Barely three hours after he spoke, Mitt Romney’s birther quip was the top campaign story on Google News with over 3,500 articles.
Rather than trying to walk back the comment, RNC communications director Sean Spicer went on the attack in an MSNBC interview: “Look, it’s — I mean, it’s a light-hearted moment, he was stating a fact.”
Lets take another look at what Romney said:
“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate, they know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised.”
What the RNC’s Spicer said is literally true. Romney was stating a fact — but he was not just stating a fact. He was also reminding his audience of the racist birther canard.
Rush Limbaugh believes that this is part of the Romney-Ryan game plan:
LIMBAUGH: Stay focused. Romney and Ryan in Michigan. Big, big crowd. And here is Romney, I’m convinced, test-driving something. I think this line is a test drive.
So Ryan’s out there talking about Obama and his bitter clinger quote. And Romney gets up to the microphone. It’s his turn to speak, and he test-drives that line about nobody’s ever had to ask to see his birth certificate.
I’m going to tell you what. You know, I’m gonna make a prediction for you. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. The Obama-bashing at the Republican convention is going to be delicious. It’s going to be five-star-restaurant type stuff. I mean, you’re going to love it.
So according to Limbaugh, the GOP conference strategy is to spend the week calling Obama names and reminding everyone that he’s black, and they’re not supposed to like blacks. So much for wanting to get away from negative campaigning to have a real debate on the issues.
People can make the case for this being a clever, planned move on Romney’s part, but I think they are wrong. The footage of the rally looks to me as if Romney got jealous watching Ryan getting a big reaction by throwing red meat to a willing crowd, so Romney decided to get some of that applause for himself. And in so doing, Romney threw away the chance to set the media agenda the weekend before his convention — rather than talking about the economy, which is supposedly a plus for Romney, everyone is talking about whether Romney intended his comments to be racist.
Romney really isn’t a team player, he is a CEO who has to be the only star.
Before this story broke I was working on a post that began, “There is a large, dangerous mass of wind headed for the Republican nominating convention in Tampa. Unless tropical storm Issac forces the convention to be cancelled of course, in which case Donald Trump will have to make other plans.”
Romney’s gaffe probably means that Trump, the high priest of birtherism, will be making different plans for the convention next week. Assuming Romney realizes the errors of his ways, and understands that his birther joke wasn’t a gotcha, it was a gaffe, we might be spared the ‘hilarious’ surprise video where Donald Trump fires an Obama impersonator.
Unless that is, Romney wants to double down on and go full birther.