The Boston Globe, 4/19/1994
Sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night counting sheep and thinking about the day I often wonder about: 1) ponies and 2) the fact that a bigger deal hasn’t been made about the fact Mitt Romney used to dress up like a police officer in college and pull people over. For fun.
College is a time in many Americans’ lives when they do stupid shit like smoke too much pot, drink a lot, or have a lot of sex. That’s considered pretty “de rigueur” in college; these are kinks you work out of your system. You then leave said institution to go through the modern world paying your taxes and doing the right thing.
But the GOP presidential candidate had a different gig: instead of drinking and smoking like the rest of America (he claims to have had “one sip” of beer and one drag of a cigarette his entire life, a number we don’t dispute), he would remain perfectly sober and put on a police uniform and pull people over.
According to TV producer Robin Madden, a former friend of Romney during his time at Stanford:
“He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father,” George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. “He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler. We thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty creepy.’ And after that, we didn’t have much interaction with him.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Romney sat down for a 45-minute chat at a picnic table with a handful of voters from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. He was there to listen and learn about the financial concerns of everyday Americans — to demonstrate that, though he’s a multi-multi-millionaire with a car elevator, he’s still fighting for the common man. And for most of the rectangular-table discussion, that’s what he did. But the only thing anyone is going to remember about the summit at Bethel Park is what Romney said about the cookies.
“I’m not sure about these cookies,” Romney said at one point, eyeing a plate of cookies on the table as if they were covered in human excrement. “They don’t — they don’t look like you made them.” He turned to the woman next to him. “You didn’t, did you?” After she confirmed that she did not, in fact, personally bake the cookies, Romney theorized as to the where such unappetizing specimens might have come from. “No, no,” he continued, as his entire campaign staff died inside. “They came from the, local, uh, 7-Eleven” — “bakery,” someone interjected — ”bakery, or wherever.” Indeed, the cookies were the pride of the popular local Bethel Bakery, which had heard about the Romney event and made sure to get their trademark treats in front of him.
That any politician — much less one already battling a reputation for being out of touch — would ever vocalize such thoughts, in front of voters, on camera, is absolutely baffling. Who cares if it might be a cookie from 7-Eleven? Just eat the fucking cookie. Or, at the very least, don’t go out of your way to insult it. But the evidence is mounting that Romney just can’t help it. He has no filter, no ear for what he sounds like in the company of Normals. Which is a pretty unfortunate condition, for a presidential candidate.
Eat the cookie, Mitt.
Matt Taibbi’s got a nice piece in Rolling Stone on Romney:
Romney suffers from the same problem afflicting the likes of Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon: He’s been living for so long with the delusion that the way he makes his money is fair and honest, he’s started to believe not only that he deserves his wealth, but the converse – that the poor deserve to be poor. He’s incapable of sympathizing with people who can’t pay their bills, because their condition is tied too closely in his mind with the question of how he made his enormous fortune: If you ask Romney to imagine what life is like for someone who’s broke, what he hears is you accusing him of making that happen. (In Romneyspeak, you’ve “attacked capitalism.”) In short, he’s a narcissist. They’re all narcissists, these colossal Wall Street types – they have to be, because the way they make their money makes moral sense only if you’re viewing things from the top of the heap. Asking them to step outside that comfort zone, into the world where the rest of us live, is an unthinkable outrage. It’s hard to be likable when you can’t even temporarily look at things from the bottom up, which is why it was no surprise that Romney flopped among voters in South Carolina who describe themselves as “falling behind” financially; they chose Newt by a margin of almost two to one.
As late as five days before the South Carolina primary, Gingrich was still trailing Romney by double digits in the state. His comeback began at the debate in Myrtle Beach, when he had an instantly viral exchange with African-American Fox commentator Juan Williams in which he triumphantly defended the idea that 11-year-olds should get jobs and that black people prefer food stamps to honest employment. The crowd was howling for blood, literally booing Mexico when Williams mentioned that Romney’s father had been born there and then, in a moment that one had to see to believe, loudly booing the Golden Rule when Ron Paul sensibly suggested that we “don’t do to other nations what we don’t want to have them do to us.”
You could almost see the light go on in Newt’s head. He alone understood that during the primary season, one doesn’t worry about how some vacillating Ohio independent might perceive one’s rhetoric next fall: One carves up the bloodiest bits of red meat and hurls them at the immediate audience, and one does so with joy and a gleam in the eye. “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them,” Newt said. The debate, remember, took place in the Carolinas, not far from where Jackson’s Trail of Tears genocide began, making Newt’s remark almost comically offensive. But hey, the Cherokee vote is not a large one, for obvious reasons. The surviving, non-Indian audience cheered wildly.
Amount the Romneys gave to the Mormon church in 2010.
Actual excerpt from Mitt Romney’s stump speech