Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mitt Romney’s New Gaffe, “Poor Mouthing”, or Cluelessness? – The Test of Likability and Trust

By M. Ulric Killion


Carlos Osorio/Associated PressMitt Romney speaking to members of the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field in Detroit; Michael Barbaro, Romney’s Cadillac Comment Highlights His Wealth, New York Times, February 24, 2012.

On the Republican (GOP) campaign trail, one of the forerunners, Mitt Romney, as reported by the New York Times, “explained that he owns two cars and his wife owns ‘a couple of Cadillacs.’”

Irrespective of whether one characterizes his words as a gaffe, blatant insensitivity, or simply, and quoting Joe Klein (Time Magazine), “poor mouthing,” he invokes a sense of cluelessness about the plight of those who are not rich or wealthy.

I am talking about the people or average Americans, who, when compared to rich or wealthy persons like Romney, are the less fortunate.

Wealth per se is not the problem, and wealth taken alone is not a drawback to a presidential candidacy, including even his candidacy.

The problem as usual is the likability factor and trust factor.

This is because the problem with Romney, and his ill-spoken gaffes and insensitivities, is that he keeps his cluelessness about the plight of real America or the average American in the news, and right in our face.

Moreover, the increasing frequency of gaffes and insensitivities only lets us know that he is genuinely clueless about how the non-rich or non-wealthy live.

As for the trust factor, the same holds true, because of Romney’s inability to connect with real America or average Americans.

Consequently, Americans generally know neither Romney—the individual, nor Romney—the politician.

His inability to connect with people prevents us from knowing and liking him.

As for Romney–the politician, the same is true, because he blows with the wind, as evidenced by a record in politics that shows him on both sides of the fence on many controversial issues.

For the same reason, if asked who or what Romney is, the answer would necessarily range from being a moderate, to a “severe” conservative, though admittedly he actually said “severely” conservative, as he recently characterizes himself.

Granted, the likability factor will be debated in neither the GOP race nor presidential race.

Nonetheless, the average American wants to like his or her president, and trust that the person elected to the highest office in the land knows, understands, and feels the pulse of real America.

In these respects, Romney failed both the likability test and trust test.

For all of these reasons, in terms of likability and trust, for real America or average Americans his campaign will soon fizzle out.

While Romney’s SuperPAC money, as Business Week reported, is keeping him in the GOP race, there are two things that his SuperPAC money will not be able to buy, which are likability and trust; rather, it will ultimately only engender the opposite effect—“growing” unlikability and distrust.


See also Michael Barbaro, Romney’s Cadillac Comment Highlights His Wealth, New York Times, February 24, 2012 --

DETROIT — Mitt Romney, whose improvisations on the campaign trail have repeatedly reminded voters of his extraordinary wealth, stumbled into the same perilous terrain here on Friday when, unprompted, he explained that he owns two cars and his wife owns “a couple of Cadillacs.”

Two Cadillac SRX’s, to be exact. The cost of a new model: $35,000 to $50,000.

(Ms. Romney owns 2007 and 2010 models: she keeps one at the Romneys’ home in Massachusetts, and the other at their house in California.)

The automotive disclosure came, inauspiciously; at the end of a major speech that Mr. Romney delivered about his plans to revive the stalled economy by cutting income taxes and reforming entitlement programs. . . .

See also Felicia Sonmez, Mitt Romney: Wife Ann drives ‘a couple of Cadillacs’, Washington Post, February 24, 2012 --

The “Cadillacs” line — which was not in the prepared text of Romney’s speech — would not be so troublesome if it weren’t for the fact that Romney has shown a tendency to make unforced errors on the campaign trail when making comments related to wealth.

Last month, Romney remarked that he “like(s) being able to fire people,” a comment that Democrats immediately seized on to paint the candidate as out-of-touch with the middle class. He has described his net worth as “between 150 and 200 some-odd million.” And he said in a CNN interview that he was not concerned about the “very poor,” a statem ent he later walked back.

Romney’s latest remark, while not a major flub, would seem to fit into that narrative: In an effort to emphasize that he drives all American-made vehicles, Romney instead drew attention to the fact that his family owns multiple cars in multiple states.

The timing of the comment is also unfortunate for Romney, coming at a point when the candidate is working to steer the GOP primary debate back to economic issues, his strong suit in the race.

See also The Republican Conundrum

Copyright protected: All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.

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