The Tactical Humorist

02.28.12

Mitt Can't Stop Putting His Foot In His Mouth

The Daily Beast’s Tactical Humorist takes a closer look at the candidate-generated humor of Campaign 2012. This week: a Santorum gaffe and Mitt’s mishegoss in Michigan.

When Mitt Romney gets mocked for something he says, you can bet $10,000 that he’ll say it again the next day. Why? Evidence suggests that Mitt Romney likes doubling down.

After Mitt’s recently ridiculed ode to the Michigan trees that are “just the right height,” his scribes surely crossed it out from his next remarks. But Mitt, I’d wager, penciled them back in. (In fact, the Huffington Post reports that he rescued this head-scratcher from the trash heap of his 2008 campaign.)

And so: on the heels of his poorly received comment about his wife’s many Cadillacs, look for Mitt to mention at least two Cadillacs at his next opportunity. Rather than back down, Mitt Romney stands up to those who practice the bitter politics of envy.

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Reiteration of his ridiculed remarks appears to be a matter of principle of this GOP hopeful. Case in point: Mitt has boldly and uncompromisingly neglected to heed your own Tactical Humorist’s heartfelt pleas to stop reciting the words to “America the Beautiful,” posted repeatedly in this space. For those keeping count (besides me), here is the latest shameless reiteration of his artless gimmick for the voters of Michigan:

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As a candidate whose primary flaw is said to be his lack of “core principles,” perhaps Mitt is wise to hold fast to these signature sentiments, no matter how odd or poorly received. Rather than strike them from future remarks, Mitt chooses to repeat them as an act of defiance, as if to say, “Well, I could go either way on the constitutionality of individual mandates but, gosh darn it, these trees in Michigan ARE just the right height!” The point is, at least he is willing to stand for something, come heck or high water. But doubling down is just another form of stubbornness, so be sure to pick your spots carefully.

Tell Me About Your Mother, Rick.

Rick Santorum did a good job making light of a recent Freudian slip par excellence.

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“If you’re going to make a gaffe, that’s a good one to make, right?” asked Fox Friend Gretchen Carlson. Uh, not really, especially if you are Rick Santorum and your most vocal critics are screaming about your unusually hard-line perspective on women’s reproductive rights. In which case it might actually be the worst possible gaffe.  Let’s put it this way: Rick’s “misspeak” is sure to spawn a week’s worth of opening segments on The Rachel Maddow Show

Of all the multisyllabic p-words that might have mistakenly passed his lips (primacy, plurality, panoply, profligacy, parody), Santorum just happened to vocalize “pregnancy.”  Now I am not a strict Freudian by any means, but that particular word was probably not the breast thing that could have gone into his mouth.   

Sub-Optical Optics

When planning a major campaign event, you want people to remember the stirring words and the stunning visuals.  But probably not these words: “My wife Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.”

And definitely not this visual:

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Scott Olson / Getty Images

So let’s take a moment to reimagine Mitt’s much ridiculed speech at the Detroit Economic Club, or any of his other campaign events across his native-born state. What if, instead of saying oddly humanoid remarks like “I love cars,” Mitt decided to do more showing and less telling. His dad was CEO of AMC, for Pete’s sake!

Here’s something some smart advance guy might have pitched as an alternate form of visual messaging: imagine if Mitt Romney drove around Michigan in a 1964 Rambler Classic, a ’68 Javelin, a ’72 Gremlin, getting out each time to talk to people about what these great old cars mean to him and what the ultimate demise of his father’s company—and the current challenges of the American automotive industry—say about the past, present, and future of America’s place in the world.

But really, all I’m suggesting is what son or daughter of Michigan would not want to vote for a guy who shows up at his own campaign event in a mint ’72 Gremlin? It’s called connecting to people in meaningful ways. Or as Mitt might describe it: “I love connecting to people in deep and meaningful ways!”

Time to try harder. Or at least harder than this:

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