The Other McCain

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‘Swarmin’ With Mormons’

Posted on | January 27, 2012 | 64 Comments

John McCain, Luis Fortuno and Mitt Romney during
rally at Lanco & Harris, Orlando, Jan. 27, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla.
If you don’t vote for Mitt, why do you hate America? That was the fundamental theme of Friday’s super-patriotic rally for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at an industrial warehouse here.

After a three-hour drive from Jacksonville, I arrived slightly late and was stunned by the size of the crowd, as evidenced by the cars parked streetside and in every parking lot near the Lanco & Harris warehouse. Four TV satellite trucks were parked near the loading dock, and as I walked up the ramp into the warehouse, some cranky geezer was onstage ranting about how he was fed up with all these darned debates.

“Nineteen of ‘em! I’m tired of the mud wrestling!” the geezer said, provoking applause from the crowd of about 500 packed into the warehouse. As I got closer to the stage, I recognized the cranky geezer as Sen. John McCain, who then said: “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!”

OK, maybe I just imagined that last quote, which didn’t show up in Maggie Haberman’s report for the Politico, but I’m sure I got the trademark cranky-geezer tone just right.

Exactly why the Romney campaign wants this elderly loser campaigning for them, I don’t know. McCain lost Florida by 200,000 votes four years ago. But there are lots of grumpy old folks in Florida who are registered Republicans, and maybe having McCain stumping for Mitt generates some sympathy or something.

Anyway, the crowd was big and enthusiastic, and I worked my way around to the other side of the stage where I saw Eric Ferhnstrom, one of Romney’s top advisers, and asked him, “Y’all got this pretty much locked up, don’t you?”

The polls show Romney pulling away here in Florida, but Ferhnstrom wouldn’t admit the obvious: Mitt’s going to win this one in a landslide. Instead, he merely agreed that “the trend is encouraging,” and said, “Mitt hasn’t won a day since he won South Carolina.”

Which is true. For the past week, Newt’s been swinging wildly, and desperation is not attractive. He’s headed for a failure of Perry-eque proportions here, and the none-too-subtle assertion that Newt’s the victim of an Establishment conspiracy — a myth that even Sarah Palin has apparently bought into — only makes it more embarrassing.

The main point of tonight’s rally was for Mitt to collect the endorsement of the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno who, in keeping with the super-patriotic theme, praised Romney for being “committed to protecting the homeland, and that includes Puerto Rico.”

It was hard to miss the implication that, if any of the other Republicans gets the nomination, Puerto Rico will be overrun by Iranian terrorists. But the subtexts of campaign rhetoric are generally lost on crowds of jazzed-up enthusiastic partisans, so Fortuno’s comment was cheered by the audience with the same fervor as they had cheered McCain’s earlier darn-these-stupid-debates comment.

Anyway, the crowd was large and as rabidly as pro-Romney as any crowd I’ve seen and they didn’t seem any more “Establishment” than any other GOP crowd you might find during this campaign.

Eventually, I found Sarah Rumpf, who had an assistant shooting video of Mitt’s speech. And then afterwards, I bumped into Dave Weigel, who was wondering what percentage of the audience might be Mormon.

“All of them,” I said. “They’re everywhere. We’re surrounded by ‘em. The place is swarmin’ with Mormons.”

Which might be about half-true. Sarah had told me that there are a lot more Mormons in Central Florida than most people suspect. Nobody has any solid statistics on how many LDS there are in the Sunshine State, but they are sufficiently numerous as to give Romney a solid “base” of core supporters, in the same way that dopehead college kids give Ron Paul a solid base, or angry middle-aged guys form the core of the Gingrich grassroots.

And that’s probably enough raw slander for one night. I’m supposed to be driving down to Naples, where Dan Collins‘s parents have a condo they’re not using. There aren’t any campaign events near Naples tomorrow, but I’ve got unlimited mileage on this rented Chevy, so what do I care? Besides, I need some rest, before I get all cranky and start grumbling about these darned debates — “You kids get off my lawn!”

– 30 –


The Mitt-maniacs were out in force.

The rock-star candidate shakes hands after his speech.

Sarah Rumpf (right) and her assistant, whose name I forgot.

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Comments

  • Multimedia Group

    I too noticed this quote and smirked.  A “conspiracy” is only one if it is kept secret. Everyone knows the establishment wants Romney. This isn’t news.

    They don’t understand why the base is gravitating toward Newt.  They see him as unreliable and a loose cannon.  I have to agree but given that Mitt is a reliable progressive, I’ll take the guy who occasionally tries to reach out to the Libs to try to prove he’s not the boogy man over the guy who will undoubtedly sell out the conservative movement and leave it in ruins.

    The jury is in on Mitt. He’s a Lib and we all know it.  The establishment supporting him at all costs, just helps solidify that fact.  The jury is out on Newt.  He governed as a Reagan conservative but has dipped his toe into statist rhetoric on occasion.

    It is very likely that Newt doesn’t particularly like being called a right-wing extremist so he has attempted to soften that image over the years.  It is true, he is a risk but it’s a small one and a risk worth taking.  

    I’m with Thomas Sowell; Romney is a HUGE gamble if you’re hoping for a conservative.

