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Rachel Maddow Slams Romney for Substituting a Photo Op With a Pile of Cans for Leadership

Rachel Maddow slammed Mitt Romney for putting his political need for a photo op with canned goods ahead of the stated needs of the Red Cross. Video:

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Transcript from MSNBC (sic):

The president canceled all campaign events today and tomorrow. His opponent, Mitt Romney, said he was canceling all campaign events. this one did stay on the schedule. Romney/Ryan victory rally. Dayton, Ohio, October 30th. This was the traveling press pass handed out for the Romney event today. It was tweeted out by reporter Ari Shapiro. The event had previously been planned as a campaign rally. they kept it in the same place as the rally. They kept the event at the same time as the Romney rally. Mr. Romney appeared with the same celebrity endorsers scheduled for rally and led with the vote for Mitt Romney biographical video that they play to start their campaign rallies. Because they wanted credit for canceling their rallies out of sensitivity to the people suffering from this storm, they went ahead with this one mostly as planned but said they did not want it to be described as a rally. Instead, they wanted people to call it a storm relief event. They did ask people attending the rally to bring canned goods as storm relief, and Mr. Romney did a big ornate show of being seen to be handling canned goods which the campaign made a big show of saying would be donated to the Red Cross so they got the photo op they wanted. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Romney’s photo op today also models for the nation what Mr. Romney believes to be the appropriate way to help if you’re concerned about this giant disaster. And that’s the problem, because however well Mr. Romney’s piles of cans work for him as a photo op, that isn’t actually what the Red Cross wants or needs people to do to actually help. Look at the Red Cross website. Question, I would like to donate clothes, cars or other items to charity. Does the American Red Cross accept donated goods? Answer, unfortunately due to constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual items, collected food, used items or clothes must be repackaged, transports which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel. financial contributions allow the Red Cross to purchase exactly what’s needed for a disaster relief operation. People have an instinct to gather up blankets, canned goods that may be of direct help. it’s an unbl and laudable instinct. Occasionally, there’s a direct need for a specific physical need to be donated in which case relief organizations ask for that thing. Otherwise canned goods and other random supplies however well means give these organizations a whole new extra job they don’t want to be doing, sorting through and storing random stuff they didn’t ask for. It’s a positive instinct that makes us want to give canned food and groceries and true those kinds of donations are generally not much of a help. One thing we need public leadership for is to bridge the gap between what feels good for us to do, what feels like helping and what actually does help. This is one of those things you need visible, competent, calm leadership for to say actually it’s coming from the right place but what the red cross needs from you, from all of us is not canned goods, it’s money. and here’s why, this is not a hypothetical thing. This is one of the things you’re supposed to do as a leader at a time of crisis. right now if you want to help, send money to the American Red Cross.

As with many things related to Mitt Romney, it wasn’t the action itself, but the decision to do it in the first place that reveals his true priorities and qualities. The urge of most Americans when disaster strikes is to offer help, but Mitt Romney exploited this urge for political gain by substituting a photo op for real help. Mitt Romney put his own need for a photo op ahead of the needs of the Red Cross and the victims of the disaster. Romney exploited the human urge to help others for political gain. Mitt Romney made it clear that his presidential campaign takes priority over the needs of relief organizations and the victims. While President Obama was working with Republican Chris Christie, Mitt Romney couldn’t even reach out to work with the Red Cross. Romney’s mentality is that of a CEO, not a national leader. The difference between the two candidates was clear. Barack Obama put disaster relief ahead of his campaign for reelection. Mitt Romney put his campaign first by exploiting a disaster for a photo op. If Sandy is a test of leadership and priorities, Obama looks like the president that he is, while Romney revealed that he refuses to acknowledge anything beyond his own needs.

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