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Mitt Romney at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday.
Surrogates are supposed be your cheerleaders — the men and women who go out there and support you by lending their name to your cause. However, I'm not sure what we've seen from these so-called surrogates this year can qualify as support. Sure, both President Obama and Mitt Romney have able champions (Michelle Obama and Ann Romney being two of the best), but lately it seems we've seen gaffe after gaffe from a variety of places. Why is this? It's easy to point at former rivals of Mitt Romney and say, 'Well [insert X name here] was a former a rival and is still stinging from their loss' (lookin' at you Newt Gingrich).
The fact is that there will always be hurt feelings left over from a bitterly fought primary season — just look at the 2008 primary race between then Senator Obama and then Senator Clinton. The difference between that campaign and this one is that those two came together once the choice of the nominee was clear, and the current Secretary of State never missed a beat, throwing her political and fundraising skills behind Obama. This season, however, has seen a lot of surrogates (in particular, Mitt Romney's) go on cable news or Sunday morning shows and really blow the message they were supposed to deliver. Below are a list of surrogates who have done a less than stellar job in support of their nominee, Mitt Romney.
Donald Trump led a campaign last summer to prove President Obama wasn't born in this country. It failed spectacularly because Obama got The Donald pretty good at the White House Correspondents Dinner and then he got Osama bin Laden really good a day later. After that Trump kept quiet. Now that he's holding fundraisers for Romney in Las Vegas, however, he's been doubling down on the birther attacks. With these rants, he managed to steal the spotlight from Mitt Romney on the same day the candidate clinched the GOP nomination. Not cool. Trump reminds me of a crazy uncle you invite to your birthday party — he's supposed to be there for you, but all he can talk about is how it was really him who invented the iPad. Nobody listened to that crazy uncle then. Nobody is listening to Donald Trump now.
What can you say about former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich that hasn't already been said? He's an ideas guy, he speaks his mind regardless of the consequences and he's an amazing public speaker. He also holds grudges and has an ego so large that it's kind of sad to think that he won't be the one debating President Obama in the fall. As for his support of his current... err... formal rival Mitt Romney, it's going to be a tough sell for Newt to convince the American people that he feels anything but disdain for the former Massachusetts Governor.
Last month saw the return of the Tea Party Queen Michele Bachmann. (NOTE: "Tea Party Queen" is also my professional wrestling name). Anyway...where were we? Oh yeah. Michele Bachmann: former presidential candidate and Mitt Romney rival. During the primary Congresswoman Bachmann slammed Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts health care plan and claimed, several times, that there was no way Mitt Romney could beat Barack Obama. During debates, on the trail in Iowa, and on the Sunday morning shows, Bachmann laid into Romney on how his record didn't survive the "falling off the chair laughing test." Seeing as how she was the first to drop out after Iowa, it's no surprise she became one of the first former presidential candidates to come out in favor of Mittens. She stood side by side with Romney and gave him the greatest praise she could muster, putting her hands in the air to weigh the options: "President Barack Obama or President Mitt Romney." It's clear she thinks Romney is a better than Barack Obama. It's clear she thinks everyone else is, too.
We have Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Romney adviser, for these awesome etch-a-sketch memes. I can't imagine anyone in the campaign thanking him, though. Not after he went on CNN and claimed that everything Mitt Romney said during the primary would be wiped clean once the general election came along. The image of Mitt Romney the flip-flopper continues.
Rudy Giuliani has been doing a lot for Willard lately. Last month, the two appeared together in the completely unpolitical setting of a New York City firehouse to mark the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. This weekend, "America's Mayor" went on CNN and threw his support behind his friend. By "threw" I of course mean he took the back of his hand and slapped Romney across the face. When asked to explain his criticism of Romney's job creation record, Mr. Giuliani opened his eyes so wide I thought he was going to turn green and tear my TV apart. What he said is considered "support" for Mitt Romney's record on job creation...I guess.
Cory Booker: Former Obama surrogate
I love bipartisanship. This country really, really, needs it right now. I also dislike negative advertisements (I don't care how many times people say it works — promoting a positive message is always better than a negative one. What can I say? I'm an optimist.)
Here's the thing, trying to fly above the fray and criticize your own party for negative advertising during a very tight election season isn't going to win you any points with anybody except your opponents. Cory Booker, hero Mayor of Newark, did just that on Meet The Press a few weeks back, saying that the negative attacks coming from both sides "nauseated" him. It was then that Booker, heroically managing to keep his lunch down, continued to talk about how he didn't want to attack private equity, which is the profession Mitt Romney used to work in and is the basis for many of the Obama campaign's negative attack ads. Look, here's the deal, I hate negative campaigning as well — I watch a lot of it for a living — but when your job is to go out and give your full support for the president it's probably best not to criticize his campaign's strategy. He tried to clean it up, but I mean come on dude, really?
Nobody's perfect. We can't expect these surrogates to go out there and stick to the party line all the time. But this year it seems like the ego, ambition and bitter feelings toward the nominee are getting in the way of getting Romney elected. Again, there will always be bitter feelings left over after a tough primary. I'm sure those high profile speeches that both Hillary and Bill Clinton gave at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2008 weren't the easiest speeches to give. But they gave them. Brilliantly. Can anyone really imagine Newt Gingrich swallowing his pride long enough to deliver a warm spirited endorsement of Mitt Romney at the RNC in a few months? He very well might, but if the last few weeks have been any indication, it's going to be tougher for him than it was for Hillary Clinton.