Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Defending the undecided voter

It’s time to offer up another lukewarm defense for someone who didn’t ask to be defended. I did it before for Bruce Danielson. This time I’m sticking up for the undecided voter.

It is a timely defense, because Tuesday’s presidential debate questions come from those who haven’t committed to voting for Barack Obama’s re-election or Mitt Romney’s challenger bid. Saturday Night Live did a great skit about undecided voters, a mock-commercial that sums up many of our thoughts about people who have not yet made a choice. I’ll post the video at the end.

As further evidence against the non-committal types I found a site that purported to show who undecided voters are. In some cases it’s not pretty. They have less education, less money, little in retirement savings, are more likely to be unemployed, less likely to be married but more likely to have kids living with them in homes they don’t own.

Given the swing in poll numbers since the first debate, I can see why some in America are troubled that it’s on these people that the election hinges.

But I’m going to suggest, with no evidence whatsoever, that there may be a significant segment of undecided America that is thoughtful, perhaps even quantifiably liberal or conservative, who have yet to make a decision. Allow me to offer some examples. They’re hypothetical, but I bet you could find people who fit this category.

The Ronulan or Libertarian: Ron Paul supporters were asked to be good little soldiers and support the Republican banner carrier, even though they were hosed at the Republican National Convention when they had their last chance to make a meaningful stand. It’s not what happened at the convention, though, that makes them undecided. Sure, they probably like Romney’s economic policies better. But he might not go far enough their direction, and Romney’s foreign policy pronouncements about how engaged America should be might frighten them. It’s not that they like what Obama has done, but it might the preferable option of the two candidates who have a chance to win. Same goes for backers of the actual Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson who nonetheless don’t want to see a vote wasted. The waffling may be a question of which policy position matters more.

The sad liberal: Many liberals rejoiced when Obama was elected and created unrealistic expectations they should have known to temper. He said all along he would listen to everyone. Whether he did or not is an argument conservatives would like to contest, but nonetheless what Obama put forward were not bigtime liberal solutions, most notably on financial regulations, the economic stimulus and health care reform. First off, any stimulus at all leans liberal, I’ll grant you that. But the one that got through was not nearly as large as the most liberal suggested it needed to be. Furthermore, much of it was tax cuts that you and I are still getting. The 2 percent payroll tax cut has never gone away. On financial reform anyone can see that loud as many will complain about Dodd-Frank, some of the complaints are that it didn’t go far enough. He didn’t force banks to break themselves up into smaller pieces, and he didn’t nationalize any. On health care reform you have to know liberals wanted universal health care, with the government acting as the national insurance company. Instead he championed a program that required everyone to get insurance, which made it possible to get other reforms in place and ensured that insurers had more customers. So, a liberal disappointed on so many fronts might be considering voting for Romney, hoping that his performance will be so bad that a new liberal candidate could have a chance in 2016.

The pragmatist: A liberal pragmatist might have voted for Kerry in 2004, but when the economy tanked was glad his guy didn’t win that year, ushering in the age of Obama. That person might conclude four more years of Obama would be bad for liberals generally. A conservative pragmatist may dislike Romney enough, for whatever reason, that the thought of him becoming president for possibly eight years seems worse than living with Obama for four more. And there are those who are middle-of the-road pragmatists, who just want someone who can make the country work better.

Of course, the Saturday Night Live image is more fun, but I wouldn’t put these people in the “likely voter” category.

’47 percent’ may not matter much after all

I always suspected this about cats. This comes from sodahead.com.

Four years ago I relied much on the RealClearPolitics website to find a broad mix of stories related to the political noise of the day. Who knew that four years later the site would still be my most valued source on national issues at a time when hot sites become relics within weeks?

I found two pieces today that offer reasoned (a rare adjective these days) discussion on what Romney said. And to be clear, I believe what Romney described as “not elegantly stated” should more accurately be described as “as wrong calling a cat a fascist.” That is, the 47 percent he named, those who don’t pay income tax, are not all the “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

That said, it has opened a conversation about the fact that 47 percent don’t pay federal income taxes. And that’s where Debra Saunders is taking us when she says,

“…the result is an America in which close to half of voters can support any scheme designed to expand the scope of federal government, secure in the knowledge that they likely will not have to pay for it.”

On the flip side, it is worth discovering why there is 47 percent not paying federal income taxes. It’s not just because of the snoozy economy. Steve Chapman, in an editorial that is (I’m warning you now.) highly critical of Romney and his statement, (The title, “Romney’s Dependancy Delusion” is a clue.) explains it this way, among others:

“Since 1990, the number of people getting Social Security benefits has risen by more than a third. That’s not because the government has suddenly enlarged the program in an effort to undermine self-reliance. It’s because there are more old people.”

