The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear and Loathing in Romneyland

Posted on | February 24, 2012 | 35 Comments

Herman Cain tour bus at the American Polish Cultural Center
in Troy, Michigan, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

Shortly after I arrived at Rick Santorum’s Michigan state headquarters in Troy yesterday evening, I was talking to one of his campaign workers, Joe Cella, when a volunteer walked in and said, “Hey, Herman Cain’s doing a thing with Pete Hoekstra tonight at the Polish center. We’re going to go do a lit drop.”

(“Lit drop” = passing out leaflets, etc.)

The mention of Herman Cain’s name got my attention. I inquired when and where this event would be. The American Polish Cultural Center, 2975 East Maple Road, 7 p.m. And so my plans — to the extent that I actually ever have anything worthy of being called “plans” — were instantly changed.

Before I left my sister-in-law’s house in Johnstown, Ohio, Thursday afternoon, I’d obtained three crucial bits of information:

  1. The address of Mitt Romney’s Michigan state headquarters, 33300 Five Mile Road in Livonia.
  2. The address of Rick Santorum’s Michigan state headquarters, 700 E. Big Beaver Road in Troy.
  3. The phone number of Dennis Pedrie, a senior partner in Ali Akbar‘s political consulting firm.

Dennis lives in Michigan and I’d asked Ali to see if Dennis could help find me a sofa to crash on during my trip here. More on that later. My first objective was to reach Romney HQ, and I Tweeted my itinerary as I traveled north:

  • 3:06 p.m.: On the road to Michigan, doing 70 in a 55 mph zone in OH
  • 3:27 p.m.: Just crossed Sandusky River near Bucyrus, OH
  • 4:08 p.m.: Approaching Bowling Green OH
  • 4:27 p.m.: Hello, Toledo. Goodbye, Toledo.
  • 4:54 p.m.: Lake Erie to my right? I must be in Michigan now.

At least, I think it was Lake Erie. My knowledge of Midwestern geography is limited. You’ve seen one Great Lake, you’ve seen ’em all.

Finally, I pulled up in front of the Civic Center Office Plaza in downtown Livonia, site of Romney’s Michigan HQ and, as I was walking toward the entrance, two guys came walking out, each carrying stacks of Romney yard signs. “Is the office still open?” I asked, because it was now after 5 p.m. Yeah, they said, go on in.

The Romney office is on the second floor, and I walked right in. On the wall beside the entrance, there were a number of what looked like children’s drawings — as if a junior high school had a “Draw a Mitt Romney Campaign Poster” contest — and in the foyer was a table with pamphlets, bumper stickers, etc. Turning the corner, I beheld the phone-bank room, with six or seven volunteers working the phones.

A lady at one of the back tables spotted me and came forward to greet me. Just as I shook her hand and started to introduce myself, however, my cell phone began ringing in the pocket of my overcoat.

“Excuse me,” I said to the lady, and looked at the phone to see who was calling: Mike Rogers of Granite Grok.

“I need to take this call,” I told the Romney volunteer lady, and retreated to the foyer area to talk to Mike. He was calling from an airport, about to board a flight back to New Hampshire, and said he’d been reading my campaign-trail blogging. As I was talking to him, however, a couple of young guys came out of a back office in the Romney headquarters, and I overheard one of them mutter the phrase “Santorum blogger.”


By the time I got off the phone with Mike, one of the young Romney guys was standing there in a polite-but-serious posture. The dude looked like he might have played linebacker in high school. A brief conversation ensued, which I summarized on Twitter:

5:39 p.m.: Folks at Romney Michigan HQ recognize me, invite me to leave. Must be the hat.

The perils of notoriety. They didn’t even let me get a picture of the office. I wonder if the linebacker-looking dude would have chased off Michelle Malkin? She has also endorsed Rick Santorum and — by the way — she will be here in Michigan, along with Andrew Breitbart and all the GOP presidential candidates, for Saturday’s Americans for Prosperity forum in Troy. It’s hard to imagine Malkin getting the bum’s rush at Romney HQ, but she’s famous, whereas I am merely notorious.

So I got chased away by the Romney people because I’m a “Santorum blogger,” even though I was there to do some strictly Neutral Objective Journalism, and none of my friends at Team Mitt has ever had cause to complain of unfair treatment. Some of my best friends are Romney supporters. Eric Ferhnstrom and I have had beers together, OK? Back in August, I was hanging out with Mitt at a party in Des Moines.

Never mind: It’s serious work, trying to elect the next President of the United States, and these campaign dudes don’t get paid to take chances by doing favors for potentially hostile bloggers. 

To quote Michael Corleone, “It’s strictly business.” No hard feelings.

