Proving What's In His Heart: Nothing
November 1, 2012 - 1:40pm ET
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As I wrote yesterday, I have some sympathy for any presidential challenger in a situation like this. An epic natural disaster automatically makes them look irrelevant and small and there's not a lot they can do about it. But this is about as embarrassing a response as I can imagine:
As the East Coast and parts of Ohio struggled to regroup in the devastating wake of “Superstorm” Sandy, the Romney campaign hastily transformed a scheduled victory rally in Dayton, Ohio into a non-political “storm relief event” on Tuesday. According to BuzzFeed, the campaign encouraged supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies and “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.”
Just to be safe, campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. But according to BuzzFeed, this donation process was also staged:
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.”
Despite the fact that the Red Cross can't really use these supplies, according to the Romney campaign they have relented and will put them in a warehouse in New Jersey somewhere.
Who knows if very many voters will see this sad display on the new? But anyone who does have to think it's pathetic.
What could Romney have done? It's unclear. Going to the states where the storm hit would have interfered with the relief and clean-up efforts. And he's running out of time so he can't just sit it out. But you'd think that with all their money and all their alleged talent they could have come up with something better than this.
People always say that campaigns are a window into how a president will govern and I've always thought that was overblown hype. A campaign is not a country. But I do think this is one of those situations where the lack of empathy for fellow human beings shows. They have no reserve of good will built up in this area because they really don't give a damn and have spent the entire campaign talking about lazy, good-for-nothings who refuse to take care of themselves. When all hell breaks loose and people are suffering, nobody believes them when they pretend they care.
And when they put on a half baked show like the did yesterday, they prove it.
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future