Sunday, October 05, 2014

Really Desperate

Speculation abounds that Mitt Romney will make a third attempt at becoming President of the United States.  Jon Perr cites

a comically weak GOP field, with Romney at one point or another trailing the likes of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. Eventually, Mitt won a grueling war of attrition against Rick Santorum, a niche candidate who lost his previous Senate re-election campaign by a whopping 18 points. And yet, despite a brutally slow economic recovery and high unemployment that would have doomed most incumbent presidents, Barack Obama comfortably dispensed with the tax-dodging, 47 percent mocking, gymnastically flip-flopping, pathologically lying, champion of self-deporting, Muslim-conflating chameleon and vulture capitalist.

That should be "the tax-dodging, 47 percent mocking, gymnastically flip-flopping, pathologically lying, champion of self-deporting, Muslim-conflating chameleon, vulture capitalist, and vote fraudster."   In June, 2012 Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones (from whence the video below comes) explained that the previous week an obscure GOP presidential contender named Fred Karger filed with Massachusetts election officials a complaint giving

a chronology of Romney's real estate moves since his failed presidential bid in 2008. According to Karger's timetable, Romney and his wife, Ann, bought a $12.5 million home in La Jolla, California, in May 2008. ("I wanted to be where I could hear the waves," Romney told the AP of his move to the West Coast.) Thereafter, Romney became a regular at California political events, even campaigning for Meg Whitman during her gubernatorial bid. A year later, in April 2009, the Romneys sold their home in Belmont, Massachusetts, for $3.5 million, and registered to vote from an address in the basement of an 8,000 square-foot Belmont manse owned by their son Tagg. But where the Romneys really lived these past couple of years seems to be a bit of a mystery. While Romney was appearing at so many California political events people were speculating he was going to run for office there, the National Journal reported in May 2009 that the Romneys had made their primary residence a $10 million estate in New Hampshire.

The discrepancies in the news coverage prompted Karger to take a closer look, in part because he found it dubious that a guy worth $500 million would really be living in his son's basement. Investigating this mystery was right up Karger's alley. He spent 30 years working for one of California’s preeminent GOP consulting firms, doing opposition research for candidates, as well as the tobacco industry, so he has plenty of experience digging up dirt on political adversaries.

Fraudulent voter registration in Massachusetts carries a penalty of $10,000 and up to five years in jail. And the law in Massachusetts is pretty clear about the residency requirements needed to vote in the state. The state defines residence as "where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life."

Using that definition, Karger spent some time interviewing Belmont residents, including members of the Romneys' local Mormon Temple, where they’d been regulars, and asked people when they’d last seen the the former Massachusetts governor or his wife around town. The local fishmonger told Karger, "They flew the coop. They moved to California. I haven’t seen Mrs. Romney in over two years, and she used to come in here all the time." Likewise, churchgoers used to worshiping with the Romneys told Karger that they also hadn't seen the Romneys in a couple years. Yet the Romneys continued to vote in Massachusetts, including in the January 2010 special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. Karger says he even received personal confirmation from Ann Romney about the couple's living arrangments. In April, Karger says he ran into her in Las Vegas at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, where Mitt was speaking. According to Karger, Ann told him they are living in California.

In July 2010, the Romneys bought an $895,000 attached townhouse in Belmont, on the grounds of the McLean Mental Hospital, a move that finally gave Mitt a permanent Massachusetts address. Karger has asked the state to open an investigation into the Romneys' residency, as well as into whether they’ve been paying Massachusetts income taxes. The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

I don't know whatever became of that complaint.  If it was dismissed, it's not surprising.  Romney had been a Utah resident for three years when he filed to run for governor of Massachusetts, an office for which he would have been eligible only after seven years of continuous residence in the Commonwealth.  Mencimer notes "After a lot of legal wrangling and paying back taxes, he was finally allowed on the ballot."

Money talks, bull_ _ _ _ walks, as we all know, and Romney understands especially.  The future GOP presidential nominee bought himself out of a lot of trouble to run for governor, and five years later he would make his justifiably infamous 47 per cent comment. Now, two years later, and in his fifth attempt at explaining the remark, the former Massachusetts governor in an interview with The New York Times' Mark Leibovich blames it on the guy who asked him the question.

He was asked also about another run for the presidency and replied "we'll see what happens." He's leaving the door open (though he probably won't walk through it) because a recent poll showed him the favorite of Repub voters in Iowa. Meanwhile, The Washington Post's Hunter Schwarz reports "two NBC News/Wall Street Journal surveys taken in 2012 and 2014 show that Romney actually is less popular in 2014 than he was in 2012."

That is no disconnect.  It wasn't so long ago that the national media told us consistently that the GOP had a much deeper (presidential) bench than the Democratic Party.  Yet, the guy who lost the election two years ago and is less popular now is being urged by many Republicans, particularly of the 1%, to give it a go again. That's not only because he's one of them or because they adore voter fraud.  They simply have nobody credible.

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