RCP also links a Washington Post blog post by Aaron Blake, who says the gaffe probably won’t matter in November.

Which reminds me, the Atlantic Monthly has a graph showing historical evidence that Romney’s comment will have little impact on the election’s ultimate outcome.

Local GOP delegate at Tampa convention gets national news play.

During the brief bit of Mitt Romney’s speech I watched live last night, (I was more interested in the Cougar game and will watch the speech online before I leave work today.) I thought I caught a glimpse of Arna Souza, the Bremerton local who went to Tampa as a delegate. It got me wondering if with all the media there whether our delegates netted any other coverage nationally.

Silverdale’s Donna Hamilton, wife of Kitsap County Republican Party Chairman Jack Hamilton, was the clear winner, getting two mentions. No one else in a brief Google search I did was mentioned.

Donna Hamilton was referenced on a New York Times blog The Caucus in reference to Ann Romney’s speech and in USA Today for her apparel choice designed for TV coverage.

If you hear of anything else I’d be glad to post it here.

And by the way, if you want to see if Souza did show up on TV, go to C-SPAN and watch there. It was around the time Romney mentioned his father George Romney having a flower delivered to his wife every day.

POTUS pool report ends on a sexy note

When there is limited press availability for certain events we resort to pool reports. It’s one occasion where competing news organizations cooperate with each other. One reporter gets assigned to cover the event and share notes with other press outlets. I loved the one we got from Thursday’s visit by President Obama. Read it and afterward I’ll share some other stuff about pool reports. Today’s report comes from Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times.

At Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, Pres. was introduced by Suzanne Black, a biology teacher at Inglemoor High School in Kenmore.

Ms. Black related how she was diagnosed in Mar. 2005 with stage 4 ovarian cancer. “Instead of writing tests or grading them I found myself facing one of the toughest of my life,” she said. After a long stint of chemotherapy she got a letter from insurer saying she’d already used about three fourths of her $1m lifetime cap of insurance benefits.

Three weeks later Obama signed the health care law, ending those caps. “So today I realized my dream of being able to say to someone who truly represents us — or as my students would say — someone who has my back President Obama – thank you.”

The President entered to a standing ovation and lengthy applause from the crowd of 2000. He called Black’s story the kind of thing you “don’t read in newspapers.” He recognized most of the Democratic electeds on hand, including “soon to be Governor Jay Inslee.”

Like in his earlier speech, the president did not lead with gay marriage – he spoke mostly of the economy and the contrast between him and Republican Mitt Romney.

Pres. introduced Romney as “a patriotic American” who has raised a “wonderful family.” POTUS said Romney should “be proud of the success he’s had as CEO of a large financial firm” — drawing snickers from the crowd. But, POTUS said, Romney assumes that when CEOs get rich “the rest of us automatically do too.”

POTUS mocked Republicans as offering nothing new “There is nothing you’ve heard from them where you said ‘man, I didn’t think of that – that’s fresh, that’s new.”

Sticking to a theme of “moving forward,” POTUS contrasted his plans to spend money on infrastructure and education with the Republicans, who he said would rather just give tax cuts to the rich.

Finally, more than 22 minutes into the speech, POTUS got to the reddest (locally raised, grass fed) meat for the liberal crowd, declaring he would not “go backwards” on health care reform and abortion rights.

And he directly endorsed Washington’s gay marriage law, taking sides in the likely Nov vote on Ref 74. Pres. told the crowd: “We are moving forward to a country where every American is treated with dignity and respect, and here in Washington you’ll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly.”

Much applause ensued.

After the half-hour speech, POTUS and motorcade zipped back south on I-5 to Boeing Field, and Air Force One lifted off just after 4 p.m. for California and the fundraiser at George Clooney’s house. I am told he is an actor who is sexy.

If you’re like me, it’s the ending that got me the most. I also liked the parenthetical comment within “red meat.”

Being with the Kitsap Sun, one of the smaller press outlets in the Puget Sound region, I’ve pretty much accepted that I probably won’t be invited to be the pool reporter at something like what we had today, a sitting U.S. President campaigning or visiting the area. If he comes to Bremerton it might be different, but as much as I’d love to do it, I’m not getting the nod for anything in Seattle. We do sometimes fight for that role when there is a particular local angle, but this occasion was not one of those.

I did get an invite to go see Air Force One land and take off. I would have loved to have done that. But it would have been the equivalent of journalism tourism. I saw the plane anyway. I saw a Tweet that the plan was taxiing at Boeing so I went outside and noticed there was no air traffic. Then a single jumbo airliner rose in the sky. I could tell it was white. I couldn’t quite make out the light blue, but I think I saw it. It made a turn and looked like it was going to Clooney’s house.

And not long after that I started seeing lots of airplanes. So I’m pretty sure I saw the president fly by and I didn’t have to endure the hassle of a Secret Service security check.

