Why is the Romney campaign conspiracy-mongering?

This is not a post on Donald Trump — although — it’s certainly true that the Romney’s campaign embrace of the birther upholds Trump’s conspiracy mongering.

But there’s several other situations related to birtherism as well as the Romney campaign’s response to critics about their link to Trump.

One case of conspiracy-mongering has to do with claims made by the Romney campaign.  In explaining why they kept the press in the dark about a campaign event, a member of his staff offered this rather strange explanation:

“The reason for keeping it quiet is because we knew if word got out that Solyndra would do everything in their power and the Obama administration would do everything in their power to stop us from having this news conference,” an aide said in a briefing en route.

And Romney said, “There are people who don’t want to see this event occur.”

Really? The Obama campaign would somehow try to stop a press conference, interfering with the right to free speech and free assembly? There’s some sort of high level conspiracy by the White House?

And on the same day, the Romney campaign organized about 100 people to boo and otherwise interrupt a Boston presentation by Obama strategist David Axelrod, which focused on Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts.  A bubble machine was used to blow bubbles toward Axelrod.

Why did the Romney campaign say they did this? Angry about some heckling by Obama supporters elsewhere,

Team Romney views the Boston event as payback.  But they also, by striking back bigger and louder, want to send a message to Team Obama that Romney is ready to fight.  Romney aides characterize the Axelrod event as a “sneak attack” in Romney’s home territory. (Source).

This, too, is odd. Holding a press conference in Boston is not a “sneak attack.” In fact, it is rather ordinary political discourse. George W. Bush held an event in Boston criticizing John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. Was that a “sneak attack”? Of course not.

So, why is the Romney campaign conspiracy-mongering?

For one, they are appealing to the same sort of voters who suspect Obama and perhaps are birthers. These are voters who are convinced that President Obama is a “Chicago thug” who has done all sorts of corrupt, underhanded things.

The fact that there have been quite the dearth of corruption investigations during the Obama presidency doesn’t dissuade them. This is connected to the sense that Obama is somehow illegitimate.

So suggesting that the White House might have tried to stop the Solyndra event by the Romney campaign signals that Romney “gets them” and maybe agrees with this view of Obama.

Moreover, all of these — standing by Trump, doing heckling/bubble machine “guerrilla warfare” against Obama, and claiming there’s a White House conspiracy — are aspects of the Romney campaign saying it refuses to back down and projecting a version of strength.

These are consistent with what Romney staff said the other day about not playing the “repudiation game” and criticizing McCain as seeming weak because he stood against nasty, conspiratorial attacks on Obama in 2008.

This is basically a rev up the base strategy.

At the same time, it provides notice to the press that the Romney campaign may want to disrupt Obama events in the future, as they did in Boston. Whether the press will question all this remains to be seen.

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For some examples of how Romney’s approach is playing with his party’s base, see these reader comments to an article by Byron York:

Good for Romney campaign! The Obama Campaign is a dirty Chicago politics billion dollar bomb machine with a candidate that will do anything to be re-elected. he is a crafty, secretive, divisive, deceptive masterful politician who can criticize the rich and slip into their pocketbooks the same day. Obama is a Narcissistic Sociopath Socialist oozing with charm on demand and trying every tactic to avoid his record. Americans are smarter than he thinks we are.

Good for the Romney campaign….we can’t allow elections to be decided by thugs from Chicago, fraud, intimidation, and cheap tricks. Since the media cannot be counted on for a fair coverage, we conservatives have to work even harder. Those who thought Romney was a weak candidate are surprised and delighted with all the counterpunches to the lies Obama has gotten away with in the past. You want to talk about dogs…we’ll talk about dogs…religion…well we’ve got that one covered, too. Want to talk about business experience and failed companies….can we say literally every so-called green energy gift to Obama’s bundlers? We have the amnunition….bring it on!

I love to see this!! McCain’s insistence on sticking to the high road when the f!ght was in the trenches is why he lost in 2008. Republicans need to realize that politics is as ugly as it has ever been so they need to get comfortable with getting dirty, put their big boy undies on and f!ght their ugly tails off.

We won the Revolutionary War because we learned from the Indians to hide and shot from the bushes and hit and run. The British used formations marching and traditional European methods. The Democrats are fighting dirty, but, so can we. Let’s win this time, kick ass!

 

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.