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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Questions (Mine) and Answers (Romney's) Making the News Again

My question to Governor Romney made the headlines of the Boston Globe article covering the event! It was also the main focus of the AP article that ran about Romney's visit to Ames hosted by his Commonwealth PAC. This experience is similar to the comment/question I made to Romney a couple of months ago at the Iowa Christian Alliance House Party which ended up being discussed by David Yepsen in the Des Moines Register and in a seperate article in some no-name journal called the Wall Street Journal (See this blog entry and this one too)

I mentioned that Dick Morris had recently opined that Romney was taking a huge (and unwise) potilical risk in taking over the "Big Dig" (See article here with this comment: “I think he is digging himself into a hole as big as the Big Dig,” said Dick Morris, a former top adviser to President Clinton. “He is now going to be held responsible for every delay, every cost overrun and every construction defect. Some things are best kept at arms length.”) I asked Gov. Romney what he thought of Morris's opinion; the answer he gave was great!
AMES, Iowa -- Nearly three weeks after a ceiling collapse in a Big Dig tunnel killed a Boston woman, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney yesterday portrayed his stewardship of the crisis as a sign that he is ``willing to take action."

Romney, in his first significant out-of-state political trip since the July 10 accident, told 200 people at a Republican lunch yesterday that he had stepped in to oversee the beleaguered $14.6 billion project when others would not.

``The best thing for me to do politically is stay away from the Big Dig -- just get as far away from that tar baby as I possibly can," Romney said, answering an audience question about whether his new responsibility for the project's safety carried political risk. ``But I got elected as governor of Massachusetts. It's part of my job to do what I think is the right thing."

He cast himself as willing to tackle a seemingly intractable problem. ``One thing's for sure, I am sure tired of people who just have nothing but talk and are not willing to take action. I'm willing to take action, and that's what I'm going to do," he said to rousing applause.

Just, for the record, this question was not scripted, or "a plant." I just wanted to know his opinion on the issue and I suspected that he'd give a strong answer. He did not disappoint me!

Over the next couple of days I'll give my commentary on both events (In Ames and in Cedar Rapids) which I attended with friends and family. It was again a great experience to see and speak with Gov. Romney. He seems quite appreciative of the support we, as "Iowans for Romney" are giving to him.

Update 7/31 in the afternoon:
Apparently, "race baiters" are trying to paint Romney as a racist for using the term "tar baby".
A new Iowa Political Blog, RealWorldPolitico, by Kevin Schmidt (who was at the event too) has his take on the comment as well as his own audio file (mp3 link) to the 10 second comment to put it in context.

The comment section in this entry and the preceding one reveal these kind of people for what they are . . . In coordination with The Caucus Cooler, we caught someone from a server in Little Rock, Arkansas who posted under multiple names about how horrible it was for Romney to use the term.

This subject is also being discussed at blog entries of "The Caucus Cooler" and "The Krusty Konservative"


Anonymous said...

Please quit reprinting and reprinting and reprinting Governor Romney's use of the highly offensive term "tar baby" like its some kind of badge of honor.

You are hurting him.

Terry Anderson said...

Romney is either totally tone deaf about the feelings of black Americans or he just doesn't care.

Which is it? He should apologize.


jason said...

I really doubt Romney is tone deaf or he doesn't care. He did apologize. I think you guys (or guy?) should move on to another issue, you look pretty weak minded to be this offended so easily.

Jeff Fuller said...

First off, he has already apologized,2933,206348,00.html
(which I didn't think was necessary . . . he used a common colloquialism to appropriately describe the situation. No malice or racial slander was implied nor intended. I just think some people need to relax.)

And where am I "reprinting and reprinting" the term? Someone jumped on the entry below which said NOTHING about his use of the term and commented about how racist he was . . . Give me a break! That term appears once in one entry. I think the opposition is trumping up the charges and using the term much more than Romney and his supporters. Again, people need to relax.