My name is Mitt Romney. I’m a candidate for president, and I’m a Mormon.

In 1972 Wayne Owens, a Democrat, got himself elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah. He was considered one to watch nationally, but got a little ahead of himself and ran for Senate in 1974, losing to Jake Garn. Owens eventually made it back to Congress more than a decade later.

Owens was an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. He was also a Mormon. The LDS church came out against the ERA, which Owens said surprised him. He continued, nonetheless, to support the amendment while the church moved forces against it.

In 1975, after Owens lost his Senate race, LDS church leaders asked him to serve as mission president in Montreal.

That position, mission president, meant he oversaw the work of about 200 missionaries trying to convert people to Mormonism. So Owens, an Equal Rights Amendment supporter, was asked by a steadfast Equal Rights Amendment opponent organization, to lead that organization’s recruitment efforts in the Montreal area.

I bring this up because of two developments. One is Texas Baptist Robert Jeffress’ decision to publicly back Rick Perry for president, because he is a Christian the way Jeffress is a Christian, That to Jeffress’ mind makes Perry a more suitable president, because he believes Romney shouldn’t be president, because he is Mormon, and therefore not a Christian, but a member of a cult. Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll made a similar case this week just on the cult question. I’ll get to the cult discussion below.

Jeffress later claimed he got a call from a woman who is the daughter of a former Mormon Bishop who agreed that Mormonism is a cult.

I have a hunch who that woman is. My guess is it was Tricia Erickson. She wrote a book, “Can Mitt Romney Serve Two Masters?” She sent out an email after Jeffress’ statement, not claiming to be that woman, but with a headline, “Mormon Bishop’s Daughter Agrees with Jeffress, Mitt Romney Belongs To A Cult.”

Full disclosure: I am a practicing Mormon. This discussion comes at an interesting time for me, personally, but that is a separate issue for a different forum. I served a mission for the church in Chile and married my wife in the Salt Lake City LDS temple.

Erickson, in her book and frequent emails, makes arguments against Romney’s bona fides as a conservative. I won’t discuss those here. I would argue it’s fair to ask any Mormon candidate his or her stance on marriage rights for homosexuals, civil rights for blacks and women and, if it interests you, on polygamy.

Another issue Erickson raises could give non-Mormon people pause in considering Romney. It is her assertion that comes from language that is part of the LDS temple ceremony, language Erickson believes means if LDS President Thomas S. Monson called Romney on the phone and told him to run the country in a certain way, that Romney would have to do it.

In the press release she quoted the temple language and followed it with ” . . . Mitt Romney absolutely must obey the religion of Mormonism and the Prophets of the Mormon Church first, before his allegiance to our country. His very eternal exaltation to godhood depends on it.”

If history could show evidence that this has ever happened, anyone would be justified in doubting whether a Mormon should be elected to anything, unless you’re OK with someone taking orders from Salt Lake City. I don’t know of any instance that it happened, not in recent history. In fact, I’ve given you the example of Wayne Owens, chosen to be a mouthpiece for the church in a region even though he disagreed with the church’s reasoning on a pretty significant issue of that day.

I became a member of the church in 1973 when I was 11 years old. Over the years I have heard members of the church question how someone could be an active, temple-going member of the church and still support some political ideas. But I have never heard that from church headquarters.

The church’s official statement on this is:

“Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.”

Example number two: In 1933 Utah was among the final three states to ratify the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, despite the protests of LDS President Heber J. Grant.

On the cult question, Jeffress and Driscoll make the case that under one religious definition of “cult,” Mormonism is one. They say that because Mormonism differs with “Orthodox” Christianity, it is a cult. They are both using a religious definition of “cult,” which is not the same as what Driscoll calls the “popular sensationalist” definition of cult.

Fine. You can call Mormonism a “cult,” then. To me, that seems to be the point. They want to call it a cult, so they find a way to do it. Driscoll calls what Mormons teach “Whacky,” (sic) as if the LDS definitions of God, Christ’s resurrection, or the nature of Heaven are any more wacky than traditional Christianity. Both teach that Jesus rose from the dead and that it is through Jesus that people will be accepted into Heaven. I’m not sure how one is wackier than the other.

When I hear “cult,” though, I think Jim Jones and David Koresh, the popular sensationalist definition. Whatever the LDS church may have been in its early years, it’s not Jones or Koresh now. I am assuming most people hear the word “cult” and think the same thing I do. As it is there are many critics of the LDS faith who make the case that the church’s practice come awfully close to that definition.

But for Jeffress and Driscoll to argue that Mormonism is a cult under a particular, narrow, less-often used definition is like arguing a poodle locked in a closed car in the summer is a hot dog. It’s technically true, perhaps, but is highly misleading.