Romney bought $5k of food for people to “donate” back to him at phony “hurricane” rally

You See Victims, Romney Smells “Opportunity”

OMG.  It IS Paul Ryan and the soup kitchen!

From McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed:

But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)

Romney phony relief event for Hurricane Sandy

Distributing birther-inspired anti-Obama t-shirts
at the “non-partisan” rally.

Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.

Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”

No relief for you!

We’ve all been through it before. Grandma’s getting old. Mom goes and buys grandma’s Christmas gifts, or maybe mom even gives you a 20 and tells you to buy yourself something from grandma, then wrap it up for Christmas eve – and make sure you look surprised when you unwrap your gift in front of grandma!

And that’s okay, cuz grandma’s 90 years old and has a hard time getting around.

What’s Mitt Romney’s excuse?

Team Romney Admits “Relief” Event Was Staged for Political Reasons

I also found this part of the story fascinating. The Romney campaign admits that the intent behind the rally was swing state election visibility, not hurricane relief:

But Boston wasn’t quite ready to lose a full day of swing state visibility with a week left in the race. So, after some deliberation, the campaign decided to use their existing venue in Ohio to stage a makeshift, and nonpartisan, humanitarian project. It would be a way for Romney to show leadership — and get on the local news — without looking craven or opportunistic.

They weren’t willing to lose a day’s visibility in a swing state, so they came up with the event and crafted it in a way that would still get them political benefit, but would camouflage the intent.  So, as I predicted, Team Romney saw Hurricane Sandy – saw the imminent peril of tens of millions of Americans – as a political “opportunity” to exploit.

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.

And as the reports from the rally prove, Romney’s “relief event” was a lot of partisan politics, and not much relief.

And keep mind, the Red Cross doesn’t want these “donations.”  The Red Cross specifically says on its Web site NOT to give it donations of goods.  It needs money and blood donations.  When people send goods, it requires staff time to go through, distribute them, etc – time that is better spent working on more efficient means of helping disaster victims.  And I quote from the Red Cross Web site:

Unfortunately, due to logistical constraints the Red Cross does not accept or solicit individual donations or collections of items. Items such as collected food, used clothing and shoes must be sorted, cleaned, repackaged and transported which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel.

It’s the “Chinese Jeeps” of Charity Events!

Mitt Romney spent $5,000 on a political stunt when he should have simply donated the $5,000 to the Red Cross. But had he donated the money, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good a PR event, and remember, with Mitt Romney, it’s not about helping people – it’s about fueling his ambition.

Need more proof? Jennyjinx on Twitter just noted the following:

@aravosis Why couldn’t Romney have asked his supporters to write a check or plop money in a can?

The Romney people decided that you “had” to have food in hand in hand to donate, or they wouldn’t let you in.  But if you didn’t have any food, they’d give you some food they bought – food the Red Cross doesn’t want.  Why didn’t the Romney people at the very least ask people who didn’t bring food to write a check, or donate cash?  They could have a laptop sitting there with a connection to the Internet, and people could have donated to the Red Cross via the Red Cross’ own Web site.  But they didn’t.  Because this event wasn’t about helping the Red Cross or Hurricane Sandy’s victims.

How long until Romney voters try to destroy this charity as well?  Then again, by intentionally impeding the Red Cross’ hurricane relief work, they’re already off to a good start.

PS Compare Romney’s made-for-TV stunt with what President Obama did when visiting FEMA HQ this morning:

No TV cameras allowed.  But, what – you say – the President isn’t trying to make hurricane relief a partisan media spectacle of opportunity?  Clearly, un-American.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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