  • Sven

    But Mitt has never shown he follows the faith.

    That just doesn’t make sense.

    He served as a missionary, attended the church university, served for years as the bishop of a local congregation and as the regional leader for a 12-congregation “stake” (roughly equivalent to a diocese). He married a Mormon in an orthodox Mormon temple ceremony. He tithes 10 percent and donates more beyond that. The last time he ran for president, the most notable speech he gave was about affirming his religiosity. The Mormons who know him consider him a devote Mormon, so how in the world do you think you know that “he has never shown he follows the faith”?

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  • Sven

    If Jews actually called  Christianty a “Jewish cult,” and Christians were cool with it, that would help your argument that calling Mormons cultists is *not* an expression of religious prejudice. But you’re talking about something from your imagination, not the real world. The original meaning of the word cult was simply a religion. But it has long since become, by common usage, specifically an expression of religious prejudice. “Cult” is what you call a religion you despise. 

    But all that aside, you’re directly making the argument that the religious beliefs you impute to Romney disqualify him as a candidate. That’s anti-Mormon prejudice, and I don’t understand why you are so defensive about people calling it what it so clearly is.

  • Multimedia Group

    I too noticed this quote and smirked.  A “conspiracy” is only one if it is kept secret. Everyone knows the establishment wants Romney. This isn’t news.

    They don’t understand why the base is gravitating toward Newt.  The establishment types see him as unreliable and a loose cannon.  I have to agree but given that Mitt is a reliable progressive, I’ll take the guy who occasionally tries to reach out to the Libs to try to prove he’s not the boogy man over the guy who will undoubtedly sell out the conservative movement and leave it in ruins.

    The jury is in on Mitt. He’s a Lib and we all know it.  The establishment supporting him at all costs, just helps solidify that fact.  The jury is out on Newt.  He governed as a Reagan conservative but has dipped his toe into statist rhetoric on occasion.

    It is very likely that Newt doesn’t particularly like being called a right-wing extremist so he has attempted to soften that image over the years.  It is true, he is a risk but it’s a small one and a risk worth taking.  

    I’m with Thomas Sowell; Romney is a HUGE gamble if you’re hoping for a conservative.

  • Multimedia Group

    Supporting abortion and pushing socialized healthcare is a Mormon principle?  Don’t think so.

    Just look at the way he campaigns  Everyone knows the dirty tricks he is pulling is hurting Newt and not in a way that is “Mormon”.  Lying about Newt’s anti-Reaganism when this is absolute BS.

    If that’s Mormon behavior then I guess the Church is not what it used to be.

  • Multimedia Group

    I am revolted that people think that Mormonism is Christian. It is NOT.

    Anyone who claims that Smith’s teachings are something that Christ espoused are smoking crack.  It is the height of dishonesty to claim that Mormon teaching is Biblical or follows the orthodox doctrine of Christianity.

    Mitt’s belief system certainly doesn’t disqualify him as a candidate. Like I said, if he were a conservative, his crazy religious belief system might be just one ding against him.  But since he is a progressive and was an avowed anti-Reaganite, his beliefs (and his frequent apostasy from those beliefs) are not a concern to me. People are more likely to not vote for him because of the former, and not the latter (no pun intended).

  • Sven

    Multimedia Group said:

    pushing socialized healthcare is a Mormon principle?  Don’t think so.

    What’s the Mormon doctrine on federal healthcare policy?

  • Cube

    >Not voting for Mitt, no matter what!

    I said that about McCain too after his Gang of whatevernumberitwas pulled the rug out from under the R’s who had finally decided to stand up to the D’s on confirming judges (the nuclear option).  But when it came down to McCain or Obama, there was no question which choice was right.  It helped considerably that he picked Palin as his VP.  That decision made up for a lot of previous squishiness.

  • Sven

    Multimedia Group said:

    his beliefs (and his frequent apostasy from those beliefs) are not a concern to me.

    I don’t believe that. You started the day by complaining about Mormons supporting Romney, and you’ve spent all day bashing his beliefs and his orthodoxy. You just said Mormons’ claims to be Christian are “revolting.” You care *deeply* about Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Interesting poll. Having taken the time to go through all the particulars, it seems to me that Gingrich is gaining ground among female voters. In this poll, Romney is only about two percent ahead now (at least in this poll) where in other previous polls Romney has held a commanding double digit lead amongst females.

    Another thing I found very interesting. Gingrich voters prefer Santorum as their second choice, but oddly enough Romney voters prefer Paul of all people as their second choice, though just barely more than Gingrich.

    I’m wondering now how this poll stacks up compared to other polls.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Sorry, I posted all that as a reply to the wrong post. My apologies.

  • http://thepagantemple.blogspot.com/ ThePaganTemple

    Interesting poll. Having taken the time to go through all the
    particulars, it seems to me that Gingrich is gaining ground among female
    voters. In this poll, Romney is only about two percent ahead now (at
    least in this poll)  where in other previous polls Romney has held a
    commanding double digit lead amongst females.

    Another thing I
    found very interesting. Gingrich voters prefer Santorum as their second
    choice, but oddly enough Romney voters prefer Paul of all people as
    their second choice, though just barely more than Gingrich.

    I’m wondering now how this poll stacks up compared to other polls.

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