Romney’s plan to steal the election

“Romney’s plan to steal the election.” That’s my headline. The phrase in the underlying article is a little more … visceral. Here’s their headline (h/t Susie Madrak for the link):

Romney’s plan to ‘cut the nuts off’ an Obama second term

Not to put too fine a point on it. The Romney plan would be to do either — take the election away from Obama, or failing that, set up an illegitimacy perception that lays other groundwork. Not good either way.

One nightmare election-stealing scenario

Some explanation. There are several nightmare scenarios in which Republican aggressiveness could be used to trump Democratic timidity (or collegiality, or complicity; your choice on the phrasing). One of them is what happens if Obama wins the Electoral College but loses the popular vote.

First the strategy, then the logic. The strategy involves Republicans pumping up the popular vote in states Romney will win — Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, as well as the obvious Utah (click for an electoral map). At the same time, they count on Obama to pull his resources out of states he’s clearly winning. Hello, California, where the Sacramento Bee notes “both presidential candidates [are] devoting little time or resources in California.”

Changing the margin of victory has two effects. First is the one we’re going to talk about, the nut-cutting strategy. The second has to do with down-ticket races. I’ve been hearing substantial talk since 2010 that Obama does little to benefit down-ticket races, and this seems to be borne out in California, where the same Sacramento Bee article states (my emphasis and reparagraphing everywhere):

No matter what happens nationally, the presidential race is all but decided in California, with President Barack Obama maintaining a double-digit lead in the polls. Yet how well the rivals perform could tip the scales in the state’s most competitive congressional and legislative races. The narrower Obama’s win in the state, the better for GOP candidates on the rest of the ballot.

Dan Lundgren, one of the worst of the CA Republican representatives, gets his name mentioned as a potential beneficiary of this Dem strategy.

The logic of this move is obvious, yes? Maximize power. What else are modern Republicans about. Couple that with the obvious tendency of Democrats to surrender power and you have another perfect storm, for us.

They’ve tried to steal elections before

But back to nut-cutting. The strategy requires a full-on frontal assault, something Republicans are very used to doing. Perhaps Florida in 2000 comes to your mind. But there are many more instances.

Recall that in 2004, Republican candidate for governor in Washington state Dino Rossi, running against Christine Gregoire, narrowly won the initial popular vote count, lost in the second (manual) recount, and then took the case to court alleging massive vote fraud — where he finally lost. If I recall correctly, that was the last 2004 outcome to be determined, and it seemed to take forever. Rossi was apparently never going to give up.

Al Franken’s election in 2008 went the same way. Norm Coleman and his team of Republican lawyers kept Franken out of the Senate for eight months, tying him up in court. As the linked article points out, Coleman’s goal wasn’t to win, but to delay, to take one for the Republican team in the Senate:

It became obvious to Coleman, a few weeks after the election, that he would lose the court battle, because Franken would win despite any court rulings about how the ballots were recounted. So Coleman’s post-election strategy was to delay, while Franken’s post-election strategy was to win. Coleman benefited from delaying because the Senate was down one Democratic vote as long as Franken was not seated. In other words, Coleman extended the court battle as long as possible to perform his final duty for the Republican Party.

This is the “never surrender, never retreat” approach that Republicans often and easily resort to. Why would they not do it now? I know I would if I were conscienceless and power-mad.

They planned to steal the election in 2000 as well

Now let’s look at 2000 for a minute. Bush ultimately won the electoral vote thanks to partisans on the Supreme Court, who took the almost unprecedented step of interfering in a presidential election to select their favorite over the people’s. (Another application of “never surrender.”)

But what if Bush had won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College? Well, they apparently had a plan for that as well:

Bush Set To Fight An Electoral College Loss

They’re not only thinking the unthinkable, they’re planning for it. Quietly, some of George W. Bush’s advisers are preparing for the ultimate “what if” scenario: What happens if Bush wins the popular vote for President, but loses the White House because Al Gore’s won the majority of electoral votes? … “The one thing we don’t do is roll over,” says a Bush aide. “We fight.”

How? The core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course. In league with the campaign – which is preparing talking points about the Electoral College’s essential unfairness – a massive talk-radio operation would be encouraged. “We’d have ads, too,” says a Bush aide, “and I think you can count on the media to fuel the thing big-time. Even papers that supported Gore might turn against him because the will of the people will have been thwarted.”

Local business leaders will be urged to lobby their customers, the clergy will be asked to speak up for the popular will and Team Bush will enlist as many Democrats as possible to scream as loud as they can. “You think ‘Democrats for Democracy’ would be a catchy term for them?” asks a Bush adviser.

