Giving few insights into his stunning loss to President Barack Obama Nov. 6, 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told “Fox News Sunday” he thought he’d win the election until he saw exit polls out of Florida. Calling it “slow recognition,” Mitt said he thought he’d win Florida decisively but realized exit polls showed otherwise with Obama eventually winning Florida with 49.9% of the popular vote. Viewed as a must-win state, Romney visited Florida 38 times, only to watch his fortunes vanish as absentee ballots were counted in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County. Romney insists he thought he’d win the election, despite highly accurate predictions by the nation’s most reliable forecasters, especially New York Times’ Nate Silver. For over six months, Silver had the race state-by-state as a likely Obama reelection victory.
Romney’s campaign read the same polls and forecasters as everyone else but chose to put on a happy face knowing the likely outcome. His interview on “Fox News Sunday” shows either Mitt’s disingenuous or clueless side, duped by GOP pollsters feeding him garbage polls what he wanted to hear. Even the GOP-leaning Scott Rasmussen had Obama winning the election 46% to 52%, suggesting Mitt lived in a bubble before and after the election. While not admitting it, Mitt's polls headed south Aug. 12, 2012, the day he announced Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate. Pulling the same mistake as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) four years before when he picked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Mitt pandered to his Party’s right wing and got burned. Ryan had to be muzzled early on after promising to reform Medicare and Social Security.
Staying out of media spotlight since the election, Mitt comes out of the shadows giving Fox News what it wants to hear: That he thought he’d win the election up until he saw the Florida results. When he saw Ohio go to Obama, he knew it was over. Yet all the forecasters, including Las Vegas’ Intrade, had Obama up consistently for months before the election. Reflecting on the loss, Mitt toned down his rhetoric when he blamed the loss on Obama offering the have-nots more government goodies. He told Fox News’ Chris Wallace he didn’t do a good enough job connecting with minorities, admitting the GOP needs to do a better job with African Americans and Hispanics. Mitt and his VP pick Ryan mirrored during the campaign the exact same message as the GOP’s position on the “fiscal cliff” and, more recently the “sequester.” Slash government spending—and federal jobs—to balance the budget.
Voters didn’t want to hear if you vote for Mitt and Paul you’re likely to lose your federal job. That’s precisely the same message they’ve heard recently from the GOP over the impending $85 billion in federal spending cuts about to hit the economy like the Titanic’s iceberg. With the economy still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke warned against federal spending cuts. Tossing federal workers or government contractors out of work makes no sense when adding jobs is the best way to assure long-term economic recovery. Romney and Ryan’s economic plan called for the same draconic spending cuts as now faced by the “sequester.” Instead of worrying about what “minorities’ want, the GOP should spend more time finding economic and social programs that benefits struggling U.S. taxpayers.
Romney told Wallace that he doesn’t spend his time “looking back.” While that’s not Mitt’s job now, it’s the GOP’s job to figure out what went wrong. If you listen to right wing media pundits, they’d tell you Mitt wasn’t conservative enough. Just how out of touch with reality most right wing pundits, just look at what happened when Mitt picked Ryan as his running mate. Lessons to the GOP aren’t rocket science. Had Mitt picked moderate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the presidential race might have been competitive. While the GOP focuses on Sen. Rick Rubio (R-Fl.) hoping to appeal to Latinos, they’re barking up the wrong tree. What’s needed for Republicans are not more token minorities but a Party platform that helps lower income voters move more quickly into the middle class. Tossing federal workers into unemployment only makes a bad situation worse.
If Mitt were really honest with Fox News, he’d reflect a little on his choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate. McCain called Sarah Palin the future of the Republican Party. Romney made similar claims about Paul Ryan. Both share an extremist right wing vision of American politics that don’t match changing demographics among future voters. Mitt didn’t have a hard time connecting with minority voters. His economic and social policies slapped that growing population in the face. Instead of listening to internal polls showing him running a competitive race, Romney should have paid more attention to Nate Silver clearly showing that he wasn’t running a competitive race. Mitt said he underestimated the appeal of Obamacare to low income voters. If he paid any attention to the polls, he would have known that he built his entire campaign on repealing something the voters wanted.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.