Mitt Romney called in to a popular sports talk show in Alabama yesterday, a day ahead of the state’s Republican presidential primary. As interviews go, this seemed like a fairly easy one – it was unlikely the host, Paul Finebaum, would press the former governor for an explanation about his support for health care mandates.
Indeed, it’s not like Romney would go on the show, repeat his mistake from two weeks ago, and talk about being friends with millionaire team owners again, right? Wrong.
[A]t one point, Mr. Finebaum asked Mr. Romney, as a New England Patriots fan, where he thought Peyton Manning should go as a free agent, and the candidate highlighted his friendship with football team owners — echoing comments in which he explained his affinity for Nascar by noting he knew the owners of Nascar teams.
“I’m surprised to hear that Denver’s thinking about him,” Mr. Romney said. “I don’t want him in our neck of the woods, let’s put it that way.”
“I’ve got a lot of good friends, the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, both owners are friends of mine,” he added. “But let’s keep him away from New England.”
Romney really is approaching self-parody here. Just two weeks ago, Romney was in Florida for the Daytona 500, and was asked whether he follows car racing. “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans,” he responded, “but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
Romney’s boast that he’s tight with the millionaires who own NASCAR teams came just two days after Romney boasted about his wife driving “a couple of Cadillacs.”
In the larger context, a theme emerges when we consider what connects so many of Romney’s tone-deaf verbal missteps, including his recent explanation that he’s “not concerned about the very poor,” which came on the heels of Romney insisting that making over $374,000 in speaking fees in a year is “not very much” money. It followed Romney suggesting elected office is only for the rich, clumsily talking about his fondness for being able to fire people, demanding that talk of economic justice be limited to “quiet rooms,” accusing those who care about income inequality of “envy,” daring Rick Perry to accept a $10,000 bet, joking about being “unemployed,” arguing that those who slip into poverty are still middle class, and suggesting that Americans should somehow feel sorry for poor banks.
There was also that “corporations are people, my friend” classic.
What do all of these lines have in common? When it comes to his wealth, Romney is a clumsy rich guy who hasn’t learned how to talk about these issues in public.