In 1992, Republican Mitt Romney voted in a Democratic primary, backing former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas for the Democratic presidential nomination. He said he did so because he wanted to “vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponentfor the Republican.”
Romney is now railing against the Santorum campaign for trying to get traditional Democratic voters to cross-over and vote in the Republican primary. Romney has called this a “terrible dirty trick” and an “attempt to kidnap the primary process.”
In a press conference in Livonia, Michigan, moments ago, Romney was asked how we squared this criticism with his earlier admission that his 1992 primary vote had been a “vote for the person who [he] thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican.”
Romney responded with a new explanation:
In my case, I was certainly voting against the Democrat who I thought was the person I thought would be the worst leader of our nation. In this case, as I recall, it was Bill Clinton. I wanted someone other than Bill Clinton. I voted against Ted Kennedy, Tip O’Neill, and Bill Clinton. Seemed like a good group to be against.
Watch the video:
While to conservatives, that trio would indeed seem a “good group to be against,” there is no way Romney could have voted against all three that year.
While then-Governor Clinton was indeed on the primary ballot in 1992, Sen. Ted Kennedy was not up for re-election until 1994. Romney should know that, given he ran against Kennedy that year and often brags about the fact that he forced the late Democrat to “take a mortgage out on his house.”
And House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr.? His final campaign for the U.S. House had been eight years earlier, in 1984.
It’s odd that Romney claims to remember events that happened nine months before his birth, but cannot seem remember the 1990s.
By: Josh Israel, Think Progress, February 28, 2012
December 5, 2007
On Sept. 12, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy gave a major speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, on the issue of his religion. At the time, many Protestants questioned whether Kennedy’s Roman Catholic faith would allow him to make important national decisions as president independent of the church. Kennedy addressed those concerns before a skeptical audience of Protestant clergy. The following is a transcript of Kennedy’s speech:
Kennedy: Rev. Meza, Rev. Reck, I’m grateful for your generous invitation to speak my views.
While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election: the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida; the humiliating treatment of our president and vice president by those who no longer respect our power; the hungry children I saw in West Virginia; the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills; the families forced to give up their farms; an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.
These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues — for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.
But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.
Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.
I would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test — even by indirection — for it. If they disagree with that safeguard, they should be out openly working to repeal it.
I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none; who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him; and whose fulfillment of his presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.
This is the kind of America I believe in, and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a “divided loyalty,” that we did “not believe in liberty,” or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the “freedoms for which our forefathers died.”
And in fact ,this is the kind of America for which our forefathers died, when they fled here to escape religious test oaths that denied office to members of less favored churches; when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom; and when they fought at the shrine I visited today, the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died McCafferty and Bailey and Carey. But no one knows whether they were Catholic or not, for there was no religious test at the Alamo.
I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition, to judge me on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress, on my declared stands against an ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I have attended myself)— instead of judging me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we all have seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and always omitting, of course, the statement of the American Bishops in 1948, which strongly endorsed church-state separation, and which more nearly reflects the views of almost every American Catholic.
I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts. Why should you? But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit, or persecute the free exercise of any other religion. And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny their presidency to Protestants, and those which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as Ireland and France, and the independence of such statesmen as Adenauer and De Gaulle.
But let me stress again that these are my views. For contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.
Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.
But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith, nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.
If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being president on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser — in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.
But if, on the other hand, I should win the election, then I shall devote every effort of mind and spirit to fulfilling the oath of the presidency — practically identical, I might add, to the oath I have taken for 14 years in the Congress. For without reservation, I can “solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so help me God.
By: National Public Radio, February 28, 2012: Transcript courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, delivered by JFK on September 12, 1960
Since the firestorm over contraception and religious freedom erupted, there seems to be some kind of consensus that the “culture war” has returned to the fore of American politics. The consensus is wrong. The culture war never stopped.
In fact, former Sen. Rick Santorum explicitly says so himself!
While campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, Santorum said President Obama’s “agenda” is,
not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.
Out of political convenience or cultural distance, Beltway conservatives refuse to see this: Hardcore conservative opposition to Obama has always been cultural and theological. The pop-theological mainstream of American evangelicals has so thoroughly assimilated the ideal of American capitalism that any deviation, however modest, from it is tantamount to radical godless humanism. And, in an extension of an older intradenominational debate, conservative Catholics like Santorum deeply mistrust the ideal of “social justice” as championed by the Catholic left.
As I’ve argued before, the line between culture and economics is disappearing. Santorum has muddied this picture somewhat with rhetoric aimed at blue-collar voters to the effect that he doesn’t believe that if we just cut taxes, ”everything will be fine.”
But such rhetoric, while interesting, is hollow; his economic agenda is full of tax cuts, and I see nothing in it that’s affirmatively different from Republican orthodoxy.
There’s a sense in which the proxy cultural war is nothing new. In Unadjusted Man in the Age of Overadjustment: Where History and Literature Intersect, historian Peter Viereck argued compellingly that the long strand of populism, from William Jennings Bryan to Robert La Follette to Joseph McCarthy, was all about “smashing Plymouth Rock” (i.e., the snooty Eastern Establishment). What McCarthy really hated about the likes of Alger Hiss wasn’t the communism per se, but his resemblance to the likes of Dean Acheson.
As McCarthy said in a famous 1950 speech in Wheeling, W.Va., the ones “who have been selling this nation out” were those
who have had all the benefits … the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in government that we can give. This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouth are the ones who have been worst.
