After Ann and Mitt Romney appeared on Fox News Sunday March 3rd with Chris Wallace, a spate of opinion writers with the Wash & Wear Post and one New Yorker writer weighed in and urged “sour grapes” Ann to “move on “.
s2 = ss = stylish satirist
Ann Romney needs to move on
Posted by Jonathan Capehart on March 4, 2013 at 8:42 am
There is a grand tradition of the previous occupant of the Oval Office going into a kind of hiding. Not a “hidden to the world” kind of exile, as the pope emeritus finds himself in, but still keeps a low profile. And he most certainly keeps his mouth shut about his successor, lest he be accused of meddling or resentment. A pity that this custom doesn’t extend to failed presidential candidates.
Of course, I’m talking about the Romneys. Yes, both of them. Mitt might have have been the Republican presidential nominee, but his wife, Ann, is suffering from a serious case of sour grapes.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that aired yesterday, Mitt mostly did okay. He still feels that he would have been the better president and that the sequester nonsense we’re in now would not have happened were he in the White House. Still, when Mitt was asked whether he engaged in second-guessing or battled anger, he said the right things and struck the right tone.
No, you look back at the campaign and say, OK, what did the president do well and you acknowledge that his campaign did a number of things very effectively. Of course, you rehearse all the mistakes that you made. And I went through a number of my mistakes, I’m sure. And then you think about the things that were out of our control. But you move on. I mean, I don’t spend my life looking back. It’s like, OK, what are we going to do next?
Ann hasn’t moved on.
“Oh, for me, yes. I cried,” she admitted to Wallace. “When you pour that much of your life and energy and passion into something and you’re disappointed by the outcome, it’s very — it’s sad. It’s very hard.”
“It’s an adjustment. You know, it’s interesting; in our church, we’re used to serving and you know, you can be in a very high position, but you recognize you’re serving,” she said. “And now all of a sudden, you’re released and you’re nobody. And we’re used to that.”
“I’m mostly over it. But not completely,” she said. “And you have moments where you, you know, go back and feel the sorrow of the loss.”
Oh, for Pete’s sake.
None of this should come as a surprise. There were many examples during the campaign of Ann’s imperious belief that she deserved to be first lady of the United States. And in December, The Post’s Philip Rucker had a superb story about Mitt and Ann Romney’s post-loss life. According to friends of Ann’s, Rucker reported, she “believed up until the end that ascending to the White House was their destiny. They said she has been crying in private and trying to get back to riding her horses.”
As the Fox interview painfully made plain, Ann is still crying. She needs to follow her husband’s example. Quit the rhetorical waterworks and move on.
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Why Ann Romney is wrong
By Chris Cillizza , Updated: March 4, 2013
Ann Romney insisted in an interview with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace over the weekend that the media was to blame for her husband’s loss in the presidential race last fall.
While the media is a convenient (and common) scapegoat, Ann Romney is simply wrong when she says: “I believe it was the media’s fault as well, is that he was not giv[en] — being given a fair shake, that people weren’t allowed to see him for who he was.”
Here’s why. (Make sure to read WaPo’s Erik Wemple’s piece on Ann Romney too. It’s here.)
Mitt Romney had two great positive selling points when it came to introducing himself to the American public: his business record and his faith. He talked about neither at any great length — or on the sort of terms that might have helped his chances.
Let’s start with Romney’s Mormon faith. It was no secret that many within Romneyworld viewed the fact that he was a Mormon as a major reason for why his campaign never caught on among social conservatives in places like Iowa and South Carolina in 2008.
And so, coming into the 2012 race, it was clear from very early on that Romney would not speak extensively (or really at all) about his Mormonism. Romney avoided talking about his faith even in openly religious settings; in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Romney gave his faith only a passing mention.
We understand why Romney was worried about putting his faith at the center (or somewhere close to it) of his campaign. Mormonism is still a religion with single digit percentages of adherents in the United States and its newness — within the broader scale of spiritual movements — has led to widespread skepticism.
Still, what Romney never could prove to people during the campaign was that he had a core set of beliefs — that he was something more than just a politician’s politician, willing to bend whichever way the prevailing wind was blowing. And, what’s evident from the stories that were written about Romney’s work with the Mormon church is a) it was and is a huge part of his life and b) his actions were, by and large, quite admirable, and would have endeared him to the general public.