The article mentions two things that don’t pertain here, in my opinion. One, that Bush’s target would be the Electoral College itself, to encourage faithless electors. Romney’s target, should he pursue such a strategy, would be broader; it would set up the delegitimization of the entire Obama second term.

The second pointless point in the article is the notion that Gore would also pursue such as strategy. Foolish thought; Gore wouldn’t even stand up for himself in the Senate when that time came, much less throughout the nation.

What does a 2012 election-stealing strategy look like?

Now the Romney article again. First, on the source of the information that this is one of Romney’s actual plans. Note that there are two Republican insiders mentioned here, a donor and a fundraiser. They should not be confused for each other. It read to me like the fundraiser is the source, and the donor passed the fundraiser’s information to the article writer, Cliff Weathers:

A New York GOP fundraiser told a past Romney campaign donor in a phone call that “Mitt has a plan should he not win the electoral vote,” according to the donor. “We think we can make a compelling case to the American people,” she reportedly said. The fundraiser then said “we’ll throw everything we can in the way” of a second term for President Barack Obama.

The donor asked if this was the strategy of the Romney campaign, the fundraiser replied that she “got it directly” from people working for the former Massachusetts governor. NYaltnews will not reveal the name of the past donor or the fundraiser, according to the donor’s wishes.

The donor works as an officer at a Wall Street private equity firm, and has donated to Republican, Independence, and Democratic Party candidates for New York City Mayor, and New York Governor, State Senate, Assembly, and Congressional races in the past. … The phone call was reportedly made for a banking-industry PAC that is supportive of Romney, not the Romney campaign. The donor who contacted NYaltnews says the fundraiser had previously contacted him on behalf of the Romney campaign, as well as the campaigns of two New York Republican members of Congress in the past year.

Your guess is as good as mine on the veracity or value of the source. Given the way the power-mad Republican mind works — and past performance — I would personally be shocked if this weren’t at least being planned out. In fact, I call it megalomaniac-incompetence if the R’s forgot this time to game this scenario.

Is this actually happening? The article notes the following:

Curiously, Romney has began airing commercials and ramped up campaigning in states not considered battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Oregon. Some political observers say this is being done to gather stray undecided voters in these states and increase the chance and margin of a popular-vote victory.

Not evidence, but certainly suggestive. Again, this works especially well in combo with an Obama strategy that ignores the popular vote.

Romney may be preparing a set of talking points that the Electoral College is essentially unfair and back this argument with a massive Fox News and talk-radio blitz that would fuel doubt in the legitimacy of an Obama win. The goal is to turn public sentiment against President Obama with a message that the President’s campaign thwarted the majority of the people. It is has also been speculated on the Democratic-leaning blog, DailyKos, that Romney might be the first presidential-race loser to refuse to concede the election.

There’s more in the article; you really should click over. The strategy, if pursued, would include all of the pieces of the reported 2000 Bush strategy — Fox News; talk radio; dueling pundits (pundit-on-pundit violence); business “leader” and CEO-influence on employees; “non-partisan” preachers who suddenly love “democracy” — plus whatever else the phrase “full-on attack” implies these days. Why go at all if you don’t go all-out?

A test, of course, is it see if Romney concedes or pursues a Dino Rossi–Norm Coleman strategy as described above. A slow concession would be a huge tell in my book.

By the way, that colorful phrase about man-parts isn’t the writer’s; it’s that Republican donor’s, the one who passed along the story:

[S]aid the donor … “I don’t think they want to steal the election by saying ‘the popular vote should be counted instead of the electoral vote,’ I think they want to cut the nuts off a second term for Obama.”

Bottom line

Let’s see how this plays out. If it plays out at all, I’ll look down the road at what actual delegitimization looks like. Remember, its uses have advanced since Clinton days. They could be sneaking up on rebellion this time, though none would call it that.

If this strategy dies for lack of water — or a sufficiently fertile opportunity — it dies and we move on. If it lives however, I’ll try to work out the options. In my cynical mind, this may be worse than you might suspect. Stay tuned.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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34 Responses to “Romney’s plan to steal the election”

  1. Heidi says:

    Every country that the Central Banking System has infiltrated has caused a rift in the public, and on every level. Look at Russia, look at Germany, look at Palestine, look at Libya, look at EVERY other COUNTRY they have destroyed — They took over the USA in 1913, and they have been using us to conquer the world for them. Democrat/Republican there is NO DIFFERENCE, the agenda still progresses. Obama is a puppet of the Bankers, just go look at where the majority of his funding came from, Romney is the same.

