Utah's biggest newspaper just endorsed...Barack Obama for President. WOW. This might be devastating for Mitt Romney. His mother was born and raised there. His parents met and fell in love there. He went to college there. He met his wife there. He was married there. His church is headquartered there. He ran an Olympics there. So, what kind of man gets shunned by a town with such deep connection to that man? The Salt Lake Tribune is happy to tell you.
Titled, "Too Many Mitts", The Salt Lake Tribune begins:
Nowhere has Mitt Romney’s pursuit of the presidency been more warmly welcomed or closely followed than here in Utah. The Republican nominee’s political and religious pedigrees, his adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state.This foreboding start, of acknowledging Romney's strengths but saying, "this is the guy we fell in love with back then, who did so much for our state", portends something very damaging to his narrative: Mitt Romney has abandoned his beliefs to win the nation's highest office.
But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State’s favorite adopted son. After all, Romney managed to save the state from ignominy, turning the extravaganza into a showcase for the matchless landscapes, volunteerism and efficiency that told the world what is best and most beautiful about Utah and its people.
In short, this is the Mitt Romney we knew, or thought we knew, as one of us.
Sadly, it is not the only Romney, as his campaign for the White House has made abundantly clear, first in his servile courtship of the tea party in order to win the nomination, and now as the party’s shape-shifting nominee. From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: "Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?"Mind you, this is THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, in the nation's reddest state! And it is positively excoriating Romney for abandoning his principles in order to court and assuage various groups of people at various times. This is brutal and speaks to why Obama detests this man on a visceral and political level: Mitt Romney is a man without conviction; without a steady moral compass. That is a dangerous man to have as the nation's President.
Politicians routinely tailor their words to suit an audience. Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.
Next comes the policy and the math:
More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions, is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.This is a substantive rebuttal of, and hammers nails in the coffin in, Romney's "just trust me" approach to policy. This also extends the arc of Obama's Debate Two "sketchy" line:
Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here; I want to spend 7 (trillion dollars) or $8 trillion, and then we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it, you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal. And neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn't add up.It would seem that Obama's performance and verbiage in Debate Two were successful, having pointed out a fundamental flaw in Romney's campaign argument. That the Tribune makes a similar case as Obama highlights the fact that Debate Two "connected".
The SLC Tribune moves on to its most devastating sentence, and the one that encapsulates what Romney will deservedly be remembered for once he loses this election and, as Ann promised, packs up his political bags for good:
If this portrait of a Romney willing to say anything to get elected seems harsh, we need only revisit his branding of 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, yet feel victimized and entitled to government assistance.His spiritual home state just called Romney out on the election's most glaring example of high-nosed disdain for America. Incredible. Just incredible.
Continues the Salt Lake Tribune, defending our president and making an effective case for why "he earned another term":
And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office.Here, the Tribune acknowledges that government does, in fact, create jobs and helps states in areas they themselves are unable to. Yes! At this point, the paper goes on to list even more reasons why they believe Obama did a terrific job. But I will include the final two, hard-hitting paragraphs:
In the first months of his presidency, Obama acted decisively to stimulate the economy. His leadership was essential to passage of the badly needed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though Republicans criticize the stimulus for failing to create jobs, it clearly helped stop the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs. The Utah Legislature used hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to plug holes in the state’s budget.
In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem-solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.BOOM. That's it. Romney is finished. Shredded. Eviscerated by his own hometown. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.
Several commenters have poignantly pointed out that Salt Lake City is far more liberal than the state as a whole, and that as a result, this endorsement won't change much electorally for him in the state of Utah. This is a fair and solid point. Nonetheless, outside of Utah proper, most Americans do not know the demographics of the state. The headline, "Salt Lake City Tribune Endorses Obama, Excoriates Romney As 'Shape-shifting'" is damaging at the optical and gut levels. It also dovetails into the narrative of Romney as a man who will willingly, as Romney's father's longtime aide said, "say or do anything to win an election". This is potentially very damaging on the stump or in headlines; the last thing Romney wanted injected into the political zeitgeist is Utah's own largest newspaper unparsimoniously corroborating the Romney-as-convictionless-liar theme, or, at best, unambiguously supporting the notion that Romney indeed has #Romnesia.
As such, I think this is an important endorsement with practical optical and political consequences in the days ahead. If it helps, think about Team Obama's response today upon hearing about this. Do you think Obama rapid-response aides are saying to each other, "Eh, that's cool, but it's not a huge deal. Salt Lake City's pretty liberal anyway"?
In Romney's wildest dreams...
This larger story (and our diary) is making the rounds on Twitter, and there is a thick layer of shock coming from it. It's coming in and it's coming fast. The general consensus seems to be the words "This is big."
Greg Sargent called the endorsement "very harsh on Romney" and POLITICO said, "Given Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, as well as his role in the 2002 Winter Olympics, there was a reasonable expectation that the editorial board might lean the other way [for Romney this time around]."
Presumably, Tagg Romney wants to rush the Tribune's lobby and take a swing at the editorial board...
The story Salt Lake Tribune story is on fire. Everyone from The Daily Beast to Rob Delaney to Roger Ebert to Alysa Milano is tweeting the Salt Lake Tribune editorial's link. Mother Jones has taken special relish given the special inclusion of Romney's 47 Percent quote. People are very surprised, and the endorsement tweets are coming in at several a minute. It's amazing.
Not good for Romney. It's a beautiful thing.