Plunging deep into the American zeitgeist, Mitt Romney has put his finger on precisely what the nation needs at this moment: A final Armageddon between plutocrats.
Team Romney is apparently moving beyond insular concerns like winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016 and is focusing on the general election when he would likely face former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The former Massachusetts governor’s camp has determined that the best course of action for him is not to defend his own wealth but to make it clear that he is only moderately more well-off than his likely Democratic opponent.
“It’s going to be hard for Hillary Clinton to make Mitt Romney’s wealth a fruitful line of attack, with her multi-million dollar mansions in Georgetown and Chappaqua and her jet-setting lifestyle of the rich and famous,” an anonymous Romney aide told The Boston Globe recently.
The Globe noted that Romney will have a willing participant in the contrived fight over which of these obscenely wealthy political figures has a stronger claim to financial hardship.
“Clinton, too, has struggled in talking about her wealth, saying she was once “dead broke” while in her $5 million home,” The Globe observed.
Team Clinton pushed back against the self-evidently accurate charge that Hillary has achieved the American dream by noting that her priorities are not reflective of her net worth.
“While Mitt Romney tries in vain to reinvent himself as a friend to those who are struggling, Hillary Clinton is continuing her life-long work to lift up the middle class and level the playing field for all Americans,” said Adrienne Elrod, communications director for the pro-Clinton Correct the Record PAC, in an email to CNN.
CNN further breaks down why Romney will have a hard time appealing to an increasingly populist American electorate via this approach:
The comment was also included in a new report by the Boston Globe details how Romney purchased or built two new homes after the 2012 Republican presidential nominee’s election loss. The former private equity CEO, whose wealth became an overriding theme for Democratic attacks, has a total of four homes: a mansion in La Jolla, California; a ski chalet in Park City, Utah; a large home in Salt Lake City; and a lake house on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire.
The home in La Jolla, complete with a car elevator, has been undergoing renovations to make it bigger since 2012, and according the Globe, is now being shown to potential buys by a broker.
“In politics if you have a problem or challenge, hang a lantern on it,” former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, paraphrasing Attorney General Robert Kennedy, once said. That is to say, don’t run from your greatest liability. Embrace it, get out ahead of it, and confront it on your own terms. That is precisely not what either Mitt Romney or Hillary Clinton is doing here.
This impracticable effort to mitigate the damage done to the Romney brand in 2012 (and the Clinton brand in 2008) is doomed from the start. Neither Clinton nor Romney will assuage voters’ concerns about their wealth preventing them from understanding the challenges faced by average Americans by claiming that they’re only marginally better than the alternative. Their objective must be to convince voters that their success does not prevent them from serving as competent mangers of America’s affairs. In fact, their experience will only allow them to be more effective in that role. Instead, their instincts are to pander to the loudest and most provocative voices in the room.
Whoever is advising both these campaigns is not earning their paycheck.