    Oh and gosh gee, the author obviously is an idiot — why? Because somehow Romney was “stealing” the votes, yet Obama “won” — WOW no one could have seen that coming. Nope uh uh.

    The only person out of the “candidates” that made any sense was Ron Paul — but the majority of the American public are lemmings who have lost the ability to think for themselves — “I saw it on TV — it MUST be real” — Sorry to say, but all “news” organizations are owned by the major Corporations who have a vested interest in the USA’a Foreign Policy — they STEAL the natural resources of foreign nations when WE invade. 

    In 2003 an Appellate Court in Florida ruled that the Media has the right to distort, or lie to the public. The FCC is only a “policy” it is not a “law” — they have distorted what the First Amendment means, because it doesn’t cover lying.

    Stop being used.
    Wake Up.

  2. BeccaM says:

    Um, no. That’s not what I meant at all. The last thing this country needs is an actual civil war. It -feels- like the 1850s. I’m hoping we don’t go there.

  3. TrueAmerica says:

     Yeah and just like in the last Civil War the North is gonna beat the crap out of the South!!! Time once again to show the Red states who the real patriots are the, the TRUE America.. the original 13 states.. the union, love it or leave it.. off course when you try and leave it we will occupy you, repopulate you to our pleasing and redistribute your property..

  4. Holden Litgo says:

    This explains why, just for a moment last night, it appeared as though Rove on Fox News was actually, as absurd as it might sound, claiming that Oregon was “in play” for Romney. We know the idea of stealing elections they can’t win starts in his pea brain.

  5. Swami_Binkinanda says:

     This seems to be a sort of stream of consciousness rap about the hijacking of Christian beliefs by cynical politicians on the right, citing the story of Christ’s favorite follower, the Roman tax collector, who prayed in a closet and never publicly made shows of his faith, which would be considered antithetical to what Jesus was proposing and was contrasted negatively to the Pharisees, who made big shows of their moral superiority in public. Also cited is the woman by the well, and certainly any number of other accounts that reflect the fact that Jesus was of the people, not the wealthy, aristocratic or religious elites.
    American religious belief among Protestants has suffered at the hands of profit oriented practitioners who have to obscure the teachings of their religious icon to avoid cognitive dissonance-the fundamental contradiction of the Christian Businessman.  Catholic and Orthodox faiths have suffered from their connection to corrupt hierarchies of earthly power and the abuses that have arisen from the earthly power of these religious bureaucracies. 
    To the point here is a broader commentary that discounts the moral character of Romney, who has been reported to be planning a number of paths to achieve through skullduggery what voters might deny him.  Unspoken are concerns about the Mormon Church and its influence in America, which are often hinted at by the left leaning and in the process of being scrubbed from the right (e.g. Billy Graham’s “Mormonism is a cult” web site).

  6. Dano2 says:

     Thank you Cliff. Fair enough. I hope your reporting turns out to not be needed!



  7. indep_in_la says:

    I’d love to see the EC done away with. The most powerful country in the world and in the over 200 years after its inception, this country still doesn’t directly elect its president.

    But Romney and his cronies can raise the biggest hissy fit they want. If they are supposed to be supporters of the Constitution, then they can go pound sand. Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but lost the electoral vote. Shouldn’t Gore then have been president?

    Really, how much worse could the right wingers make it for Obama in a 2nd term? They been endangering the country for the last 2 years with their racist obstruction. If they go too far, even the peons that support them will eventually turn on them. So they’d better chose their course of action wisely or it could be their heads on the end of spikes – figuratively speaking of course.

  8. BeccaM says:

    Not as long as half the electorate doesn’t believe their problems are due to the plutocratic parasite 0.01% class, but the brown people who live next door and who pray funny. The key to a viable fascist authoritarian state is propaganda saturation and xenophobic scapegoating.

  9. Brian Maple says:

    The biggest worry this election, I believe, is voter fraud, and, tampering of machines. Particularly since we have learned that Tagg Romney has bought a large number of Ohio machines. If this is the way the Romney Campaign plans to swing this election they are not only going to be defeated but they will completely destroy the GOP in the process. There is no way that the Republican Party will have any credibility left once this is all brought to light. And with this being the most highly anticipated election in recent history, with cameras, media, lawyers, researchers, technology/polling experts, on-site, literally, everywhere, there is simply no way that they will not be caught. If true, the Romney Campaign and the Republican Party has made yet another huge mistake, reckless and politically fatal.

  10. karmanot says:

     For Christ’s sake—-give it a rest!