Unlike McCarthy, the Tea Party never felt it had to define Obama as an “enemy within”; born in Kenya, he was the ”enemy without”!
Make no mistake. Such has been the animating spirit of the Tea Party all along. That’s what is fueling the Santorum “insurgency” right now. Culture war is the big picture. Fail to see it, you won’t fully understand the 2012 presidential campaign.
By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, February 22, 2012
As is the case with many politicians, Mitt Romney’s greatest strength is also his biggest weakness. His experience as a corporate executive should make him a good presidential candidate in a year when the economy is bad. However, while the former liberal and former governor of Massachusetts can speak fluently about the economic big picture he is completely tone deaf when he tries to relate to the middle class families who are hurting so badly.
Romney can’t even relate to the average race fan. Yesterday, at the Daytona 500 track, a reporter asked him if he followed NASCAR. Romney said he didn’t follow the sport “as closely as some ardent fans, but I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.” That’s Romney’s problem in a nutshell. He knows the owners of most corporations but doesn’t know any of the employees.
Friday, speaking in Detroit, which is the poorest city in America, Romney told voters that his wife “drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.” Romney could promise to put two Cadillacs in every garage but it wouldn’t have the same ring as Herbert Hoover pledging to put a single chicken in every pot.
Last June, Romney told voters, “I’m also unemployed.” It’s easier for Romney to be unemployed than other people since he has stashed millions of dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. If he keeps talking like that he’ll still be unemployed next year.
Last August he told an Iowan, “Corporations are people, my friend.” If corporations are people, why isn’t the investment firm Goldman Sachs doing a long stretch in a federal pen for defrauding thousands of investors?
Instead of sympathy from the former Bain capitalist, voters get a 59 point economic plan and power point presentations. Then, of course, he asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry to agree to a casual $10,000 bet. I could go on and on, but I don’t have the space here to chronicle every misstep Romney has made when he tries to relate to working families.
Romney’s platform betrays his background as much as his personality.
Mitt supported the Wall Street bailout for bankers and billionaires but opposed the GM bailout that saved the jobs of thousands of auto workers.
Mitt supports the Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget which decreases federal spending for financial assistance for seniors who can’t afford to heat their homes but preserves the federal freebies to big oil to the tune of $4 billion a year.
Romney, like many other prominent politicians, is of the manor born. But Mitt, unlike the others, never developed the common touch. Franklin Delano Roosevelt came from the same privileged background as Romney, but he could talk to an assembly line worker or a farmer without sounding patronizing. When Bill Clinton told Americans in 1992 that “I feel your pain,” he meant it because he had felt the pain as a boy growing up in a poor town in Arkansas. In contrast Clinton’s opponent, the patrician president George H. W. Bush didn’t even know what a super market scanner was.
You can take Mitt out of the manor but you can’t take the manor out of Mitt.
By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, February 27, 2012
Americans have come to expect a certain patrician baseline from their political class. Congress is stocked full of millionaires, and in the 2008 campaign Joe Biden was considered working class for riding Amtrak, despite having a net worth in the hundreds of thousands. No one bats an eye now when Rick Santorum whines about his meager means on the debate stage then releases tax returns revealing that he rakes in over $900K a year.
Yet, Mitt Romney’s wealth has served as an albatross to his campaign. We might be used to millionaires running for president, but Romney would rank among the richest handful of presidents if elected. His vast fortune is more than double the total worth of the past eight presidents combined. Newt Gingrich played on resentments of Romney’s wealth to great success in South Carolina before dialing back his attacks once the Republican establishment turned on him, accusing the former speaker of employing leftist critiques of capitalism.
Romney’s campaign has danced around the issue throughout the campaign, but over the weekend TPM‘s Pema Levy noticed a new strategy emerging from Romney and his friends:
On Friday, Romney had another one of his out-of-touch moments when he said that his wife Ann “drives a couple of Cadillacs.” But rather than try to walk back the comment, team Romney appears to have a new tactic for dealing with this problem.
When Romney and a surrogate were asked about Ann’s Cadillacs on the Sunday talk shows, their response was not to hide or apologize for Romney’s wealth. Instead, their message boiled down to: Yes he’s rich, get over it.
When questioned about the line on Fox News, Romney said, “If people think there’s something wrong with being successful in America then they better vote for the other guy.”
Mitt Romney wants to have it both ways. He sees himself as the fulfillment of the American ideal; the personification of the 1% that many middle class Americans believe they will one day reach, even if upward social mobility is increasingly difficult.
Yet, Romney also presents himself as attuned to the travails of normal working folks. He calls himself unemployed, claims to have once worried about receiving a pink slip, and litters his stump speeches with folksy tales of his normal upbringing (leaving out the years spent in a governors mansion) and starting his own, typical small business.
While the two personas appear to be at odds, Romney could get away with the contradiction if his wealth had been earned through other means. The self-made millionaire is a bedrock part of the American tale. But Romney’s struggles are as much about how he accumulated his vast fortune. Private equity is a largely unknown sector of the American economy, and its mysterious practices have a whiff of the under-the-table financial Wall Street instruments that brought economic ruin to the country. Romney earned most of his $21 million 2010 income, not from direct earnings, but from gains accrued off his investments. Rather than exemplifying the entrepreneurial spirit Americans love, the continued growth of Romney’s bank account highlights the divide between the normal working class and the new elite aristocracy whose fortunes continue to rise based on their already accumulated wealth.
By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, February 27, 2012