Scripps Howard News Service
It has been — what? — only nine months since the presidential campaign began with the caucuses and primaries and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is beginning, timidly, to be sure to mention the comprehensive health care plan he enacted as governor of Massachusetts.
Rather than brag about “Romneycare,” as he had every right to do, he seemed intent on flushing it down the memory hole and giving only perfunctory answers in those rare instances where the press got to question him directly.
This summer, the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action ran a nasty and somewhat misleading ad that none-too-subtly suggested Romney was responsible for the death of a woman whose husband had lost his insurance when he was laid off after a Bain Capital takeover of his steel company.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul shot back, denouncing the ad, saying if the subjects of the ad had lived in Massachusetts “under Gov. Romney’s health care plan, they would have had health care.”
To one untutored in the toxic politics of the far right, this response seems not only obvious but innocuous. But the commentators of the far right demanded Saul’s head and one blogger, according to the Boston Globe, said defense of Romney’s health care plan “could mark the day the Romney campaign died.”
You can sympathize with Romney for having to put up with this nonsense, but you can also fault him for not standing up to it.
Just before a rally in Toledo, Ohio, the candidate told NBC News: “Don’t forget — I got everybody in my state insured. One hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
There’s that word “empathy” again, a quality Romney has conspicuously lacked and never more so than in that video in which he basically dismissed almost half the country as freeloaders not worth his time.
It may be a little late in the game for Romney to begin displaying empathy and compassion, qualities that don’t come naturally to him, at least in public. But if he wants to have a chance at winning this election, he will ditch the far right and try.