Mitt Romney's Low-Content Campaign

In trying to be all things to all people, Romney sounds like nothing much to anyone.


Davenport, Iowa—As a crowd of more than 100 waits patiently for Mitt Romney's late arrival, the sound system blares country singer Alan Jackson: "You must be the dream I've been dreamin' of/Oh, what a feelin', it must be love." That selection suggests it's Romney who is dreaming.

He's been running for president off and on since 2007, but he has yet to persuade most Republicans that he's their fondest desire. Last time around, he campaigned extensively in Iowa, only to lose in the caucuses to Mike Huckabee. This time, Romney is campaigning sparingly here, apparently to minimize any damage if he loses again.

Losing looks like a serious possibility. In the latest We Ask America poll of likely Republican caucus-goers, Romney was running third with just 15 percent, behind Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Yes, Newt Gingrich, who at last report didn't even have a campaign office in Iowa.

Romney probably doesn't aspire to be loved by Iowa Republicans. He'd settle for being liked.

This evening, he's making a rare campaign appearance in the state, with an apparent dual purpose: to demonstrate his compatibility with GOP conservatives, while advertising his acceptability to independents he will need if he wins the nomination. Unlike most candidates, he doesn't take questions from the audience—making sure no one raises unwanted issues that might garble his message.

It's an understandable strategy, but it gives him the look of a football team trying to run out the clock even though it's losing. In trying to be all things to all people, Romney risks sounding like nothing much to anyone.

Tonight, he's at the site of a company called Iowa American Water, speaking in an auditorium-sized garage filled with white pickup trucks. Behind him is a banner with his slogan, "Believe in America," which like his speech has more sentiment than content.

Romney repeatedly strums the patriotism chord, reminiscing about long childhood driving vacations, going from national park to national park. "My mom and dad took me around to fall in love with America, and I did," he says. "I love this country. I love what we stand for."

He is more subtle than many conservatives in casting doubt on Barack Obama's patriotism. "He thinks the Europeans are great," Romney says in a tone of bewilderment. The president and his allies, he insists, "don't understand how America works."

It's hard to believe the flag-waving will be much help to Romney after proving ineffectual for John Kerry and John McCain—despite their distinguished military service. Besides, among the GOP contenders, clinging to Old Glory and scorning the French don't exactly make you stand out.

Romney does indulge conservatives by discussing his plans to cut the federal budget by $500 billion a year in his first term. What he omits is that those cuts wouldn't come close to balancing the budget.

He says he'll kill Obama's health care overhaul. He mentions a few other items he would trim, most of them notable for requiring no discernible sacrifice by anyone within earshot—reducing federal employment and federal pay, going after subsidies to the arts, turning Medicaid over to the states, revamping defense procurement.

Here, the candidate tries to allay fears on the part of people outside the GOP tent, who might get the wrong impression from his budget cuts. "I like, for instance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, I like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," Romney confides. "I don't want them to go away, but I don't want to borrow a billion dollars from China to pay for them."

Anyone listening might infer that he wants to end funding for these programs. In fact, his budget blueprint would only "reduce subsidies" by $600 million—about half of their current spending. "I only want to borrow half a billion dollars from China to pay for them," however, would not be a great applause line.

Looking ahead a year, Romney outlines two possible scenarios for Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012—when morning TV anchors may report that Obama has been re-elected ("No!" voices exclaim in horror). Or we could wake up, he says, to be told, "Mitt Is It."

Could be. Maybe by then, voters will have figured out what Mitt is.



NEXT: No Hugging, No Learning

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  1. Live free and fart in a a jar.

    1. Fartsy rather has captured the essence of the low content libertarian message:

      1. Be content with a advocating “free market” of cigarettes and goodies inside the prison walls of the city-State. Set up a think tank to preach privatizing the prison cafeteria.

      2. Complain how “unfree” you feel, yet never question the prison bars. Even praise the prison walls as “progress.” Call people who dares to identify the prison itself crazy.

      3. Bitch about the warden that the inmates might elect having a low content message.

      The world of the Takers is one vast prison, and except for a handful of Leavers scattered across the world, the entire human race is now inside that prison. Naturally a prison must have a prison industry. It helps to keep the inmates busy. It takes their minds off the boredom and futility of their lives. Our prison industry? Consuming the world.

      […] As long as the food remains under lock and key, the prison runs itself.

      ~Daniel Quinn
      Part 1: The Problem is Civilization

      1. *baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarf*

        1. Not a single reasonable reply.

      2. “They’re coming outta the walls. They’re coming outta the goddamn walls. Let’s book! …

        That’s it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?”


