|The Donald at a GOP/Tea Party Event in June 2011, Photo Credit: E. McBride|
Yesterday, without question, Mitt Romney made a mistake.
It was a stupid mistake, a simple case of a misplaced pause as he was speaking, and a poorly phrased sentence in a live interview.
By now we all know what he said (but I'll repeat it here for future reference when in a few weeks we can't remember what the hullabaloo was all about today)-
"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich; they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90%, 95% of Americans right now who are struggling, and I'll continue to take that message across the nation."Unfortunately he made an unfortunate pause after he said, "I'm not concerned about the very poor." It instantly skyrocketed into the headlines- but not really.
The Romney Camp proved to have superior spinning chops and the story became about how what Romney really said, but how we all know what he said will get taken out of context and used against him.
Let's say that one more time- the story isn't that Romney doesn't care about the poor. The story is that Romney will get taken out of context in the future.
Good job, PR team, you rock.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is crushing rocks with his bare hands out of frustration that Romney was able to spin the story before he could really take it out of context. (And the rest of us are spared future robocalls and negative ads hearing that comment taken out of context, because we all already know the truth.)
This is a great example of how at this point the candidates are out of real material. They have said everything they really have to say. If you haven't figured out where they stand on the issues now, it is your own fault. So rather than continuing to say the same things over and over again, it is time to change strategy. They will do what they have been doing, and that's try and rip the other guy apart, and deflect the negative attacks on themselves. And more than anything else, it is time to bring in endorsements that make the audience sit up and listen again.
And that's why Donald Trump matters.
He's The Donald. Trump. The Hair. The Celebrity Apprentice. Playboy. Billionaire. A Walking News Story!
People know he wants to get involved in politics, but they have no idea what he stands for. (But I do!) And to those who don't know his stances better, they can't imagine why he is on stage with Romney.
Back in June I had the chance to hear Donald Trump speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Here's what I learned - He's pro-life and Catholic. He hates ObamaCare. He is still proud of himself for making Obama produce "that excuse for a birth certificate." He occasionally refers to himself in the third person. And a few quotes, "OPEC is laughing at our leaders." "Our leaders are stupid, you know, right? I'm not a politician, I can say stupid." The thing he said that really bothered me was regarding the war in Iraq." To the victor go the spoils." He believes that the U.S. (and Allies) have the right to take over the Iraqi oil fields, and take the oil from them. He also wants to give a million dollars to every Iraqi family hurt by the war, and to every American soldier wounded or killed in the war, from the profits of those oil fields.
One thing that really stood out for me that day was how he could rattle of taxes, laws, numbers, and figures without a teleprompter or text in front of him. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump understands business and finance.
And Romney has everything to gain from having a near lunatic standing on the stage with him. People are going to sit up and listen when The Donald starts talking about taxes, money, and the economy. And The Donald and Romney are right in line when it comes to the fiscal issue. Through The Donald, Romney has the chance to get a new audience to listen to his fiscal solution.
The Donald is a great strategy for Romney to again spin the media message. After The Media crowns their front-runner, and set their sights on him, all hell breaks loose. They forget about the little guy and turn their full attention on the Big Fish. Two weeks ago (South Carolina), they had hoped it would be Newt Gingrich **, now they are going to turn the big guns on Romney. The religion story has been played to death. They are tired of his politics. And he doesn't talk about moon colonies, child janitors, or make enough gaffes for The Media to make it a circus. Which will leave The Media with nothing to do but beat the crap out of him. The only way to survive that sort of attack, is to give them something else to talk about.
Enter The Donald.
**(because he is so full of fodder for them to write about. Dana Milbanks at the Washington Post wrote an absolutely priceless piece on this exact subject today. A few quotes-
“All of our friends in the news media,” you said, “are very excited and eager to end this race as early as possible.” In our hurry to crown Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, you seem to think, we’re trying to use your wipe-out in the Florida primary to declare an end to your campaign... You give us exactly what political journalists crave. Sure, some of us are ideologically biased, but we are far more biased in favor of conflict — and that's why we’re all in the tank for you. We’ve loved you since you created the modern era of politics-as-blood-sport in the House two decades ago. When a preacher opened an event for you this week with a prayer that God “embolden” you, only our journalistic detachment prevented us from shouting out: “Amen.”)