Put simply: The story of Romney’s Mormon faith is the story of “Mitt Romney as good guy.” That story never got told. And, no matter what Ann Romney thinks, the fault for that lies not with the media but rather with the campaign or, more accurately, her husband’s discomfort or unwillingness to talk about his faith.
Then there is his business background. While Romney did talk much more openly about what he did with Bain, he was constantly cowed by the negative storyline being told by President Obama’s campaign and other Democratic groups about his work as a “vulture capitalist.”
Rather than seize the narrative — yes, I backed some companies that failed but I backed lots and lots that succeeded and here are their stories in detail — Romney wound up defaulting to a canned line about successes like Bright Horizons and Staples. As a result, the Obama campaign was effectively able to take Romney’s “successful businessman” narrative and use it against him, turning what should have been a great strength as a major weakness. (Sort of like John Kerry’s military service being turned against him by the Bush campaign in 2004.)
And, even putting aside the fact that Romney failed to sell the two best positive messages of the campaign, the “blame the media approach” comes up short again when assessing the biggest negative of the race: Romney’s “47 percent” comments.
Romney said those words. The media didn’t force him into it or play “gotcha”. He failed to remember that nothing you say is private when you are running for president of the United States. Yes, the media covered the remarks but Romney helped elongate the story by a somewhat slow response to the initial controversy and a semi-apology for what he said initially.
We are well aware that the Fix is a member of the media, and so defending the media’s role is viewed as a sort of “dog bites man” story by many people. Point taken. But, an examination of what Romney did and failed to do strategically when it came to letting people know who he really was makes clear that the blame lies firmly with the candidate, not the media.
Remember: If you are bad at tennis, it’s not the racket’s fault.
Ann Romney blames campaign and media for the same thing
By Erik Wemple , Updated: March 3, 2013
Here’s a sound bite that’s sure to get all kinds of rotation over several news cycles this week. “I’m happy to blame the media.” That’s what Ann Romney said to Chris Wallace in a much-anticipated Fox News interview.
For what failure was Ann Romney singling out the media?
“The thing that was frustrating to me is that people didn’t really get to know Mitt for who he was,” she said. “People weren’t allowed to see him for who he really was.”
Wallace asked her if her discontent with her husband’s public image was connected to news accounts last fall that she and her son Tagg Romney had badgered Romney campaign executives to let the candidate be himself. Politico, for instance, reported as much on Oct. 9—that Ann and Tagg had urged a “‘let Mitt be Mitt’ approach they believed more accurately reflected the looser, generous and more approachable man they knew.”
Ann Romney confirmed the story to Wallace. “Well, of course—it was part–true,” she said, before including another, large entity in the equation: “But it was not just the campaign’s fault—I believe it was the media’s fault as well,” she said. “He was not being given a fair shake.”
There’s a mound of contradiction in Ann Romney’s critique. On one hand, Ann Romney confirms her frustration that the campaign kept too tight a lid on the candidate. On the other hand, she complains that he wasn’t portrayed more completely in the media. Problem: The campaign controlled the media’s access to the candidate, so blaming them both at the same time is a touch precious. Or perhaps it’s a luxury you’re afforded in the rearview mirror.
The quandary of access and humanization cited by Ann Romney spills forth from an Oct. 15, 2011, story in the New York Times by Sheryl Gay Stolberg. Titled in classic New York Times style, “For Romney, a Role of Faith and Authority,” the story dug into Romney’s very active history as a lay leader of the Mormon church in Massachusetts.
Though it mentioned an unfortunate incident or two in the candidate’s past, the effect of the piece (which this blog has mentioned before) was humanizing, just the picture Ann Romney told Chris Wallace the media should have emphasized. It told of Romney’s significant efforts to assist a 19-year-old college kid who had descended into alcoholism. It encapsulated his involvement in the construction of a Mormon temple. And it broke the story of Ted and Pat Oparowski, parents of a teenage son who died of cancer “three decades ago,” according to the story. Romney “ministered” to the child, wrote out a will for him and gave his eulogy.
Here’s an interesting passage from the story: “Mr. Romney declined to be interviewed for this article. Facing a primary electorate in which Christian conservatives are a powerful force, he is trying to keep his religion from becoming a barrier to his election.”