  2. It’s Mitt’s turn.

  3. He is the logical successor to Richard Nixon.

    1. He is the logical successor to Barack Obama, who also ran in 2008 trying to be all things to all people.

      1. Mitt’s hoping he’ll get the same level of scrutiny.

        1. The guy is so squeaky clean I don’t think there are any skeletons to find.

          1. Ha! Ask him why he doesn’t use his real name: Willard.

            1. Would you?

            2. Are there rats involved?

          2. The guy is so squeaky clean I don’t think there are any skeletons to find.

            He’s a Temple Recommend carrying Mormon. Scandal is not his problem. His problem is clueless shit like this: “”I like, for instance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, I like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” Romney confides. “I don’t want them to go away, but I don’t want to borrow a billion dollars from China to pay for them.” ”

            He’s basically running as Obama Lite TM, which isn’t resonating with Republican primary voters.

            1. he’s a Northeast Repub, endorsed by Christie, another Northeast Repub. They are not like the IA crowd and, as governors, could not afford to be. I’m not endorsing Romney but the reality is that the Repub Gov of MA has a different set of challenges than the Repub Gov of, say, TX or IN.

      2. Well Clinton also tried to be all things to all people, and he’s like Marcus Aurelius compared to Obama.

  4. We’re living inside of the dystopic short-story future of some prescient, early 1990s media theorist. [sigh]

  5. Romney is nice hair and a suit. Of course he’ll be elected. We’re that stupid.

    1. Are the nice hair and the suit offset by the silly name? Jeebus, he’s a grown man called Mitt. I use one of those in the shower every morning.

      1. Isn’t a mitt on a furry hand a bit redundant? Or even counterproductive?

        1. I never said where I wear the mitt

          1. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.

            1. A common mistake around here…

      2. Does that mean your the catcher?

        1. you’re. fuck.

  6. so, in other words, Shit Flopney is going to be our next president. If I remember correctly, the current office holder was completely vapid and talked in vague platitudes of Hope and Change.

    1. Mitt Romney makes John Kerry look like Thomas More.

    2. I don’t think it is a done deal that Mitt will win the primary, much less the general election.

    3. going to get destroyed in the general. Republicans have been flying high on enthusiasm these last three years. Romney is going to be the one who kills that enthusiasm.

    1. What’s a few little boys being molested in the face of a winning football team?

      Sacrifices have to be made.

      1. Look at Michael Vick. That guy tortured dogs for entertainment, but hey, he can sure throw that fucking football.

        1. get a grip..Vick went to jail. For dogs. Folks want to let Joe walk into the sunset. For ignoring the rape of a kid.

    2. Premise Fourteen: From birth on?and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case?we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes?and our bodies?to be poisoned.

      ~Derrick Jensen

    3. These aren’t fully-developed people you’re talking about, they’re college students: empty-headed little skulls full of mush. Basically the same kind of kids who fell into the Cult of Obama.

    1. There seems to be at least two groups of protesters. Not sure which side is responsible for the mayhem.

  7. I am still reeling from Rick Perry, I can’t even process Mitt Romney this morning.

    1. One thing about Rick Perry’s gaffe last night, it’s delineated a clear top tier: Romney, Cain, and… what’s the third one there? Let’s see…

      1. Depends, who is running in fourth behind Ron Paul?

      2. The top tier is The Flipflopping Panderer, The Groper, and the Guy Too Stupid to Win Anywhere But Texas Where He Wins Handily.

  8. …but don’t identify the prison walls.

    It’s the libertarian way.

  9. You gotta feel for Obummer. He gave the beltway establishment everything they wanted. Voted for the bailout, backed a Keynesian stimulus, kept the cronyism going and added a layer of green to it, expanded the war in Afghanistan, a gave us three or four more conflicts, expanded executive power to include the assassination of American citizens, kept the domestic surveillance state in tact, and the home fires of torture to both American citizens and foreigners burning, and they are still going to abandon him for Romney. He is a liability to them now.

    Since the establishment gets what it wants I guess we should be asking what to expect under a president Romney.

    1. Oh, more of the same. They just don’t think Obama has the stroke to keep the gravy train running. Time to change the laundry on the facilitator-in-chief.

  10. Sorry guys, this is who you get. A blind man could see he has been the candidate since day one.

    Have fun voting for him. I expect a lot of held noses from both sides at the voting booth in 2012.

    1. Who gives a shit? Our votes don’t count.

  11. thank you a lotsssssssssssssss

  12. thank you a lotsssssssssssssss

  13. thank you a lotsssssssssssssss

  14. thank you a lotsssssssssssssss

  15. Everybody seems determined to find something to attack him on. Why give them more targets? And why does anybody here even care, since you’ve all given up on the idea of a democratic republic.

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