  11. BeccaM says:

    Honestly? The idea of calling into question the legitimacy of the Electoral College system is the one positive feature of this otherwise rotten anti-democratic GOP strategy.

    But anyway, did the 2000 election result in anything approaching a viable push to reform the EC? Nope. We had the ‘nightmare scenario’ right there — tainted, unreliable ballot counting results, a suppressed vote due to pre-election purges, and a presidency decided not by the people, but by five Supreme Court Justices. A result contrary to the popular vote and, by most post-election analyses, the will of the Florida voters.

    Did it in any way ‘cut the nuts’ off a Bush presidency? Hell no. Four years later when he was re-installed through fraudulent Ohio returns, he acted as if he didn’t just win by the narrowest of stolen margins but had been given a mandate and a huge pile of political capital to spend. Again, no serious push to reform or eliminate the EC. (That popular vote state compact thing doesn’t count because it’s stalled and ain’t going anywhere.)

    Let me put this another way, since we’re equating rather sexist emasculation imagery with a lack of political will and effectiveness. The Democrats and Obama have been cutting their own nuts off since 2008. (It could easily be argued this has been the case since the mid 90s’ or earlier.) They don’t need any help, just a few Blue Dog conservatives and a neo-liberal President so concerned with attempted bi-partisan rule, they don’t realize they’ve adopted positions well to the right of conservative Republicans just 10 or 20 years ago. Or maybe they do realize it and deep down believe that’s where this country needs to go.

    Indicative of this is how it is Obama and the Dems always seem to find their spines (a better term, IMHO) when it comes to enacting conservative programs and policies. Need an example? Easy: Obamacare is virtually identical to Romneycare, just bigger. More? Defense spending continues to rise. Both parties are pushing austerity to close the debt, it’s just a question of how much. Grand Bargain cuts to Social Security and Medicare. GOP and Dems agreeing on the debt ceiling sequester bill. Neither party sees anything wrong with banks stealing people’s houses through illegal foreclosures. And of course, the dramatic expansion of unitary executive powers.

    As for the possibility of rebellion or civil strife in some form? I used to be a bit of a Civil War buff and read everything I could get my hands on about it.Right now, the political climate this country is feeling a lot like the 1850s.

  12. MyrddinWilt says:

    Will Rupert Murdoch back Romney in this situation?

    If the GOP starts to attempt this the logical move would be to occupy Times Square and shut down Fox News as the HQ of the attempted coup.

  13. BeccaM says:

    It would really help if you broke that all up into coherent, brief sentences, with appropriate punctuation, capitalization, and grammar.

    Oh, and it would help if you had a single declarative point you were trying to make.

  14. basenjilover says:

    I just don’t get it.  Are we a bunch of wussies or just indifferent to Republican criminal activities (apathy) ?  Why aren’t there uproars with vote stealing, far right churches meddling in politics, bald faced lies on Fox News, etc etc?  It’s so discouraging when we do nothing.

  15. Jsoleil says:

     The Republican OH Sec of State has issued a last minute directive throwing out any provisional ballots with mistakes/errors even if the voter intent is clear.

    And in Cincinnati, election officials are forcing registered voters with proper ID to vote on provisional ballots.  And refusing to give voters who show up at the wrong place the right polling place info and instead telling them to vote on provisional ballots.  Bet your bottom dollar this is happening all over Ohio in districts with high minority populations.

  16. I’m the author of the article. A couple of things I should note: I rely heavily on anonymous sources, it is what has allowed me to scoop many regional MSM outlets. However, my blog, and it’s precursor, Left of the Hudson, have had an uncanny record of calling it early and right.

    About this article: My source, “the donor” is a person I have used as a source to for a previous story which was later picked up by the local MSM; I know him to be reliable and trustworthy. He does not wish that his name be used because he’s concerned that it can harm his career. As far as the fundraiser is concerned, I am familiar with her (at it’s easy to figure out who she is with a skilled Google search) and know that this is something that she is entirely capable of saying. I was advised that she’s quite the litigious type, so I’d rather not risk naming her without being able to name my source to back my story.

    Typically, I wait for secondary sourcing and don’t print third-party information without it, but I was without power from Hurricane Sandy for five days and had to make the call on whether to run with a timely story or to let it sit until it’s too late. My choice was to get the info out there and take whatever criticism comes my way. 

    I think the biggest takeaway from the story wasn’t so much the short conversation the donor and fundraiser had, but how the vulgar pettiness the Republican Party has been capable of in the past, may be the story of the next several weeks. 

