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January 25, 2012

Losing His Mojo If He Ever Had It

Norman M. Covert

The locker room echoed with praise for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and it was almost with disdain that my friend and former colleague spat out the name of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. How quickly the room emptied and the showers came on.


“We have a group, ‘Vets for Mitt Romney,’ that is having a meeting," he said, "… and we’d like to have you there.”


The event might provide local information on the Romney campaign for these opinion pieces. It was noted in my best Dale Carnegie fashion that there still is a long way to go. The Romney campaign could fix itself, but today it mirrors that cruise ship off the coast of Italy. It is on the rocks, regardless of what entrenched “conservative” columnists try to tell us.


Never a dulcet-toned orator, Mr. Romney has become defensive, awkward on the stage with whining intonation and has retired his message that “Rome” is burning and the president is fiddling. Mr. Romney’s political fortunes seem destined for failure, but with a multi-million dollar income the past two years, life can’t be all bad for Mitt and his brood.


My reaction to the invitation recalls my retirement from political campaign work several years ago. Friendship has no bearing on my firm decision to retire from political action. My endless hours of brain storming around a dining room table, keeping the books, producing talking points, speeches, advertising and cute handouts are gone.


I have found solace being an election judge. It is a long day of service and akin to my days as a sports writer – you must never pick sides and never put yourself into the story. The job is to write about the game and make sure you put the score in the “lede.”


The gratifying result of being an election judge is that you ensure registered voters are able to cast a free ballot, secure and count the ballots, certify them, post them on the door outside the polling place and hand-carry the results to the election board’s office.


Our team of judges witnessed a clear message in 2008 when candidate Barack Hussein Obama snookered the nation’s electorate (with an adoring mainstream media) – the McCain/Palin ticket never had a chance! I can see Romney and any running mate headed for the same disappointment.


The lesson is clear for any wannabee elected official. You are at the mercy of the voters. They are the final arbiter of your worthiness for public office. Don’t expect them to be like your soccer coach who wanted you to “feel good” after a losing game. The brilliance of a campaign strategy and message is easily bounced by the common people, who use an axe to cast their votes, telling you they simply don’t like you!


The 1948 election victory by President Harry S Truman was said to have provided a lesson for future campaign managers that “your candidate” must shave off any facial hair. It is still conjecture among public relations/image professionals that Thomas E. Dewey’s mustache was a key negative in his surprise defeat.


Regarding my friend’s invitation, I wrote down the date, telling him there is no front-runner in my mind. It gives me comfort that I am one of the desired “Independents,” who apparently just turned the South Carolina primary into a report card on the Romney campaign.


The Monday night debate in Florida scored another victory for Democrats and President Obama. The tenor of the “debate” was vitriol about personal success and failure. It stoked the bonfire that former President Ronald Reagan cautioned against – berating a fellow Republican. Governor Romney had guns blazing casting Speaker Gingrich’s professional and private life in the most despicable light.


The field of GOP hopefuls is down to four. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum hasn’t shown the pizzazz needed for any presidential candidate, regardless of message. ‘Nuf said about Texas Congressman Ron Paul, whose pronouncements often hinge on the bizarre, as wind-blown as the tumbleweed on the prairie.


Newt Gingrich? He may be the only man left standing in this fight. He does have the experience and knowledge base to mount a significant campaign against President Obama, but not if his GOP friends continue to eschew forgiveness for sins of the past. After all, we observe, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder and Newt doesn’t fit the model touted by old-line GOP leadership.


Mitt never really had his “mojo” in the 2008 campaign and he doesn’t have it now. The beat is getting louder that “real” GOP leaders – the voters, may straighten out the Old Guard in Florida next week.


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