March 4, 2013
Ann and Mitt Romney’s Lost Fairy Tale
Posted by Amy Davidson
“I think I’m mostly—you know the great ‘Princess Bride’ line, ‘mostly dead’ ”? Ann Romney said. “I’m mostly over it. But not completely.” This was in response to Chris Wallace, of Fox News, who’d asked if she’d “gotten over the defeat”—and revealed that there was more than one category of nineteen-eighties fairy-tale reprises we were spared when Mitt Romney lost the Presidency.
Mitt was sitting next to Ann, talking about other lands of make-believe, like Disneyland, one of the first places he was spotted after the election (“We were just living our life”) and the one in which he would have made Congress act sanely (“It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done”).
Even Romney seems to realize that his role in political life now is as a counterfactual, not that of any sort of leader or wise old man. Ann told Wallace, “I totally believe at this moment if Mitt were there in the office, that we would not be facing sequestration right now”—but there doesn’t seem to be much call for him to step in to play the deal broker. His wife was wearing a shiny jacket, and he had the bland, affectionate smile, with its hint of suppressed tumult, that’s familiar from the campaign; more Mr. Magoo than Cincinnatus.
He will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference next week, and he and Ann have a foundation, but it sounds from his interview that he’s been filling his time with a lot of babysitting, and not in the sense of grooming political heirs: “I mean, it’s virtually every day. We see the—one grandchild or another every day.” He is “kicking balls, hitting baseballs” and fulminating about how Obama is still “campaigning” rather than making a grand bargain:
This is America we’re talking about, at a critical time. And—and, you know, Nero is fiddling.
More telling than Romney calling Obama Nero is that, for him, our crises have the abstract distance of Rome’s. After the interview, Bill Kristol told Wallace that he was reminded (“with all due respect”) of Gerald Ford. Even Republicans can’t quite believe that Romney was almost President.
But there is one use that the Republican Party still has for Romney, and that is as an object lesson in defeat. The stories that the Romneys tell about that one are a bit of a jumble: Ann blamed the ground game; the media, which didn’t give Mitt “a fair shake”; and that they weren’t “as aware of the passion that was coming from the other side. I think we were a little blindsided by that.” There was a failure to imagine that voters could really, really want Obama. (The more technical aspect of this was models that assumed that minority and youth turnout would be lower than in 2008.)
Wallace asked Romney about his suggestion, in a conference call after the election, that that enthusiasm had been bought with gifts to certain groups. This was a variation on Romney’s comments in the forty-seven-per-cent video, in which, he told Wallace “I didn’t express myself as I wished I would have.” He isn’t doing much better now, telling Wallace that “the Obamacare attractiveness” had cost him votes, “particularly among lower incomes.”
How that said anything bad about either Obamacare or the outcome of the election wasn’t clear. (The G.O.P. is at risk of deforming itself around its suspicion that there is something not quite straight about poor people and minorities voting in large numbers; that notion has already twisted up Justice Scalia.) “We did very well with the majority population, but not with minority populations. And that was a—that was a failing,” Mitt Romney said.
In the most self-aware moment of the interview, Romney talked about the primaries, which he said hadn’t made him more conservative but were nonetheless “unhelpful”: “In some of the debates, for instance, you get asked questions that are kind of silly.” As an example of silliness, he mentioned “the famous question, you know, if you could get ten dollars of cost savings per with only a dollar of tax increase, would you go along with that?” Romney had raised his hand to indicate that he’d turn down the deal; now he said he’d felt that he had to.
WALLACE: But you would have accepted ten dollars in spending cuts—
MITT ROMNEY: Well—
WALLACE:—for a dollar in revenue.
MITT ROMNEY: Yes, that’s—that’s a fairy tale, because no one is going to give you ten dollars in spending cuts for a dollar in revenue increase. You’ve got to—if you’re going into a negotiation, you’ve got to stand for your position, know they’re going to stand for theirs, and then recognize that there’s going to be some compromise.
So Romney thought that the primaries were peddling in fairy tales? The theatre of the absurd might be a better description. He is right: getting everyone to reject a ten-to-one deal was “silly.” But, in Washington, the G.O.P. has rejected any new revenues and the sequester rolls along. Looking back on the campaign, Romney said, “We were on a roller coaster, exciting and thrilling, ups and downs. But the ride ends. And then you get off. And it’s not like, Oh, can’t we be on a roller coaster the rest of our life?” Maybe Congress thinks that we can. As for Romney, the G.O.P. is over him—mostly.
Ann Romney reflects on the election loss
Mar. 4, 2013 A look back at the 2012 campaign.
Ann Telnaes/ The Washington Post