Politics: Campaign 2012

Romney: Obama Has Failed America

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June 2, 2011, 9:54 a.m.

De­veloper Carl Paladino (R) “told a gath­er­ing” in Wil­li­ams­burg, Brook­lyn 10/10 that “chil­dren should not by ‘brain­washed’ in­to think­ing that ho­mo­sexu­al­ity was ac­cept­able, and cri­ti­cized” AG An­drew Cuomo (D) “for march­ing in a gay pride parade earli­er this year.”

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Paladino, “ad­dress­ing Or­tho­dox Jew­ish lead­ers”: “I just think my chil­dren and your chil­dren would be much bet­ter off and much more suc­cess­ful get­ting mar­ried and rais­ing a fam­ily, and I don’t want them brain­washed in­to think­ing that ho­mo­sexu­al­ity is an equally val­id and suc­cess­ful op­tion — it isn’t.”

More Paladino: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year — the gay pride parade this year. My op­pon­ent did, and that’s not the ex­ample we should be show­ing our chil­dren” (Har­ris, New York Times, 10/11).

In Paladino’s “pre­pared re­marks — which were handed out to re­port­ers by one of Paladino’s host rab­bis at the K’hal Adam Kasho syno­gague in Wil­li­ams­burg — but not said by Paladino was the line: ‘There is noth­ing to be proud of in be­ing a dys­func­tion­al ho­mo­sexu­al. That’s not how G-d cre­ated us.’”

Paladino mgr Mi­chael Cap­uto, when “asked why that line was striken while Paladino de­livered the rest of the pre­pared text ver­batim”: “Dif­fer­ent lead­ers of the Or­tho­dox com­munity ad­vised Carl on the first draft of the speech. The speech that Carl read was his own” (Ep­stein, “Spin Cycle”, News­day, 10/10).

Cuomo’s camp, in a state­ment: “Mr. Paladino’s state­ment dis­plays a stun­ning ho­mo­pho­bia and a glar­ing dis­reg­ard for ba­sic equal­ity,. These com­ments along with oth­er views he has es­poused make it clear that he is way out of the main­stream and is un­fit to rep­res­ent New York” (re­lease, 10/10).

Cap­uto “noted” that Paladino “em­ployed a gay man on his cam­paign staff.” Cap­uto: “Carl Paladino is simply ex­press­ing the views that he holds in his heart as a Cath­ol­ic. Carl Paladino is not ho­mo­phobic, and neither is the Cath­ol­ic Church. The ma­jor­ity of New York­ers agree with him.” He “said the cam­paign had done its own polling.”

Paladino: “Don’t mis­quote me as want­ing to hurt ho­mo­sexu­al people in any way. That would be a dast­ardly lie.”

Cap­uto “sug­ges­ted” that 8/20 “a Cuomo staff mem­ber had re­ferred to two gay male aides” to Paladino “as ‘girls.’ The aides were ac­com­pa­ny­ing a Paladino vo­lun­teer dressed in a duck cos­tume, and blow­ing duck calls, to call at­ten­tion to what the Paladino cam­paign said” was Cuomo’s “habit of duck­ing is­sues.”

Cap­uto said “the aides were ap­proached by the Cuomo staff mem­ber and told: ‘If you girls don’t get out of here I’m go­ing to shove those duck calls down your throats.’”

Cuomo’s camp “did not re­spond” 10/10 (New York Times, 10/11).

Go Ahead, Tell The World

Paladino made the full Gins­burg this a.m., ap­pear­ing on all three morn­ing net­work shows.

Paladino, on if he is call­ing the kettle black: “No I don’t think so. And I know what you’re re­fer­ring to and I did apo­lo­gize for that omis­sion in my life and reck­less­ness. I want to clearly define my­self. I have no re­ser­va­tions about gay people at all. None. Ex­cept for one thing, their de­sire to get mar­ried. I just feel, I’m a Cath­ol­ic, … I feel that mar­riage is only between a man and a wo­man. … I have people work­ing for me that are gay. Nev­er had a prob­lem with them.”

