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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
posted by Justin Hart | 10:00 AM | permalink
Ahhh schadenfreude, the fine rhetorical art of kicking someone while they're down; sticking it to "the man" when "the man" just got stuck; pulling out the gloat as he goes down with the boat.

I really hate to spoil the fun... but there will be no schadenfreude today! (Except for me rhetorically sticking to those who REALLY, REALLY wanted Mitt Romney to push poll his own candidacy?!)

Let's review some of the rhetoric leading up to the brick wall that Alex Gage & Co. dropped on National Review Online and the notion of a Romney self-push-poll. These are taken from comments on the post at Race42008 entitled: "Let's Be Clear of the Stakes":
1:25 PM "It’s either complete absolution or utter destruction now for Mitt Romney’s candidacy."

1:33 PM "I have the champagne chilling again."


1:51 PM "If on the other hand, it was ordered by an *official* of the Romney campaign, then this indeed may be the week history will assess as the death of the Romney campaign."

2:02 PM "Time to check temp on the champagne, while Justin searches for comfort food…"

2:05 PM "The Mitt Romney count down clock has begun……..tick tock……"

2:19 PM "Mitt Romney will not matter in a couple of hours anyway so dont worry people"
Sunday night, I received an email from a fellow blogger, generously tipping me off about a story that could potentially knock Romney off his game in a big way. The story, set to publish in a major news rag Monday morning: a top Romney adviser would be implicated as the source of anti-Mormon "push-poll" surveys conducted across Iowa and New Hampshire.

I was stunned. I had followed the story (and even been part of it) for about three days and after interviewing individuals at the alleged firm that conducted the survey. I was convinced that the Romney campaign was not behind it.

I set my plate overnight to devour a whole flock of crow when the story hit.

The article, written by Mark Hemingway and published at NRO, gathered all the details of the story in one narrative and added to the mix, supposed evidence from an online bulletin board linking Alex Gage and his firm TargetPoint Consulting to the data collection firm, Western Wats, implicated as the company that conducted the survey.

As I read over the piece the blood went rushing back into my face. This was nothing! The evidence was scant, the connection pithy and the rest of the article --- yawn, I probably wrote half of it myself! The meme that "bulletin-board-post-proves-Romney-push-polled-own-campaign" was weak at best.

But still, Gage & Co. had to answer the charges. Conversations with top bloggers Monday morning indicated that a press release was forthcoming from TargetPoint. I sat on pins and needles the entire day with a constant finger on the refresh button.

Then it came. How do you spell relief?

Just to prove it... here's a snapshot of the two posts I had ready to go. Even with my "high status" with the campaign (joke) I had no insight into what was going to happen:

My head was on the chopping block in the blogosphere being one of the primary debunkers of the "Mitt-did-it!" conspiracy theories. I braced myself for the worst. If the Romney campaign were truly the source of the push poll... the club fashioned by opponents is too big to imagine.

I'm also a bit perturbed. How did NRO not wait 4 hours to talk to TargetPoint? How does RedState have the gaul to publish what they did requisite to the thin evidence from Hemingway? And don't get me started on Mark's refusal to let it go.

To be fair, I think Hemingway got caught up in a a whirlwind of Mormon connections. You see, he thinks the force of his evidence are the coincidences taken as a whole. The Lindorfs, Amanda, the contributors, based in Utah...

Among Mormons there's an inside joke that the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon become the 4 degrees of Mormonism. To wit: you can find any other Mormon within a breadth of 4 LDS members.

For example, how many ways do you know the candidate you support? How many degrees of separation does it take you to get to John McCain or Rudy? Personally, I know Mitt from when I was an infant (my Mom and Ann were in the same maternity ward when I was born in Boston). I also know him through a long time family friend. And my best friend's uncle is married to someone who works closely with Romney. Is there some super secret community of Mormons that plans to take over the country by getting Romney elected? No. Its just that Mormons marry other Mormons, marry early in life, and have lots of kids. (Did I mention I'm 35 with 3 kids, and my oldest is 12?)
  • The fact that the firm was in Utah? Moot. Utah perfected the art of the call center from innovators like WordPerfect and the large group of health drinks in the state. (Also, apparently, Utahns have neutral accents which helps in cold calls).
  • The fact that the firm was owned by the Lindorfs? Moot. They divested of their assets years ago.
  • The fact that the firm employs people who donated to Mitt? Moot. A LOT of people have donated to Mitt in Utah. (In fact, I'm surprised that out of 1500 employees only a handful have donated to the campaign).
  • The fact that TippingPoint and other "affiliated" Romney campaigns have used Western Wats? Moot. Its the single largest data collection firm in the world. They handle all sorts of 3rd party work and all sorts of campaigns using them including firms employed by Romney competitors. They handle over 7000 projects every year.
  • The Mormon factor? Do I really have to answer this? The Mormon cabal is not out to submarine the other candidates by conducting a push poll against their chosen one. And he isn't even their chosen one! I can't tell you how many Mormon Ron Paul supporters there are.... every other day I get some note berating me for not supporting the "true" constitution guy in the race. (Mormons are big on the Constitution)
The relief I feel is only tempered by the fact that we still don't know WHO did it. (More on this later).

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Hemmingway's links between the Romney Campaign and the Western WATS calls are spurious at best. It would be like saying that Romney is responsible for a rival campaign's press releases because they were created in WordPerfect, which was founded by Mormons.


While I applaud your efforts to defend Romney, I think for now the best strategy is to just ignore the issue until the truth comes out. The theory of "Romney-Did-It" is getting entirely too much press and attention, and the Romney foes, including the real perpetrators, are getting a good laugh at us Romney supporters. Just turn the other cheek and forget about it until some actual truth comes out.

Better yet, learn from Giuliani's ability to deflect attention from a sticky subject to something else entirely. It has been mentioned over at race42008 that attacks on Giuliani never stick, but attacks on Romney do. I believe that's because as Mormons we feel a huge sense of injustice and the need to defend our man when unjustly accused. Unfortunately, this only has the effect of encouraging the opposition. They love the rise they get out of us Mitt supporters. It must be delightfully fun for them. Our best strategy should be to move on and focus on the positive. To that end, here is nothing too important, but it does point out that Mitt is right that there are better ways than destroying embryos to get the benefits of embryonic cell research:

By Anonymous Todd Richmond, at November 20, 2007 at 10:07 AM  

Good work. You point out a fact that many of us Romney supporters know well. This campaign is very precariously perched even though our candidate is possibly the strongest candidate that has come along in a long time. That is the nature of the withering heat of media spotlight (as well as enemies like the Clinton's and Huckabees--I think Giuliani is mostly benign).

We have no illusions that God will rapture our candidate to the Presidency (like those of Huckabee) or that decades of history will suddenly become irrelevant (as do those supporters of Giuliani).

The more attention that is turned on Romney, however, the more he shines in the disinfecting light of media/public attention. . . as long as people refute these libelous, sometimes bigoted, and spurious attacks.

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