ChrisWeigant.com

Governor O'Malley Is Right

[ Posted Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 – 17:50 PST ]

The Huffington Post ran an article today titled "Gov. Martin O'Malley Urges Dems To Focus More On Romney's Governing Record, Less On Bain." In it, the governor of Maryland makes the following case:

"I think a point that needs to be emphasized was that in easier times when he [Romney] was governor of a pretty innovative state, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 [in job creation]," he said. "You contrast that to the tougher times we have now, under Governor Deval Patrick's leadership, Massachusetts is 5th in the nation."

O'Malley makes a good point. President Obama's re-election team should heed it.

Democrats have been amused at the attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, mostly because they've all come from his fellow Republicans. I guess Ronald Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment" (which is usually stated "speak no ill of a fellow Republican") is officially dead and buried, eh? But while Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul (and others) have been launching these broadsides against the good ship Mitt, they miss a much larger point: the real issue to put before the voters is what Mitt Romney did after he left the private sector for politics.

This is where the attacks on Romney actually began, back in Iowa. Two Republican candidates were out front in attempting to contrast their records with Romney's -- Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry. Both made the claim (in one form or another) that they would be a much better choice for the voters because of their job-creation track record when they were governors of (respectively) Utah and Texas. "We were number one in job creation, while Massachusetts under Mitt Romney was 47th out of 50" was the meat of their argument.

These points have all been eclipsed by two factors. The first is how poorly Perry and Huntsman have done on the campaign trail, and the second is the relentless attacks on what Perry now occasionally calls "vulture capitalism" -- what Romney actually did at Bain, in other words.

While this might make sense in the Republican primary fight (who knows what makes sense in this intra-party battle, at this point), Democrats should turn to Romney's actual record as Massachusetts governor.

There are two major reasons for doing so. In the first place, this is the core argument Romney is making for his candidacy -- that he somehow "understands the economy" better than everyone else (and certainly better than Barack Obama) because he is an experienced businessman, which is supposed to translate into being a successful politician when it comes to steering the American economy as a whole. That's Mitt's whole campaign rationale in a nutshell. But, unlike some candidates' reasons for running, Mitt actually has a record in this regard. He left the private sector to become the executive of a large state. If Democrats can show that he wasn't a sparkling success at actually running that state, it knocks down the foundation Mitt is attempting to run on. Without the rationale of "a businessman understands how to get the economy going," Mitt has very little left to explain why he'd be a better president than Obama. Massachusetts, as far as I know, had no foreign policy crises during Mitt's leadership, for instance.

The second big reason Mitt's governorship could be a fatal weak spot for him is that Republican voters already are wary of Mitt on this regard. Many Republicans are leery of Mitt precisely because of what he did while governor. Mention "Romneycare" to your average rank-and-file Republican, if you don't believe me. Plus, there's a whole gold mine of quotes from Romney when he was running against Ted Kennedy for Senate which have barely been mentioned in the media so far. Republicans -- especially the Tea Party wing -- are going to be seriously conflicted about voting for Mitt come next November. They really want to beat Obama, but they also really don't trust Mitt much at all on any of their core issues. Mitt just exudes "I'll say anything to get elected," which doesn't exactly build voter confidence in the GOP base. A lot of Republicans will be voting next year while holding their noses, and anything Democrats can do to convince a few of them to stay home and not vote at all is a smart political tactic, at this point (Obama voters are going to have their own "enthusiasm gap" on their side of the aisle, so it would level the field a bit to have an equal excitement gap on the other side).

Mitt Romney, should he win his party's nomination, will be vulnerable in one very big respect -- he was a financial wizard, in a climate that is not exactly friendly to the argument: "I made lots of money on Wall Street, let me run the country!" The populist anger out there isn't going to see Mitt's experience as necessarily what the country is looking for, at the moment. Plus, there's one further parallel to be made in this regard -- we had eight years of what was then called an "M.B.A. Presidency," when a candidate made a similar argument that "what was needed was a businessman in the White House." And how did George W. Bush work out for everyone?

Romney, of course, isn't George W. Bush. Obama can't make his entire campaign about looking backwards, either. But even without the Bush reference, they should listen closely to what Governor O'Malley is saying. If Mitt thinks being a businessman is the key to being a good politician, then let's examine his record in this regard a lot more closely. Toss off a reference to Bain every now and again, and let the Republicans bicker over that kettle of fish. But focus much more closely on what Mitt actually did as governor, because that is likely going to be a much more convincing argument to make to the voters.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

9 Comments on “Governor O'Malley Is Right”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    that he somehow "understands the economy" better than everyone else (and certainly better than Barack Obama)

    That's not such a big claim.

    Hell, *I* understand the economy better than President Obama... And ya'all know what a dullard I am when it comes to economic issues..

    There is also a very good THIRD reason why Democrats should ignore the Bain connection..

    Many MANY people with more Bain connections than Romney are officials within the Obama administration.. Obama's soon to be Chief Of Staff has a solid Bain connection, as does Obama's recent appointment to the OMB..

    Obama will look like a hypocrite (more so than he already does) for castigating Romney's connection with Bain, while having hundreds of officials within his own administration that are Bain people...

    You can't throw a rock within the US Government w/o hitting a dozen Bain people...

    Michale

  2. [2] 
    earthgirl wrote:

    Michale: Right off, please source your accusations of "having hundreds of officials...that are Bain people," and,"You can't throw a rock within the US Government w/o hitting a dozen Bain people." Say a lie often and loud enough people will believe it.