Paladino, on if people are gay by birth: “I think its a mat­ter of birth. I feel like they are born that way. And that’s just fine.”

Paladino, if he ad­ded fuel to the fire of hate: “It wasn’t my in­ten­tion.”

Paladino, on the New York Post: “I think they owe me an apo­logy at some point. They have chased me down for every darn thing” (“Early Show,” CBS, 10/11).

Paladino, on if he will al­low openly gay people to serve in his ad­min­is­tra­tion: “Ab­so­lutely. Wherever their ex­pert­ise might be, we’ll put them in our gov­ern­ment.”

Paladino: “The dis­crim­in­a­tion against ho­mo­sexu­als is hor­rible, it’s ter­rible.”

Paladino: “Young chil­dren should not be ex­posed to that at a young age, they don’t un­der­stand it. It’s a very dif­fi­cult thing and ex­pos­ing them to ho­mo­sexu­al­ity, es­pe­cially at a gay pride parade and I don’t know if you have ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each oth­er and it’s just a ter­rible thing.”

Paladino: “When I talk about is­sues such as this, I talk from my heart. And I ex­pect the press to prop­erly in­ter­pret my re­marks.”

Paladino, on the speech that was writ­ten for him: “I’m not quite sure where it came from. I don’t know the people who wrote that. But I crossed it out in the car. I did not say it and to re­peat it, is wrong.”

Paladino: “No, I don’t re­gret the re­mark, the re­marks that I made be­lieve in. The re­mark that was de­leted is nobody’s busi­ness, it was put in there by some­body and I’m not re­spons­ible for that, I’m only re­spons­ible for what I say.”

Paladino: “An­drew Cuomo took his daugh­ters to a gay pride parade, is that nor­mal? Would you do it? Would you take your chil­dren to a gay pride parade? … I don’t think you should go and watch grown men grind against each oth­er, I think it’s dis­gust­ing” (“Today,” NBC, 10/11).

Paladino, on if ho­mo­sexu­al­ity is a choice: “I’ve had dif­fi­culty with that. … And I be­lieve it’s a very, very dif­fi­cult life for a young per­son. I be­lieve that young people should not ne­ces­sar­ily be ex­posed to that. Without some really, really ma­ture back­ground, first, be­fore — so they can learn to deal with it. It’s a very dif­fi­cult thing. And I sens­it­ize with it totally.”

Paladino: “My prob­lem with that, the press does not hold Cuomo to the same stand­ards that they hold at me. Everything he says, they come and shoot at me from every pos­sible angle” (“GMA,” ABC, 10/11).

Paladino went on FNC’s “Fox & Friends,” 10/11.

Paladino, on why he made his com­ments about gay people: “An­drew Cuomo had come out with a state­ment say­ing that in his first year gay mar­riage would be passed and he would sign the bill. We wanted to clearly define our po­s­i­tion on gay mar­riage. I have un­equi­voc­ally had no re­ser­va­tions what­so­ever about ho­mo­sexu­al­ity. I know the dif­fi­culties that ho­mo­sexu­als suf­fer. I have a neph­ew and I have em­ploy­ees who work for me who are of that per­sua­sion and we have nev­er had a prob­lem and i say that very clearly, un­equi­voc­ally. None.”

Paladino, on his un­der­stand­ing of gay pride parades: “I made a fur­ther com­ment that was based upon an­drew’s state­ment that last year he took his chil­dren, young teen­agers, to a gay pride parade. Now, I stumbled on one in Toronto one time with my wife. We watched this. There were men in Speedos grind­ing and do­ing things, okay, to each oth­er, on this tract trail­er. I just said, that’s not right. What’s wrong with him, tak­ing young chil­dren? We wanted to make a clear state­ment. Schools have no busi­ness teach­ing chil­dren about mor­al ques­tions. That’s re­served to the par­ents.”

