Heading into the Michigan and Arizona primaries today, the Republican field remains a toss-up. Mitt Romney is carrying all the pressure of a frontrunner but none of the grace, while Rick Santorum simply carries the cross.
Arizona is a lock for Romney, leaving Michigan as the primary focus today. Mitt’s home state may have trees of the perfect height and some lovely lakes, but when it comes to Republican voters it is best to connect over the most American of concepts: the automobile. Good thing for Romney, since his father was a hero to the industry, not to mention Governor of the state from 1963-69.
Unfortunately for the campaign-challenged Romney, he has struck the wrong note on just about everything car-related since he wrote his 2008 op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Last week in a cavernous Ford Field, Mitt stood before a few hundred of his supporters (1200) and thousands upon thousands of empty seats (65,000) and offered up yet another cringe-inducing soundbite to the Obama campaign:
“You know, the trees are the right height. The streets are just right. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pick-up truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. And I used to have a Dodge truck. So I used to have all three covered.”
Forget the odd repeated line about the trees or the optics of an “inevitable” candidate standing in a near-empty stadium delivering a flat, overdone speech. Romney seems unable to comprehend how listing his fleet of autos might appear to the average family in Michigan—or the rest of the voting United States. David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser to President Obama, couldn’t help but send out this humorous tweet regarding the entire event:
“Judging from pictures, looks like Mitt pinned himself in inside the 20”
Mitt wasn’t finished though, visiting the Daytona 500 on Sunday in hopes of connecting with the rabid NASCAR crowd. A key demographic in recent elections, “NASCAR dad” is the term that has been used to describe the typical white, male, blue-collar voter, one that Romney needs to attract in a big way. When asked whether he follows the circuit, the multi-millionaire Romney answered with refreshing honesty, in a way that will most likely alienate him from legions of race fans:
“Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
“Tone-deaf” is a phrase that has become synonymous with Mitt Romney this campaign. It recalls the image that was painted of John Kerry in 2004 as an out-of-touch, wealthy Massachusetts politician. But for all of his faults, perceived or otherwise, Kerry did not compile such an astounding collection of ill-advised or plain odd statements the way that Romney has so far in this campaign. Kerry was also derided for his military service—a breathtaking achievement that helped President Bush squeak to victory in 2004—and something that Romney does not have to worry about one way or another.