So I’m not going to unload a bunch of negative stuff on Romney as a means of exacting a spiteful personal revenge. Far be it from me to make a big deal about Romney’s “devastating oppo hit” tactics, or to call attention to potential campaign-law violations by Romney’s super-PAC. Not in a million years would I dream of using a Paul Krugman column against a loyal and decent Republican like Mitt Romney. And “Magic Underwear“? Not gonna go there.

Anyway, I left Livonia and headed over to Rick Santorum’s Michigan HQ in Troy, making a note on Twitter about the route:

6:16 p.m.: Exit 69: Big Beaver Road. #NotKidding

Every high-school boy in Greater Detroit has probably commented on that at least once during the past two decades, am I right? If anybody owns a beauty salon on that road that offers Brazilian waxing, you’re sitting on a public-relations gold mine. Just get Ladd Ehlinger to do your commercials. But I digress . . .

There were about the same number of people working in Santorum HQ as at Romney’s place, and the guy who seemed to be supervising the office turned out to be the friend of a friend. Joe Cella is buddies with Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times, so we hit it off pretty good. 

Did Joe share with me the inside info on the Santorum campaign’s top-secret strategy to win Michigan? No comment.

When I learned that Herman Cain was in town, I knew I had to go see him at the American Polish Cultural Center, and when I shook Mr. Cain’s hand, I said, “All these years I’ve known you, but I never knew you were Polish!” After he spoke at the Hoekstra event, he sat down for a few minutes with me and a reporter for the Detroit News, which gave me just the hook I needed for my American Spectator column:

Many pundits predict that if Mitt Romney wins Tuesday’s Republican primaries in Michigan and Arizona, the momentum will carry the former Massachusetts governor to a sweep of the Super Tuesday primaries a week later. But one veteran of the topsy-turvy 2012 campaign expressed doubts Thursday about any such prediction.
“Michigan matters,” said Herman Cain, who ended his own bid for the GOP nomination in December. “There’s no question about it — Michigan definitely matters, and Super Tuesday’s going to be critical.”
Speaking to reporters after an event in Troy, where he appeared with Republican Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, Cain considered two alternative scenarios for Super Tuesday on March 6, when nearly 200 delegates will be on the line.
“If it’s a three-way split, get ready for a long process, folks,” the Atlanta businessman said. “If one of [the candidates] gets the lion’s share of those [Super Tuesday delegates], then you could start to see some movement in terms of who might be that presumptive [GOP nominee]. But I’m not anticipating that, and here’s why: Go all the way back to Iowa. Iowa couldn’t predict New Hampshire, New Hampshire didn’t predict South Carolina, South Carolina didn’t predict Florida. Florida didn’t predict the places out west, Missouri and the others, and they’re not going to predict Michigan or Super Tuesday. The electorate is still sort of all over the place.” . . .

Please read the whole thing. Here are a few more pictures from last night’s visit to Troy:

Herman Cain talks to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News after Thursday’s event in Troy.

These plaques at the Cultural Center honor members of the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. I took a photo of this section because it honors two Atlanta sports legends of my youth, former Braves knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro (top left) and former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski (third from left, center row).

Pete Hoekstra (left) and Herman Cain take questions from the audience.

Interior of the Santorum campaign Michigan HQ.


P.S.: Almost forgot to explain what happened with my sofa-crashing arrangements. Dennis Pedrie couldn’t find anyone else in Michigan willing to take me in, so he invited me to crash at his parents’ house. The Pedries are a Christian home-schooling family with five children, of whom Dennis is the oldest. They’re extraordinarily nice people and have been wonderfully gracious hosts, but I’m afraid I might overstay my welcome, so if anyone else has a suggestion as to lodging in Michigan, I’m all ears.

Otherwise, as always, contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund are greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: I blame Da Tech Guy: Live by the fedora, die by the fedora.




35 Responses to “Fear and Loathing in Romneyland”

  1. Brian D Paasch
    February 24th, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    I assume that, if Romney becomes the GOP nominee, and if his people call on you “requesting” your support in the general election, you’ll recall the charming hospitality they extended to you in Michigan, yes?

  2. Finrod Felagund
    February 24th, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

    I think lots of Republicans will be remembering the ‘charming’ ‘hospitality’ of the Romney campaign should he become the nominee.

  3. richard mcenroe
    February 24th, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

    Most of what I know about Midwestern geography is that it’s way down there below the airplane.

    Sounds like the attitude of the Romney staff is even lower.  Someone needs to remind them about the old show biz adage, “Be kind to the people you meet on the way up, because you’ll meet them again on the way down…”

  4. Charles
    February 24th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    The big question is whether the primary will be decided in the Detroit suburbs or the small towns of rural Michigan. As far as places to bunk, you might find an open lean-to on Isle Royale.