  17. Indigo says:

    A popular uprising? That smells like Franco.

  18. FLL says:

    From the NY Daily News article, quoted above:

    “The core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course. In league with the campaign – which is preparing talking points about the Electoral College’s essential unfairness – a massive talk-radio operation would be encouraged.”

    From Winston Churchill’s speech at Harrow School:

    “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force.”

    My own thought is that, if necessary, people who are dedicated to preserving American democracy need to take the Second Amendment as seriously as do people who are dedicated to destroying American democracy.

  19. Christian Dem says:

    for all of you conservative christians that say your about my values, well I think it should be about Gods values and we should not judge any one dem. rep. or ind. cause He is the judge and because no one shout it from the pole pit do not mean that they do not believe in God cause you believe do not make you better thin anyone when Jesus was around not so good people like the tax collector and the woman at the well and many more, I do not think that God said that conservative come to me He said for all that for all that believe that he is the Son of God more matter if you a dem. rep. or ind. and I am a dem and a christian believe read and been baptized  it sadden me to see that for though that think that you have to be a rep. to believe shame, if you have to lie steal and not be true to who you are should raise red flags no matter what you are. 

  20. dula says:

    If only Democrats took Republicans seriously and treated this sort of thing for the civil war that it is.
    Republicans have clearly stated that they wish to destroy what remains of our government. Crickets.

  21. caphillprof says:

     I think this country is great at myth and virtual realities.  We will not be a great country until after white men have their comeuppance.

  22. olandp says:

    Why wouldn’t they?  They tried to delegitimize his first term, just like they tried to do with Bill Clinton.  Evidently the only acceptable President is a Republican.

  23. kingstonbears says:

    I guess if, by chance or by luck, Obama wins both popular vote and electoral college it will certainly kibosh the attempt this article lays out.

  24. Brady8sf says:

    I live in the SF Bay Area and have not seen a single presidential election ad in decades.  Suddenly over the weekend, I saw 20-30 anti-Obama ads on TV, all from Crossroads.  Maybe they just had more money than they know what to do with, but if they are advertising against Obama in the Bay Area, something is up.

  25. gratuitous says:

    The party may not like Romney (and I think you’re right about that), but as their grasp slips off the levers of power, the Republicans are bound and determined to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible. I think the Norm Coleman example is instructive, and may well turn out to be (you’ll pardon the word) normative for the GOP.

    I also remember “reports” from our favorite fair and balanced reporters showing the vast stretches of the American landscape that voted Republican, and the comparatively teeny, tiny geographic areas (like New York City) that voted Democratic. Somehow this was supposed to translate into votes, no matter how many times someone with a functioning brain said, “Yeah, Wyoming is much larger than Chicago, but land doesn’t vote.”

  26. FLL says:

    The problem here is the obvious comparison with 2000, when Bush won in the Electoral College (thanks to the judicial coup by the Supreme Court) but lost the popular vote. There was no violent popular uprising to contest Bush’s Electoral College victory, and he took office without incident. It would be even more difficult to defy the Constitution this year because it would involve wresting power from an incumbent administration, something Bush didn’t have to worry about in 2000 since Clinton was leaving office. The argument for a Republican challenge this year must rely on a violent popular uprising (encouraged by Fox News and hate radio, of course). Nothing else would do. I don’t think the idea of armed conflict will get much traction because it would amount to civil war.

  27. bacalove says:

    This is how they plan to do it!

  28. HKDaniel says:

    The plan is moot if the EC count turns out the way it is forecast to.
    These sort of shennanigans would only be feasible if the EC count were within reach, which it won’t be.

  29. HereinDC says:

    It’s not many…….. It’s not.

  30. Dano2 says:

    It is an interesting idea, too bad the article is so poorly sourced. Something to keep in mind, just in case.



  31. Dave R. says:

    Neither candidate will win the popular vote by much.  And yes, the polarization will go on no matter who wins.  It doesn’t look to me like we’ll finally come together as Americans first and Blue/Red second until all other avenues are closed.  Very sad for a great country.

  32. MyrddinWilt says:

    Romney’s big problem with that sort of plan is going to be that the party really does not like him. They hate Obama but they are not so attached to Romney himself.

    If they go that route we have to turn this into a litmus test for credible GOP politicians. W. lost the popular vote and sued to stop the count of the EC vote. If the rules are that the GOP get to choose the rules after the fact then it is going to be very ugly.

  33. Lisa M says:

    Many voters in the Northeast will be unable to vote due to Hurricane Sandy. This will definitely cut the popular vote for Obama in blue state strongholds – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut.

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