With each day the most troubling aspect of Republican Presidential Mitt Romney’s campaign is how it seems to be a campaign that on so many levels is not being honest with voters. Now, in the case of Hurricane Sandy, we see that the planned political rally hurriedly transformed into a (supposedly) non-campaign rally storm relief rally yesterday was partly sheer photo op. Buzzfeed’s headline:

The Making Of Romney’s Storm Relief Event
A scramble to depoliticize a political campaign, and $5,000 in supplies from Wal-Mart.
“Just grab something.

And the details:

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.)

Oh.

And this is laudable:

When showtime arrived the following morning, local campaign staffers were pleasantly surprised by their supporters’ generosity.

“We were incredibly pleased with the outpouring of support we received from volunteers and generous contributors from southwest and central Ohio,” said Christopher Maloney, Romney’s Ohio spokesman, adding, “We’re pleased that Ohio could play a role, albeit a minor one, in the relief effort.”

Reports yesterday painted the portrait of a rally that was in fact political, from the buttons to the glossy video about Romney that was shown at the GOP convention. Buzzfeed’s report says this was due to the late minute change and confusion. Fair enough:

But then you have this:

But even as Romney, clad in blue jeans and rolled-up sleeves, hustled around his area of the gym, shaking hands, thanking supporters, and stacking cases of bottled water on top of each other, signs of stagecraft remained.

As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan t-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, “You need a donation to get in line!”

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.”

Donations to storm relief? Laudable. The way it was stage managed where people had to grab a “donation” from the front to get to the line to greet the candidate (and be in camera range)? The intent was good but it became one more campaign event that used the pretext of the storm to generate images of the candidate in a way that was not completely honest with voters.

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

McKay Coppins has a great report on the frantic last-minute efforts by Mitt Romney’s campaign to turn an Ohio campaign rally into a “relief rally.” At the last minute, Romney sent staffers to go clean out a local Wal-Mart to display enough goods for the cameras. (Coppins doesn’t mention that donating goods rather than money is not only inefficient or even useless, but counterproductive, forcing relief organizations to divert resources to stow them.)

Of course, this is more than a bit unfair, since the handling of campaign stagecraft tells you nothing about a candidate’s merits. But the story does seem to be a perfect synecdoche for the Republican approach to social policy. The frantic obsession with appearing to help people counterposed against a total lack of concern with the substantive effect is exactly how the party has approached issues like health care, poverty, and education…

….Don’t we need some kind of plan for people who have preexisting conditions? Just grab something!

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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rudi
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rudi
3 years 10 months ago

BJK posted on this yesterday. The Red Cross only want cash for the relief. Maybe Mittens can open up his own wallet…
http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/10/30/typical-romney/

Does the American Red Cross accept donated goods?
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.

adelinesdad
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adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago
rudi, I didn’t see it in the Buzzfeed article. Was the food drive intended to go to the Red Cross? And he has made a personal, monetary donation and encouraged others to do so, for which the Red Cross has issued an appreciative, apolitical statement. I’m afraid I don’t see a whole lot to get upset about here. They converted a campaign event into a disaster relief event, and decided to give the disaster relief a head start by purchasing some goods ahead of time. Am I supposed to be upset that local Ohio residents got credit for all of… Read more »
rudi
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rudi
3 years 10 months ago
The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside. I wonder if they kissed Mittens ring when they handed him the Grey Poupon and caviar? But the last-minute… Read more »
adelinesdad
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adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago

Sorry, rudi, my disgust meter must be busted. People can read into those sentences their own biases. (Were they worried that it would look bad, or they wouldn’t have much to give? Does it matter?)

To clarify, I didn’t mean to say that Joe’s article specifically was politicizing the disaster, rather those trumping up the politicization charge against Romney are themselves politicizing it.

adelinesdad
Guest
adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago
To answer my own question, the supplies are going to the Red Cross. In judging whether or not we should be disgusted that Romney held a drive where he collected supplies (in addition to soliciting monetary donations), I think it’s appropriate to let the organization that will be receiving those donations, being the victims of the supposed offense, have a say in the matter. Unless, as I’ve already heard argued in substance, you think the Red Cross is covering for the Romney campaign. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/30/romney-on-storm-aftermath-people-are-hurting-this-morning/ “The American Red Cross appreciates the support from the Romney campaign and is working with the… Read more »
rudi
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rudi
3 years 10 months ago

@AD
i would be cynical if the Romney campaign passed a bucket or set up a page on their websites for cash donations. But the canned can drive is just BS. The logistics of handling cans and used close is a nightmare for a quick response iad…
Google Andrea Mitchells take on this.

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
Member

Have to agree with you, Rudi.

