Mitt Romney is making serious noise about another presidential run, so Romney debuted Mitt 3.0 during a speech at the RNC Winter Meeting on Friday.
Mitt 3.0 is Mitt 2.0, but with some more carefully chosen words meant to appeal to the 47%. He came across as almost Palin-level stuck on Obama, still desperately pandering to everyone, and though carefully rehearsed, unsteady on foreign policy.
Showing how warm and personable he will be this time, Romney opened with a stilted attempt at humor and a hip nod to selfies, “So young, everybody has lost weight and grown more hair. I mean as I get older, my eyes get a little weaker, but it sure is wonderful to see you. What a generous welcome. We have been able to say hi to so many of you and get some selfies taken and some other pictures.”
Recounting the heady glory days when he was the nominee for his party in 2012, Mitt Romney thanked the audience, “No greater honor has been bestowed upon me than to become the nominee of the Republican Party for the President of the United States.”
The former Republican governor attempted to plug the holes where he was weak in 2012, to assure listeners that they could trust him to win in 2016. His task was to show: He will not be a doddering fool who destroys diplomatic efforts with one reckless sentence who was likened to Sarah Palin by the British Press. He will not be caught hating on half the country. He will not blame the poor for being poor. He will not assume everyone has rich parents and a world class education. He will not fall into Please proceed, Governor pits. He will be human. He will not etch-a-sketch.
With these goals in mind, Romney announced that 2016 would not be about the Obama years but the post-Obama years, a message that he and the entire Republican Party seem to be unable to comprehend.
Romney has a vision for the future. Romney’s vision includes making the world safer (world peace!), providing “opportunity” for all Americans, and lifting people out of poverty. In other words, he is going to etch-a-sketch his weakness in foreign policy, his contempt for half the country and his clear disregard for anyone but the top 2% into Mitt 3.0.
Mitt 3.0 cares. How do you know he cares? DUH. He just told you with nice, caring (though undefined) words. Romney told the crowd that all Republicans need to do is communicate these things effectively and the American people will be with “their nominee.”
Here’s the part where Republicans always have trouble. It’s hard to “communicate” these ideas “effectively” in the age of the Internet because they can be quickly fact-checked and debunked, and this does not work for policies and ideas that actually harm the people whose votes you are trying to get.
Thus, Republicans are forced into a reliance on racism and sexism and any other tool of division to distract the masses from the great theft in progress. It is obvious that a smugly entitled and privileged person like Mitt Romney is not the best person to trick the people. This is why Republicans run through paper “stars” so quickly.
But it is unfair to lay the blame for Romney’s 2012 failure totally on him. Any politician running for President is going to be put through the ringer. It’s harder these days, and he was just one of the first sacrificial lambs to the modern era when a smile and a polished exterior doesn’t cut it anymore.
Romney went into bitter detail about what is wrong with the world and how it’s all Obama’s fault because he leads from “behind”, with only one slip up in which Romney referred to Libya as Liberia, “Liberia is in disarray. Libya, excuse me, I meant is in disarray.”
Well, okay, he had another minor slip up in which he mispronounced another country but it was better than Mitt 2.0. Overall, however, he was clearly struggling to sound as if he was comfortable with foreign policy (one of his glaring weaknesses in 2012). Romney didn’t project the aura of an expert on foreign policy, one who can discuss these things easily and quickly. He had the feel of a kid who has just managed to memorize those last few countries before the big test and covered this up with a lot of shade thrown at Obama, even though he said 2016 wouldn’t be about Obama.
There was an awkward moment where Romney clearly expected applause for attacking Obama, but it didn’t come. He came off as very stuck on Obama, stuck in the past. He accused Obama of the old GOP canard of being weak and just smiling at our enemies and hoping they would leave us alone. “The world is not safer six years after Barack Obama has been in there is no question about that and I used to joke during the campaign that President Obama didn’t have a foreign policy.”
That is funny only to Mitt and Mitt’s sycophants. This is when clueless Mitt resurfaces to remind us all what we have been missing. It was Mitt Romney who made a fool of himself on the world stage, not Obama.
This is a Fox News myth of the Good Old Days when Republicans were branded with being strong on national security. Then Obama came along and showed them how it’s done, cleaning up their mess. Obama did this while Republicans clowned it up defunding the government, messing with embassy security, hampering the Secret Service, etc.
So those days are over. This is not safe ground for Republicans anymore, but they seem to be utterly unwilling to accept this reality.
After all of this, Romney closed by claiming Obama’s foreign policy as his own, saying economic and diplomatic strength with be the primary sources he will use to provide a safer world. “So in the post Obama era, I think we have to use our strength to anticipate events, to shape events rather than just react to them. When I say strength, I mean economic strength and diplomatic strength primarily. Those will be the sources we will be able to rely upon to provide a safer world.”
So that’s a Bushian nod to preemptive action with “anticipation” and yet also primarily use our economic and diplomatic strength, which is exactly what Obama does. All boxes are checked! If you want it, Romney’s got it. He’s an interventionist and a diplomat, ‘cuz that’s totally legit.
So what’s going to make Romney different this time is that he will successfully sell his “I am everything to everyone” persona. No one will see that one coming.
Watch Romney’s entire speech on C-Span.
Ms. Jones is the 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.