Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at Gregory Industries in Canton, Ohio, Monday, March 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Since Jon Huntsman exited the Republican presidential race, Mitt Romney has been collecting the lion’s share of newspaper endorsements as the never-ending Republican presidential race has skipped from state to state. Though there are certainly exceptions, newspaper editorial boards generally maintain a refined taste for free-trade fantasies, privatization, running government “like a business” and the myth of “executive experience.”
So Romney pretty much fits the bill.
But it is not a perfect fit, as major papers across the country have made clear. The endorsements of Romney invariably come with a caveat indicating that, like Republicans in general, the newspaper editorial boards are not really that into Mitt.
What’s a candidate to do when all his endorsement recite his many failings?
For Mitt, that’s no problem.
As the critical Michigan primary approached, one of the state’s largest newspapers, the conservative Detroit News endorsed Romney. But the paper noted: “We disagree with Romney on a point vital to Michigan—his opposition to the bailout of the domestic automobile industry. Romney advocated for a more traditional bankruptcy process, while we believe the bridge loans provided by the federal government in the fall of 2008 were absolutely essential to the survival of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. The issue isn’t a differentiator in the GOP primary, since the entire field opposed the rescue effort.”
When the Romney campaign sent out an an e-mail blast and related communications about the endorsement, they dropped that section.
They did the same thing with a Grand Rapids Press endorsement, editing out the section that began: “Romney’s record does have flaws, however. His stance against government interaction to revive the domestic automobile industry is disappointing. Also disappointing are inconsistencies in his message…”
Editors in Michigan complained—with Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley pointedly saying it’s “inappropriate to edit out the mild criticism.”
“This was such a long cut and paste that I think it did create some confusion as to whether this was the whole editorial or not,” Finley told CNN.
The Romney campaign came back with all sorts of excuses: concerns about copyright laws, claims of “fair use,” space concerns, you name it. But they did not say they would stop peddling false impressions of their candidate And they have not.
When the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Romney in Super Tuesday’s critical Ohio primary, the Romney camp made a big deal about the backing it had received from the largest newspaper in a battleground state, about which the Plain Dealer notes: “Beginning with Abraham Lincoln, no GOP candidate has ever been elected president without Ohio’s electoral votes. In any Republican strategy to unseat President Barack Obama this November, Ohio is a must-win state.”
The Romney camp rushed to circulate the endorsement.
But in their e-mail blasts to media in Ohio and nationally, Mitt’s aides edited out the part that read: “Consistency is certainly a problem for Romney. The one-time moderate has adjusted his positions on so many issues—including abortion and gay rights — that his core beliefs are a mystery.”
That’s one mystery created by Romney and his campaign.
Here’s another: Can a candidate whose engenders so many doubts cut-and-paste himself to credibility—and the Republican presidential nomination?