    And as you say, "...ya'all know what a dullard I am," there's total agreement on that. To business on the economy, our POTUS knew enough to push through the Stimulus package, saving over a million jobs, knew enough that even $1,000 in a worker's paycheck makes a difference. Knew enough that adding additional tax cuts is not the way to go. That pushing infrastructure in his Jobs Bill is shovel ready, held up by the repub/tparty who add their poison pills. Have you all forgotten the Bush/Cheney criminal regime, hiding the costs of an invasion (read about that catastrophic debacle) and the forgotten Afghan war. How about the Drug Plan that was never budgeted, the tax cuts that we and you are paying, or at least WE are. Dullard? Maybe, I'd prefer a mite ignorant of fact. Thanks for posting, it's good to know how little some people know, or care to know.

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    earthgirl -

    First off, welcome to the site!

    Your first comment was held for moderation, but from now on you should be able to post comments and see the immediately -- as long as you don't post more than one link per comment. Comments with multiple links are held for moderation to cut down on comment spam.

    Secondly, Michale loves to argue. But he's hard to convince. Just wanted to warn you in advance.

    :-)

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    EG,

    As I am wont to say...

    "Welcome to the party, pal!!!"
    -John McClane, DIE HARD

    Let's get to it, shall we?? :D

    Michale: Right off, please source your accusations of "having hundreds of officials...that are Bain people," and,"You can't throw a rock within the US Government w/o hitting a dozen Bain people." Say a lie often and loud enough people will believe it.

    I cited two, but for the sake of my argument, he numbers really don't matter.

    By crowing early and often about the Bain people, Obama has completely negated any Bain criticism of Romney.

    If he tries it, he will just look like more of a hypocrite than he already does... or is... :D

    And as you say, "...ya'all know what a dullard I am," there's total agreement on that.

    Common ground!

    "Yea!! Ain't it kewl!!"
    -John Travolta, BROKEN ARROW

    To business on the economy, our POTUS knew enough to push through the Stimulus package, saving over a million jobs, knew enough that even $1,000 in a worker's paycheck makes a difference. Knew enough that adding additional tax cuts is not the way to go.

    Yea, and how we doing so far?? :D Pretty damn crappy..

    All Obama did was put a few bandaids on a patient dying from cancer..

    The system was (and still is) broken... If Bush and Obama hadn't put on these bandaids, the system would have collapsed, a better system would have been put into place and we would be on a REAL recovery road instead of this limp-dicked recover that Obama/Biden love to crow about..

    "Were Americans better off 4 years ago?? Of course they were."
    -President Barack Obama

    That pushing infrastructure in his Jobs Bill is shovel ready, held up by the repub/tparty who add their poison pills.

    Shovel Ready??? Did you really say "shovel ready"???

    "Shovel-ready was not as ... uh .. shovel-ready as we expected."
    -President Barack Obama

    Even Obama admits that shovel ready wasn't really shovel ready...

    So, let's debunk that "shovel ready" myth right now...

    Have you all forgotten the Bush/Cheney criminal regime,

    Really?? "Criminal regime"?? What exactly made it a criminal regime?? Torture??? Gitmo?? Illegal surveillance???

    All the things that Obama not only continued but EXPANDED on???

    So, if that makes Bush/Cheney a "criminal regime" than obviously you would agree that Obama's is a "criminal regime", right??

    "So, obviously, it takes you five minutes to cook breakfast. You knew that. Instant grits???"
    -Joe Pesci, MY COUSIN VINNY

    Maybe, I'd prefer a mite ignorant of fact.

    Well, now you have a buttload of facts... :D

    I breathlessly await your response... :D

    CW,

    Secondly, Michale loves to argue.

    Hay now!! I resemble that remark!!! :D

    But he's hard to convince. Just wanted to warn you in advance.

    Naw, I am easy to convince... As long as one resorts to logic and facts and less of hysteria... :D

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michale: Right off, please source your accusations of "having hundreds of officials...that are Bain people," and,"You can't throw a rock within the US Government w/o hitting a dozen Bain people." Say a lie often and loud enough people will believe it.

    I am also constrained to point out that the Bain group advised the Obama administration during the Auto Bailouts...

    Bain is linked with the Obama Administration MUCH more and a lot more recently than Bain is linked with Romney.

    The Bain argument is a no-winner for Democrats...

    What good is mud-slinging if the mud covers Dems more than Romney???

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    dsws wrote:

    Many MANY people with more Bain connections than Romney ...

    So what you're saying is that Romney wasn't all that much of a top dog at Bain? That instead of proving he knows how to run an economy, this supposedly big chunk of his resume is really kind of a nothing-much? That it's not like he was one of the founders or something?

    Might want to check your facts.

  7. [7] 
    dsws wrote:

    I mean, I don't exactly like the guy, obviously. But he was one of the big dogs at Bain. And successfully so as far as I know. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

    There aren't any people with more Bain connection than Romney, let alone "many".

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    There aren't any people with more Bain connection than Romney, let alone "many".

    Romney got out of Bain more than a decade ago...

    That's ancient history...

    Obama's Bain connections are within the last 3 years....

    I stand by my statements...

    Michale

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's also possible to say that, if Romney is responsible for all the job losses caused by Bain then Obama is responsible for all the job losses caused by Solyndra and all the other companies that crashed and burned that received funds from Porkulus...

    "What's good for the goose is NOBODYs business but the ganders!!"
    -Mr Furley, THREES COMPANY

    Michale

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