Paladino, on who is at fault for his pre­pared state­ments say­ing gays were ‘dys­func­tion­al’: “Well, I don’t know who wrote the thing. But some­body did. In the car be­fore I ar­rived, I scratched out that sec­tion. I said, this isn’t me. And I scratched it out and I did not re­peat it. I didn’t say it. I cer­tainly don’t feel that way. And then that’s what led this whole is­sue up. An­drew went and took a clean copy of that and went and sent it out to the press.”

Paladino, on if he thinks his op re­search is ac­tu­ally good for the cam­paign: “I don’t. I’m out there — I don’t think it would be ef­fect­ive right now. I think right now, okay, people want to hear about the mes­sage. An­drew keeps shov­ing this gut­ter stuff out there and I have to re­spond to it. But my mes­sage is very, very clear. It’s very simple and it deals with the en­tire spec­trum of our so­ci­ety in New York state. Cut the taxes, cut the spend­ing, jobs, and enough of the gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion and get our medi­caid straightened out” (FNC, 10/11).

Paladino also ap­peared on the “Imus In The Morn­ing” show this a.m.

Paladino, on gay mar­riage: “I do not sup­port gay mar­riage. … I’m a Cath­ol­ic and there are 7,500,000 Cath­ol­ics in New York. My feel­ings on ho­mo­sexu­al­ity are the same as the Cath­ol­ic church. I have no prob­lem with ho­mo­sexu­al­ity, none at all, but mar­riage is a sac­red thing.”

Paladino, on Cuomo tak­ing his daugh­ters to a gay pride parade: “I don’t think I would be proud to take my child to a gay pride parade where you have these men in Speedos and oth­er­wise na­ked, grind­ing against each oth­er up on the back of a truck. I think it’s dis­gust­ing. It’s like tak­ing your daugh­ter to a strip show.”

Paladino, on wheth­er his re­li­gion will in­flu­ence the way he gov­erns: “No, I will gov­ern, I will up­hold all the laws of the state of New York, no mat­ter what they are, even if they dis­agree with my per­son­al feel­ings, I will up­hold those laws. I may ad­voc­ate against them, but I cer­tainly will up­hold the laws.”

Paladino, on wheth­er he would sup­port a gay mar­riage act if it passed in the state le­gis­lature: “Oh, ab­so­lutely. Ab­so­lutely.”

Paladino, on the in­cid­ent at Rut­gers Univ.: “I see the dis­crim­in­a­tion, I have a neph­ew and oth­er people work­ing in my or­gan­iz­a­tion who are gay. I see the dif­fi­culties that they suf­fer every day. … Talk­ing about these is­sues is im­port­ant. I think that people want to know where you stand on these is­sues. I will pro­tect every­body in the state of New York. I will ad­vance the in­terests of every­body in the state of New York and I’ve as­sured every­one of that.”

Paladino, on Cuomo: “Now he wants to call me a ho­mo­phobic. An­drew’s got to get a life. He has to get out there and try to find something con­struct­ive to do for the rest of his life be­cause he’s cer­tainly not go­ing to be the Gov­ernor of the state of New York. People aren’t go­ing to tol­er­ate the gut­ter muck he throws at me. Then he points the fin­ger at me, for de­fend­ing my­self, that I shouldn’t be re­act­ing to it” (FBN, 10/11).

Money Bombed

Paladino’s “on­line fun­drais­ing site” re­por­ted that the “‘money­bomb’” he “tried to con­duct re­cently” raised “just” $72K “as of” 10/8 PM. Paladino’s Face­book page “reached” $100K “just 20 minutes be­fore mid­night.” Cap­uto “ac­know­ledged Paladino has had trouble drum­ming up cash” (Amon, “Spin Cycle”, News­day, 10/8).

Mitt Rom­ney will be the Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee, Wis­con­sin sealed the deal, and he will pick Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio as his run­ning mate.

Write it down. And har­angue me mer­ci­lessly this sum­mer if I am wrong.

Column writ­ing, I have learned, is part pro­voca­tion and part ex­plan­a­tion.

