He’s baaack: Mitt Romney’s bid for influence

    Halloween is nearly eight months away, but here’s a scary quote guaranteed to send shivers down Republican spines.It’s from Mitt Romney, who is apparently auditioning for his new role as Dead Man Talking:

    “I want to have influence on getting our party into a position where we can be successful…I’m not going to disappear…Sitting on the sidelines when so much is at stake is just not in my nature.”

    So he said yesterday, in his reentry interview on Fox News. Which was probably the last thing most Republicans wanted to hear, because the last thing they need is for Romney to try to resurrect himself as some kind of sage emeritus. Especially since he still epitomizes the GOP’s fundamental flaws. And that was glaringly evident yesterday, when it quickly became clear that, even after four months in exile, he still doesn’t have a clue why he lost.

    Check this out: “The president had the power of incumbency. Obamacare was very attractive, particularly to those without health insurance – and they came out in large numbers to vote….We did very well with the majority (white) population, but not with minority populations. (Because) I think Obamacare attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated in, particularly among lower incomes.”

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    Yep, he’s still insisting that Obama won re-election by essentially bribing “minority populations” and “lower incomes” with government goodies, notably health insurance. What he said yesterday was no different from what he said the week after the election, in a conference call with donors: “You have a bunch of money from the government to a group and, guess what, they’ll vote for you.”

    What’s the point of this guy prepping for the role of Republican futurist (“I want to have influence”), when he still can’t perform a decent autopsy on himself? There’s no need for me, at this point, to detail anew all his failings – his serial lies, his policy flip flops, his shameless pandering to the Republican right (his contention that undocumented workers should “self-deport” probably drove more Hispanic voters to Obama than Obamacare ever did), his infamous “47 percent” speech to fat cats, when he characterized nearly half the electorate as moochers and freeloaders, and so much more. No, what matters most – evidenced again yesterday – is his plutocratic sensibility.

    Romney employs a double standard, and he still doesn’t see it. In his rarefied world, government policies that help the “minority populations” and “lower incomes” are, by definition, gifts – whereas, government policies that help people like him are, by definition, wise. If Obama reaps votes by offering Obamacare, that’s like using “a bunch of money” to buy votes. But when a Republican candidate – like Romney in 2012 – reaps votes from affluent white people and corporate types by proposing lower tax rates, by defending their tax loopholes and deductions, and by offering perks to special interests like the fossil fuel industry…well, to Romney, that’s not buying votes, that’s patriotism.

    Romney does seem to have noticed that he lost at least four crucial states (Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado) because Hispanic voters showed up in record numbers to bury him. On Fox yesterday, he did advise his Republican brethren to make the party less white: “Clearly, we have to do a better job bringing minority voters into vote for Republicans, and that’s Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and other minorities. We’ve got to do a better job taking our message to them.”

    But any Republican with a brain and a pulse already knows that; as respected GOP pollster Whit Ayers warned in December, “the party has run out of persuadable white voters.” The party doesn’t need to hear this from Romney; after all, he’s the guy who pinned his hopes on white voters when the ’12 election was on the line. He truly believed that he was destined to win, because his advisers inside the bubble insisted that the electorate was going to be much whiter than all the outside pollsters said it would be. The outside pollsters – including Obama’s people – consistently showed Obama winning virtually every swing state, precisely because the electorate was going to look like America.

    Romney told Fox yesterday, “We were convinced that we’d win….We knew the energy and passion was with our voters.” But, yet again, he failed to explain why he and his people got it so wrong, why they looked backward and clung to a model of the electorate that, by all accounts, was eight years out of date. Was it an insularity disease? Cognitive denial? Republican white-guy instinct? He repeatedly ducked the opportunity to explain, instead saying things like, “I don’t look back, I look forward.” But why should Republicans indulge Romney on the way forward, when he’s still so reluctant to fully face up to the past?

    Maybe, in the long run, they won’t have to. Romney is slated to address the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on March 15, but, even by his own admission, his bid for relevance may be fleeting. Yes, he did say yesterday that he wants “to have influence,” that he doesn’t intend to be “sitting on the sidelines” – but he also said: “I recognize that as the guy who lost the election, I’m not in a position to tell everybody else how to win, all right? They’re not going to listen, and I don’t have the credibility to do that, anyway.”

    So, which is it? Even in defeat, Romney is still flip flopping.


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1


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