Mitt Romney won Nevada handily, and no surprise there. As I said a few days ago, Mitt could not have scheduled the February contests better if he created them on his own spreadsheet. February consists of a series of caucuses and primaries that feature states that by and large went decisively for Romney in his otherwise forgettable 2008 run, neighboring states of his far flung (and geographically strategically placed!) “homes” of Utah, Michigan and Massachusetts.
He won 48% of the vote, with Gingrich at 23%, Paul at 19% and Santorum 11% (with 71% of the precincts reporting). Romney received 51% of the vote in 2008, with Paul in 2nd at 14%. So Nevadans still like Mitt – about 25% of Republican caucus-goers are Mormons, and 91% of them chose him – but not quite as much as they did back then. Thus Mitt was denied a desired 50%+ win, once again falling a bit short of attracting majority Republican support, which he had hoped would help put to rest the “weak on the right” anti-Mitt arguments.
So Romney wins will fill February, while the other candidates appear to be picking states to make a breakthrough, take a stand, slow the juggernaut, delay the coronation, trip the light fantastic or chase new metaphors. Ron Paul was the only candidate to visit Maine, whose caucus started today (with results not announced for another week). Rick Santorum spent time this week in Missouri, and also hopes to make a better mark in Minnesota and Colorado. And Newt Gingrich, vowing once again that he is in it for the long haul, is trying to get through February so he can get back to the South in March, where he hopes to pick up wins in Georgia, his home state, Tennessee and perhaps even Oklahoma on Super Tuesday.
It wasn’t the noisiest week in Nevada….the biggest news was the endorsement that Romney received, rather surprisingly, from Donald Trump. Trump was rumored to be backing Gingrich, but The Donald announced otherwise. Romney, in accepting the endorsement (and I’m sure he gave thought to ignoring it) got off the only line he has ever uttered that made me laugh: “There are some things that you just can’t imagine happening in your life…this is one of them.” Being the earnest unfunny guy that he is, he probably meant it as a genuine genuflecting compliment, but I’d like to believe at least some small part of his tongue was in his cheek.
Almost immediately the news media showed many clips of Mitt’s “I like to be able to fire people…” gaffe back-to-back with Trump’s “You’re fired!” signature. Not quite the imagery Romney wants, and hardly unexpected. But I guess he figured he should swallow anything that might bolster his cred on the right….
Back next week with the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses…..
I don’t have a song for you this time, but instead I offer the amusement of a piece that summarized Mitt’s continued campaign difficulties in Nevada…apparently not enough to hurt him, but…
Romney Gaffes Escalate in Nevada
LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney continued verbal gaffes at an escalating rate while campaigning today across Nevada, raising more questions about his ability to understand the financial difficulties faced by average Americans and connect with their woes.
While on a rope line in Reno, Romney, often awkward with small talk, attempted to break the ice by venturing guesses at what vehicles potential voters drove. “Maserati?” he asked a bewildered John Simpson, a plumber. “You look like a Porsche owner to me!” he beamed at Betty Lou Fredericks, a receptionist. And welder Leon Arblock’s face turned beet red when confronted with Romney’s conjecture for him: “Hmm, you’re a toughie, can’t decide between a Mercedes or a Beamer…”
Later, in the small town of Elko, Romney attempted to explain a prior gaffe about poor people. “It’s not that I don’t care about poor people,” he ventured. “It’s just that I’ve never met a single one. So while I know life can be hard, even with a massive socialist European-type safety net, I view the whole thing conceptually. But I can’t wait to stoke up the white board and crank out a Powerpoint and fix it!”
Romney later stood on the front steps of a small courthouse in Winnemuca, and gazing out at the assembled crowd, he intoned, “This is America before me. And it reminds me of a gathering we had at the estate in New Hampshire, a wonderful day like this, sailing races in the morning, shuffleboard at lunch, tennis in the afternoon, all with the family and friends, and various trustees, investment advisers and lawyers. Ah, yes, what good sport and fun!”
Finally, Romney was confronted by a grandmother in Wells, listening as she described, in a quivering voice, the difficult choice she frequently had to make between buying her medications or her dinner. At first he grasped her hands in his as he described movingly challenging decisions he’d faced in his own life, including what he termed “…the eternal dilemma: chateaubriand versus filet mignon!” But then he grinned as he came upon his solution, and said to her winningly, “I know! Why not simply go to the ATM in town and draw out a few thousand bucks and have both?”
Campaign officials downplayed the events, which rocketed across the Internet during the day, stating that Mr. Romney cared deeply for the common man and was simply “displaying his playful side” in these exchanges.
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