There is noth­ing pro­voc­at­ive about de­clar­ing that Port­man will be Rom­ney’s run­ning mate, ex­cept that it hasn’t happened and I don’t know it an as ab­so­lute fact.

But everything tells me it will be so.

I’m not sug­gest­ing Port­man, nor am I ad­voc­at­ing for him. I don’t know if he will be a good pick or a bad pick. What Rom­ney and Port­man make of the tick­et is between them and the voters.

Here’s why I think it will hap­pen:

1. Rom­ney likes and re­spects Port­man. They have genu­ine rap­port. This does not come eas­ily to Rom­ney and it mat­ters a great deal. Rom­ney must trust his run­ning mate and feel as if that “port­fo­lio” is in safe and re­li­able hands. Everything I’ve learned about Rom­ney’s tem­pera­ment tells me he won’t risk his own sense of bal­ance and con­fid­ence — his sense of team dy­nam­ics — by choos­ing a flashy or demo­graph­ic­ally ap­pro­pri­ate run­ning mate he doesn’t trust and be­lieve in.

2. Port­man wants the job. He proved it by en­thu­si­ast­ic­ally en­dors­ing Rom­ney and throw­ing his Ohio or­gan­iz­a­tion fully be­hind him be­fore the cru­cial March 6 primary. Rom­ney won by 10,288 votes. Some Ohio Re­pub­lic­ans be­lieve Port­man pro­pelled Rom­ney to vic­tory. This much is cer­tain: He did not fail his polit­ic­al au­di­tion. Port­man backed Rom­ney, went to work and pro­duced tan­gible, pos­sibly dif­fer­ence-mak­ing res­ults. Ask your­self: Where would the race be now had Rick San­tor­um won Ohio? Port­man doesn’t guar­an­tee Rom­ney Ohio’s 18 elect­or­al votes. But nobody else can guar­an­tee their state, either. Port­man per­formed ex­pertly in the GOP’s 2010 wave elec­tion, win­ning with 57 per­cent and car­ry­ing 82 of 88 counties and 15 of 18 House dis­tricts. Lee Fish­er, the lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor who beat Sec­ret­ary of State Jen­nifer Brun­ner in that year’s Demo­crat­ic primary, did not start the race the pushover Port­man made him ap­pear.

3. Port­man is vet­ted, more so than any oth­er po­ten­tial pick. He’s been con­firmed not once but twice to cab­in­et posts — U.S. trade rep­res­ent­at­ive in 2005 and Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget dir­ect­or in 2006. The files are ready and, by Wash­ing­ton stand­ards, spot­less. Rom­ney knows his pick must get off to a good start and any “sur­prises” after the rol­lout will de­prive his cam­paign of pre­cious time, en­ergy, and mo­mentum. Port­man is a known com­mod­ity among Wash­ing­ton re­port­ers and is re­garded as both know­ledge­able and ac­cess­ible (and as a dis­penser of well-timed leaks). In the fren­zied en­vir­on­ment that will ac­com­pany the pre­lude to Rom­ney’s pick, the Port­man choice may land with a thud on the cha­risma meter, but it won’t set in mo­tion a wave of “guess what” stor­ies and will al­low Rom­ney to fo­cus on the cam­paign, not thorny rev­el­a­tions that must be ritu­al­ist­ic­ally turned in­to an us-against-them me­dia meme. In fact, Port­man might ac­tu­ally talk Bo­ston out of its hy­per­tens­ive and al­ler­gic re­ac­tions to re­port­ers.