I'm interested to know if the same person (people?) commenting here and on the entry below gave Senator Biden the same crap about his much more racist statement about Indians running gas stations. Please answer this. Truth is, only conservatives are held to this standard and Biden largely got a pass from the lefties and mainstream media. Or does he get a pass because it's OK to be racist as long as it's not against your race? I'm really confused here. Please answer.

jason said...

hey where was everyone when Worcester Magazine used this same term to describe the Big Dig. look here paragraph #2:

Are you really mad about the term or just looking for Ammo on Romney?

Kevin Schmidt said...

Jeff, I've got the audio, it's obvious it wasn't a racial slur...

Des_Moines_Girl said...

I was at the luncheon in Ames. I heard the comment in context. It was NOT meant as a racial slur.

Furthermore - I have never heard this term ever used as a racial slur. I have only ever heard it in reference to a sticky situation.

When I was a kid, I was called "mayonnaise face" by an African American. Should I become offended everytime someone at the deli asks me if I want mayo on my sandwich?

Context. Context. Context.

IMO - Part of why this story is getting so much play is because Tony Snow was recently taken to task for using the same phrase.

Nathan said...

The fact that the comment has gotten so much attention is absurd. I'm so sick and tired of constant charges of racism from the left aimed at conservatives. We'll need to get used to more of this crap as Mitt takes his place as the GOP frontrunner. They'll take cheap shots like this every chance they get.


FirstState said...

This is fantastic. This kind of behavior is how people who support other candidates treat those who support the frontrunner. Romney is getting the frontrunner treatment in IA.


Anonymous said...

Please see the Boston Herald's semi-apology to Romney for criticizing him, after it was pointed out to them that they had used the same phrase to describe the Big Dig 2 years ago, without any public backlash. These critics are just Democrats trying to find anything they can to smear Romney.

Mitt unduly tarred with Mel’s brush
By Virginia Buckingham
Boston Herald Columnist

Tuesday, August 1, 2006 - Updated: 09:08 AM EST

It’s a coincidence that Gov. Mitt Romney is taking heat for what some see as a racial slur in the same news cycle as Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant.

But it would be a real shame if there was no distinction made by the guardians against discrimination between Romney’s common reference and Gibson’s disgusting tirade.

All slurs are not created equal.

Romney quickly apologized for his use of the term “tar baby” to describe his involvement in the Big Dig political mess. If unintentional bigotry loves company, Romney has plenty of it including Sen. John Kerry, The Boston Globe editorial board, the Boston Herald editorial board, White House press secretary Tony Snow and WBUR’s “On Point” host Tom Ashbrook.

In a June 2003 Boston Globe profile, Kerry described his leadership of a congressional committee on missing soldiers in Southeast Asia as a potential “tar baby.”

In a 1994 editorial, the Globe described U.S. dealings with Iran as resembling a “tar baby” and even articulated the term’s assumed meaning in a 1998 editorial on China’s censoring of the Internet: “The Communist rulers of Beijing ended last year tangling with a tar baby. The tar baby - passive, sticky and invincible - was played by the Internet, which the leaders want to censor.”

The Herald weighed in on Romney’s Turnpike merger proposal in a 2004 editorial noting “What lawmaker wouldn’t want to pass this tar baby to the guy who may be running for re-election in 2006?”

More recently, in May, the White House’s Snow colorfully refused to comment on a government surveillance program saying that doing so would “hug the tar baby.”

And Ashbrook, as well as Romney apparently, missed the resulting brouhaha since the WBUR host also used the term in a June 16 broadcast to describe the Guantanamo prison issue.

I personally have used the term tar baby, at least in conversation, if not in writing (though I’ve done that, too) plenty of times in my 19-plus year career.

And I confess not only did I not know of its racial implications, I also didn’t know of its origination as a literary trap for Br’er Rabbit. The Boston Globe’s language expert, Jan Freeman, filled me in on that in a June column.

Ignorance isn’t an excuse, it is only an explanation. I assume most, if not all, of those who were offended by Romney will accept his explanation and apology and, more, understand his comment in the spirit in which he offered it.