Commentary: A "Perfect Storm" Derails Mitt Romney's Campaign

Out of many bad weeks for Mitt Romney this year, this may have been the worst.

Posted: 11/02/2012 04:19 PM EDT
Commentary: A "Perfect Storm" Derails Mitt Romney's Campaign

Back when he was governor of Massachusetts in 2004, Mitt Romney tried to explain why the U.S. economy wasn't doing better under a Republican president. After all, President Bush had pushed through massive tax cuts, skewed to the wealthy, that were supposed to jumpstart the economy.

Instead, the national debt ballooned out of control, income growth never trickled down to the middle class or the poor and the Clinton surplus was squandered by two costly wars and two costlier tax cuts.

But Mitt Romney had an answer.

"The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush Administration were the result of a perfect storm," Romney said. Any candidate who would blame the recession and the slowdown in jobs on President Bush would be dismissed for spreading "poppycock," he said.

But that's exactly what Mitt Romney has been spreading for the past 10 months on the presidential campaign. But now another perfect storm has arrived to derail his presidential campaign.

Just this morning, the Labor Department released new job numbers showing the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent for October, a strong number that can only help President Obama's re-election next Tuesday. Four years ago this month, the U.S. economy lost 489,000 jobs. This year we gained 171,000 jobs. Yes, America, we are better off than we were four years ago, and that's a message that Romney can't handle.

The new numbers were released at the end of a brutal week for Romney's campaign that showed just why Obama should be re-elected and Mitt Romney can't be trusted.

First, the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy forced the Romney camp to pretend not to campaign for several days, depriving them of an opportunity to get in some more digs at the president during the final week before the election. The Romney team was busted for putting on a phony "storm relief" event where Romney aides allegedly bought canned food at Wal-Mart and then gave it to supporters to give back to the campaign.

In contrast, Obama stopped campaigning on Saturday before the storm and demonstrated his competence as commander-in-chief during a national disaster. The president won high marks for his leadership. Nearly 80 percent of Americans approved of his performance in leading the hurricane relief efforts. But the biggest surprise came from Romney's own GOP surrogates. Republican Gov. Chris Christie repeatedly praised President Obama and Virginia's Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell lauded the Obama administration's response as "incredibly fast."

The storm also forced Gallup to suspend its daily tracking poll, the only poll that had consistently shown Romney leading Obama among likely voters in the past few weeks. And in the interim, a barrage of positive new swing state poll numbers rolled in for Obama. By Friday morning, Obama led in six of the nine swing state polling averages on the right-leaning Real Clear Politics site, enough to win with 290 electoral votes.

A desperate Romney campaign claimed it would try to expand the electoral map by branching out to Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three states where Obama has never trailed in the polling averages and that haven't voted for a Republican in a quarter century.

Romney also unveiled and repeated a desperate and widely debunked attack on President Obama in must-win Ohio, claiming Obama would hurt the auto industry and Romney would save it. Never mind that Romney once famously vowed to "let Detroit go bankrupt." Apparently, he thinks Ohioans are too stupid or too forgetful to remember his own words.

Just in case, auto executives at Chrysler and General Motors reminded Romney he was wrong this week and directly accused him of spreading false rumors and misinformation.

The pushback by the auto executives undermined Romney's central campaign argument that his business experience would somehow help him create new jobs as president, something he failed to do in Massachusetts when his state ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation.

But more importantly, the critique from Detroit eviscerated Romney's argument that he would lead the country in a less partisan, less divisive way than President Obama has. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a former Republican, further destroyed that argument when he endorsed President Obama on Thursday.  Bloomberg has been very critical of partisanship and divisiveness from the White House, so by choosing Obama over Romney he implicitly suggests Romney would be even more divisive in his view.

Add in Obama's endorsements from former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, former Republican Senator Larry Pressler and former Bush Administration Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Romney's argument that Obama can't work with Republicans just doesn't hold water.

Out of many bad weeks for Mitt Romney this year, this may have been the worst. And it came at the worst possible time, a week before the presidential election. The perfect storm has struck.

 

Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author and former White House aide to President Clinton. He attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama and currently serves as a TV political commentator. He writes political commentary for BET.com each week.

 

The views here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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