4. Port­man is ready for the job and, more im­port­antly, primed for the ob­lig­a­tions that will fall upon Rom­ney if he’s elec­ted. In the trans­ition, Rom­ney will need skilled and quick­sil­ver ad­vice and guid­ance on the ma­gilla lame-duck ses­sion that’s com­ing. In those pre­cious few weeks in Novem­ber and Decem­ber the na­tion will have to de­cide the fate of the fol­low­ing: the ex­pir­ing Bush tax cuts, the ex­pir­ing payroll-tax cut, un­fin­ished spend­ing bills, the ex­pir­ing Medi­care “doc fix” that shiel­ded phys­i­cians from a 27 per­cent premi­um cut, ex­ten­ded un­em­ploy­ment be­ne­fits, the sched­uled $1.2 tril­lion across-the-board dis­cre­tion­ary spend­ing cut (se­quester), the farm bill, and quite prob­ably, a trans­port­a­tion bill. Oh, and one oth­er thing. A $3 tril­lion debt-ceil­ing in­crease will come up then or right after In­aug­ur­a­tion Day. A lame-duck Con­gress with a pres­id­ent-elect may de­cide to punt these tough is­sues to the new ad­min­is­tra­tion. If so, no gov­ernor or minty-fresh tea party sen­at­or will suf­fice. Port­man knows the West Wing like few oth­ers (he also served in the White House Coun­sel’s Of­fice and the Of­fice of Le­gis­lat­ive Af­fairs un­der Pres­id­ent Bush the eld­er). He knows the House and Sen­ate and served on the su­per com­mit­tee. He knows what the num­bers are, what they mean, and how the polit­ics of budget, tax­a­tion, and trade work. Rom­ney will have to gov­ern and gov­ern quick. The head­aches will be im­me­di­ate and the choices dif­fi­cult. If gov­ern­ing mat­ters, Port­man pre­vails.

5. Port­man is to Rom­ney what Al Gore was to Bill Clin­ton. He amp­li­fies the cent­ral mes­sage and the skills set the “al­tern­at­ive” tick­et brings. The choice is about Pres­id­ent Obama and an­oth­er term. It’s a fir­ing choice more than a hir­ing choice. In this con­text, the al­tern­at­ive needs to be ac­cept­able, not ex­cit­ing. Port­man is not Rom­ney in mini­ature and Rom­ney isn’t Port­man in mini­ature. But they are both board­room-ready and polit­ic­ally in­clined. They are cool, ana­lyt­ic­al, data-driv­en and con­vers­ant in the cent­ral is­sue of the day — the eco­nomy. This is not ‘92 and Rom­ney won’t have a force carving up the Demo­crat­ic base like Ross Perot did to Bush the eld­er. Rom­ney’s not cha­ris­mat­ic and nev­er will be. Port­man re­in­forces all that Rom­ney of­fers or hopes to of­fer the coun­try. And won’t suf­fer cha­risma com­par­is­ons to Port­man. Don’t kid your­self that this doesn’t mat­ter to Rom­ney.

I’ve in­ter­viewed roughly 30 Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats about a Rom­ney-Port­man tick­et and the down­sides and none of the above points are con­tested. They aren’t even ser­i­ously de­bated.

There are real down­sides and risks to a Port­man pick ex­pressed by Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats alike, but giv­en dif­fer­ent weight and em­phas­is: Port­man’s a bore, and their tick­et would be bore­dom squared, or squares squared; he of­fers noth­ing to wo­men voters or Latino voters; he car­ries the taint of Bush-Cheney policies; and he’s not con­ser­vat­ive enough for the tea party. To one de­gree or an­oth­er, these are all val­id com­plaints. But Rom­ney has the same per­ceived “flaws” and he’s go­ing to win the nom­in­a­tion. Port­man can’t fix Rom­ney’s flaws. Neither can any­one else. That means all oth­er things be­ing equal, Rom­ney will look for someone he knows and trusts; who has de­livered for him; who can put a vi­tal swing state in play; who can im­me­di­ately help him tackle the hard­est is­sues if he’s elec­ted; and whose se­lec­tion tells the coun­try Rom­ney’s first big de­cision as a nom­in­ee wasn’t a gas­ket-blow­ing gamble or one fes­tooned with the gar­ish and out­moded trap­pings of re­gion­al or ideo­lo­gic­al bal­ance.

I could be wrong.

But I doubt it.

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