Want a photo-op with Mitt Romney just after Sandy made landfall in New Jersey? Just grab a pre-purchased jar of WalMart peanut butter and hand it to him at his
“Victory Rally” “Relief Rally”. Heck, “Just grab something.” It’s not as if it matters what it is, because this is all just a Big Show.
Today we discover that those supplies at the Romney “Relief Rally” were not all random donations but rather buttressed with $5,000 worth of goods purchased by a desperate campaign as props. The campaign planned to photo op Romney accepting food from supporters and loading a truck with food after the event, but what if no food showed up? Buzzfeedis reporting:
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)
What makes this so outrageous is that the Red Cross did not want the items the Romney campaign collected in the first place. The Red Cross would have been better served with a $5,000 cash donation from the campaign. But that wouldn’t have allowed Romney to pose with canned goods and water as the Caring But Refusing to Answer Questions Republican Who May or May Not Want to Privatize FEMA.
Mitt Romney’s “relief rally” yesterday rang more like a typical campaign rally, except for the oddly similar stacks of food and water he photo-oped himself loading into a truck after the event. It was odd to see, for example, what appeared to be multiple bags of uncooked rice going to people without power, but whatever, right? No one ever claimed Romney or his followers were practical sorts.
The press was not impressed with Romney’s transparent attempts to keep campaigning through a disaster even before they knew it was staged with props, and they called him out on his “Victory Rally” (as their press passes read) repeatedly:
They also called him out on his failure to answer questions about his position on FEMA. The campaign explained that the Victory Rally badges were printed up the day before, but what kind of campaign doesn’t reprint them for the optics alone?
Given Romney’s stance that we should privatize FEMA and turn it over to the private sector, his own failure to do anything other than use the storm as a prop is not only indicative of his craven character, but also kills the entire premise of his privatization cries. Republicans like to tell us that the private sector will step up. Will they, then? Would you imagine that a multi-millionaire with money stashed all over the world might step up? Or do you think that multi-millionaire might only care about how he appeared to the Victims whose votes he needs?
This is what Romney meant when he said all campaign events would be canceled. Because, see, this wasn’t a campaign event per se. It was a photo op: Mitt Romney as Purchaser of Prop Canned Goods that the Red Cross Doesn’t Need.
Meanwhile, as Romney posed with canned goods pre-purchased by his campaign and pretended he wasn’t the desperate liar who was also smearing Chrysler and GM, Republican Governor Chris Christie was making the rounds on TV to discuss the serious damage done to his state by Sandy. Christie also made the point over and over again that President Obama had been “wonderful” and had cut through red tape to make things happen.
Republicans, never able to keep their pettiness to themselves even during national crises, took to the airwaves to express dismay that Obama had been too competent and too prepared. Bush’s former FEMA director during Katrina accused the President of addressing Sandy “too early”, as opposed to waiting say five days while Americans starved in pools of their own urine or drowned waiting for FEMA.
“Just grab something!” Anything. Anything at all will do. It’s not like real people need real food. It’s just a photo op with stage props.
This should surprise no one after Paul Ryan’s blatant abuse of a soup kitchenwhere he posed without permission from the folks in charge with dishes real Americans had already cleaned. Ironically, Ryan left the soup kitchen in worse shape, as people were outraged by the politicization and blamed the soup kitchen for Ryan’s abuse. Photo-oped compassion. What’s next? Will they start photo-shopping themselves at hurricane relief centers with their tidy, neatly pressed rolled up sleeves and wooden smiles?
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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