothing whatsoever! And what was the administration going to do about that?
“It is essential for the Congress to conduct its own independent assessment,” said the senator, demanding that Congress form a special committee to look into Libya. This would be a double benefit, helping to inform all the members who missed their normal committee briefings while also addressing the continuing national crisis over the shortage of congressional committees.
Afterward, McCain was his normal even-tempered self. (“Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me if I can or not?”)
But you did have to wonder. McCain. Then Romney. Now, all these guys from Florida and Paul Ryan, who when last heard from was blaming his ticket’s defeat on the “urban” vote.
Somewhere, there’s a right-wing Michael Dukakis waiting for the phone to ring.Gail Collins is a New York Times columnist.