Just as staged and “photo-opped” as Ryan’s stunt of re-washing clean pots and pans at that homeless kitchen a few weeks ago

adelinesdad
Guest
adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago
rudi, While this particular issue I think has blown over now so I’m tempted to let it rest, but I think it’s illustrative of how our biases can influence how we perceive things without realizing it. I don’t pretend to be immune, but I think it’s a useful exercise to try to examine our reactions to see if they are logical or not. Let me try to do that and see if we can reach some common ground. Let’s start here: Why do people do food drives at all? I think it’s probably always cheaper for a large charitable organization… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
3 years 10 months ago
Not surprisingly, I agree with Adelinesdad. On that last point, it’s even worse than head’s I win,tail’s you lose IMO. Let’s look at all of Romney’s options in the face of this devastating storm topping the news cycle: Go on with campaigning as usual, with maybe a mention of prayers for those affected. Response: look how callous! Campaigning while people are losing their homes and lives! Or, suspend campaigning with an announcement that it would be unseemly at this time. We need to focus on relief efforts, etc… Response: he’s pulling a McCain! Or, a blend of campaigning and motivating… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
3 years 10 months ago

Close tag ?

cs, if you’re going to use html, you have to put the code before and after the part you wish to highlight. You only put one in. I fixed it for you.

thanks

archangel/ dr.e

rudi
Guest
rudi
3 years 10 months ago
Food drives are fine for independent homeless shelters and food banks. When times are tough, many can spare a few cans that fall to the back of the pantry. But this has nothing to do with the large scale relief for the victims of Sandy. A box of cans collected from a Cincinnati Cub Scouts won’t find it’s way to the East Coast, BUT BE MORE MEANINGful than Mittens BS. Mittens photo op is just like Ryan’s washing of clean dishes at a food bank. Mittens could have used the room for a blood drive instead of his cynical ploy… Read more »
Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
Member

OR….he could just be himself

Oooops. Which “himself”?

adelinesdad
Guest
adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago
rudi, Googling “Hurricane Katrina food drive” yields some interesting results from around the country. Maybe they were all counterproductive too, but I don’t recall hearing them being criticized so harshly. (Wouldn’t it be scandalous if it turns out Obama participated in one!? I’m sure it would sink his campaign as MSNBC pounces.;)) “Links please.” From my link above: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/30/romney-on-storm-aftermath-people-are-hurting-this-morning/ “Romney’s campaign told reporters that a Red Cross warehouse in New Jersey was accepting the donation, and distributed a statement they attributed to the Red Cross.” I’ve quoted the statement above. Of course it’s always possible they are lying about that,… Read more »
SteveK
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SteveK
3 years 10 months ago

Romney’s “Photo Ops w/ audio” provide a wonderful way of documenting all of his lies.

And guess what…


.
…The “People” are paying attention.

HT: Today’s FiveThirtyEight

rudi
Guest
rudi
3 years 10 months ago
@AD We go round and round. Here’s what I think the Romney campaign should have done. 1)Send the can goods to a Ohio shelter. Admitting that no one knew that a simple can drive wouldn’t help the Red Cross Sandy effort. 2) Make a CASH donation(from a Romney supporter) of equal or greater value of the food collected in Ohio. This would show compassion in Ohio and along the East coast. The whole can drive just smells. On a less cynical note. Ann Romney does have a heart and visited children in Columbus hospitals. http://www.wlwt.com/news/politics/Ann-Romney-campaigns-for-husband-in-Tri-State/-/9837768/17205870/-/wriphbz/-/index.html A co-workers grandson is recovering… Read more »
CStanley
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CStanley
3 years 10 months ago

Well here’s a new twist:
http://politicker.com/2012/11/staten-island-borough-president-dont-give-money-to-the-red-cross/

I remember hearing similar complaints after Katrina.

SteveK
Guest
SteveK
3 years 10 months ago

I remember hearing similar complaints after Katrina

Well Christine, you really are a true partisan.

When I was a youngster I thought that was an admirable trait… As an ‘oldster’ let me just hope someone calls you a “Wambulance.”

For what it’s worth, your link was titled “Staten Island Borough President: Don’t Give Money to the Red Cross” WTHeck Chris… Are you trying to sell the idea that President Obama is running the Red Cross too?

adelinesdad
Guest
adelinesdad
3 years 10 months ago
rudi, 1) The Red Cross’ willingness to take the donation suggests otherwise. Of course it will take some time to transport and process the donation, but surely there will be people who will need help in the weeks and months to come as they struggle to get back on their feet. I’m not sure why we should assume those food donations will be of no use, even though we all agree that monetary donations are more useful. 2) It was reported that Romney encouraged people to text the Red Cross donation number during the drive, and it was displayed on… Read more »
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