All this talk about grits is making me hungry.
But seriously. Yesterday in Mississippi, Mitt Romney received the endorsement from the state’s governor Phil Bryant, and after Romney commented that Bryant’s bodyguard was helping to turn him into an “unofficial Southerner” and a lover of grits.
As a someone who spent a considerable portion of his youth growing up in South Carolina, I find any talk about grits to be appealing.
Romney is working hard to pick up favor in the south. We saw what happened to him in South Carolina and Tennessee (although he did pick up Virginia). So, are his attempts at relating to folks below the Mason-Dixon endearing, let alone effective?
This morning, Joe Scarborough along with fmr. Clinton White House Press Secretary, Dee Dee Myers, Mark Halperin and Steve Rattner discussed the relatability issue and if we’re not just looking at another John Kerry.
Here’s what the crew had to say:
Joe Scarborough: Did you ever hear Bill Clinton call any state an ‘away game’?
Dee Dee Myers: No.
Scarborough: Especially, as we were saying before, this is the Deep South. This is where Republicans win. You go to the south and you walk on stage and you’re a Republican, you hear the roars go up and you’re like ‘I’m home.’ But for Mitt the south is away?
Myers: Because Bill Clinton was a Southerner obviously, but his home game was with any group of people – middle class, working class people – that were struggling, that were having a hard time in the economy that he knew he could connect with. And those voters were everywhere. And so he always knew he could find a sweet spot…One thing that Mitt Romney doesn’t have that Bill Clinton had is natural gifts as a campaigner. So you’d see him on the campaign trail…and you’d see just flashes of total brilliance where you’d say this guy is a singular political campaigner. [He was] really substantive on policy, kinda knew what he wanted to do. You don’t see that in the quiet moments around Mitt Romney.
Scarborough: …I knew when I walked into a veteran’s hall, I knew when I was talking to gun owners, when I walked into churches, I knew it was home field. And I knew all my other candidates – without me saying anything – were in big trouble…And then I knew that when I went and talked in front of country-club Republicans, I was the outsider. So here’s a question: What is Mitt Romney’s home field? What group is Mitt Romney comfortable talking in front of?
Mark Halperin: He’s pretty good in a corporate board room, I guess. That’s probably home field for him. You could go [to Romney]: ‘You live in the New York area now and you could go to Cambridge, Mass. or Madison, Wisc. and you would do fine. And you wouldn’t think of it as an away game.’ The mindset that that reflects is a really dangerous thing. Not just because the south is so important to the party. It reflects a sense that he cannot appeal anywhere he wants. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George Bush…could go anywhere in the country and feel like [they] could win this group over, [they] have affinity with these people.
Scarborough: There’s a comparison here with John Kerry that I know John Kerry does not like. And he has said as much, but are we looking at a candidate much like John Kerry?
Steve Rattner: Yes, there are regional issues, and yes the south may look like an away game but I think with Romney getting out of his comfort zone – which may be these five or six people inside a corporate board room – everything is sort of an away game. He just doesn’t seem to be able to connect with or relate to the average person.
Scarborough: That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person; it just means he’s not an effective politician…I’m sure Mitt Romney would be a great Secretary of State or Treasury, but the question is: Does he have what it takes, does he have the political skills to be President of the United States?”