Did Team Romney Believe Its Own BS?
Spin or detachment—it had to be one or the other.
Not that it matters much, but one of the questions lingering after President Obama's decisive victory on Tuesday is this: did Team Romney believe its own bullshit?
Dana Liebelson notes that there were several signs of profound denial emanating from the Romney camp in the waning hours. Which might explain declarations made by top Romneyites in the closing days.
About forty-eight hours before the polls would open, Rich Beeson, the political director for Camp Romney, said the following on—where else?—Fox News:
There’s an intensity factor out there on the side of the Republicans, that is a significant gap and we see it out on the ground, we see it when people are knocking on the doors, we see it when people are making the phone calls and again, it gets back to the simple fact that Governor Romney is out there talking about big things and big change, not about small things and so I think as we start seeing returns coming in from New Hampshire, from southeastern Pennsylvania, from northern Virginia, from Cuyahoga County in Ohio, I think it is going to become pretty clear that there is going to be a widespread repudiation of the Obama administration, and, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan will be elected the next President and Vice President of the United States. And I don’t think we’ll have to wait very long to know that.
In case any reporters missed it, the Romney campaign rushed out the statement in a press release.
On the morning of Election Day, senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie went on—where else?—Fox News and said:
[Romney's] got momentum here on election day. And I think that's why he's going to win tonight, not just win, but win decisively. I don't think there’s going to be any doubt at the end of tonight who the next president is going to be.
And the campaign zapped out another press release.
It would be interesting to know—if Gillespie or Beeson would ever be so candid—whether these two top Romneyites (and their comrades) really bought this. Or were they merely putting out baseless spin because….well, because that's what they do? For weeks, the Romney campaign had peddled the myth of Mittmentum. Was that a cynical ploy or an act of self-delusion? Either answer is hardly flattering.
By the way, if you didn't see it, check out this list of pundit-predictions-gone-bad. One of the best—or worst—comes from Newt Gingrich. In late October, he said on—where else?—Fox News, "I believe the minimum result will be 53-47 [percent] Romney, over 300 electoral votes, and the Republicans will pick up the Senate. I base that just on years and years of experience.” Yes, years and years.
And a sad-and-funny account of excessive Romney GOTV fecklessness written after the election by a discouraged Romney volunteer may be useful in assessing whether Romney and his strategists (and their pundit backers) had any idea what was happening on the ground—that is, in the real world.