  5. lonely conservative
    February 24th, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    I sent an email to a friend in Michigan, will let you know what he says.

  6. ThePaganTemple
    February 24th, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Unfortunately Romney has a six point lead in the polls over Santorum, according to Rasmussen. Santorum needs to call a major press conference and announce a major policy initiative, or SOMETHING. He needs to fix this thing in a way that’s going to reach out to as many people as possible at one time, in Michigan AND Arizona.

    By the way, Rand Paul has said he would be “proud” to be Romney’s VP. So I think that tells you right there what the seeming partnership between the two camps has been all about.

  7. Asian_chic
    February 24th, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    Now I’m really curious!

  8. Jack Reno
    February 24th, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Herman Cain Bus at Polish Cultural Center? That’s some sort of raaaaacist Polish joke, right?

  9. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 24th, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

    Maybe Herman just likes pierogies and dancing polkas?  

  10. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    February 24th, 2012 @ 5:40 pm
  11. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » “Must be the Hat” » Datechguy's Blog
    February 24th, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    […] HQ when that same Mike Rogers gave him a call just as he came through the door, well I’ll let Stacy tell the tale: “I need to take this call,” I told the Romney volunteer lady, and retreated to the foyer area […]

  12. Michigan: Fish Fry Friday : The Other McCain
    February 24th, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

    […] can’t fill up a room in Detroit. It’s karma, you see. Remember that the next time you give me the bum’s rush.Category: MichiganComments /*JERRY WILSON: Well, At Least We've Moved Past ThighGateDAN COLLINS: […]

  13. PhillyCon
    February 24th, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

    Check this out .. Santorum is supposed to unveil an economic 100 day plan tonight.

  14. Mme Scherzo
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

    It would be a raaaaacist Polish joke if it was a short yellow school bus.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

    Willard’s going to need all the help he can get if he gets the Nod.  That move was dumb.

  16. Tax1234
    February 24th, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

    “You’ve seen one Great Lake, you’ve seen ‘em all.” 

    East Coast snobbery (wink).

  17. Michael Swartz
    February 24th, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    Yes, it was Lake Erie to your right. And as you can see by your impromptu tour of the Detroit area it doesn’t look as bombed out as some might suggest. It would look like a Chrysler commercial if they didn’t shoot them somewhere else.

    Hope you enjoyed the trip up U.S. 23 and I-75 through my old stomping grounds. “Hello” and “goodbye” indeed.

  18. Status – Of A Sort | Daily Pundit
    February 24th, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

    […] – Of A Sort Posted on February 24, 2012 7:41 pm by Bill Quick Fear and Loathing in Romneyland : The Other McCain . As I was talking to him, however, a couple of young guys came out of a back office in the Romney […]

  19. Adjoran
    February 25th, 2012 @ 1:22 am

     If a guy showed up at my office who had talked the sort of unsubstantiated trash about me as Stacy has consistently talked about Romney, I would hope my loyal employees would not waste any manners on inviting him to leave.

    Seriously, if they didn’t know who he was before, and they probably didn’t, a minute or two reading search results would have told them everything they need to know.

    Just think of all the things Romney has been either directly accused of or strongly insinuated to be guilty of – all without the first shred of evidence beyond Stacy’s personal animus, not one – on this blog.  He needn’t hang by the phone.

  20. Adjoran
    February 25th, 2012 @ 1:30 am

     Any Republican will need all the help he can get, but why would he EVER expect help from a blog that has accused him of complicity in everything except the Kennedy Assassination?

    When you smear people with made-up crap, they tend to dislike you.

  21. MrPaulRevere
    February 25th, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    Point of order here, if I may. Obviously the blog is not impressed with Romney and is not shy about saying so. But the rhetoric has been mostly restrained and well within the normal back and forth of a primary season. Perhaps you have him confused with Dan Riehl. Relax my friend. 

  22. Nuns for Santorum : The Other McCain
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    […] does Rupert Murdoch hate nuns?”PREVIOUSLY:Feb. 24: Michigan: Fish Fry FridayFeb. 24: Fear and Loathing in RomneylandFeb. 23: New TV Ad Quotes Mitt RomneyFeb. 23: Erick Erickson, Santorum Consultant?Feb. 23: Have the […]

  23. Rich Vail
    February 25th, 2012 @ 11:58 am

    It really doesn’t pay to piss off bloggers.  They have far more influence than Pols and the MSM believe.  It really doesn’t matter who you support, as long as that doesn’t overly influence your reporting.

    I’ve been  reading you for a while, and while I basically disagree with you on Santorum, you don’t appear to let your support for the guy influence your reporting affect/bias your reporting too much.

    Personally, I don’t have any use for any of the current crop of GOP candidates.  I firmly believe that they are ALL flawed.  Honestly, I’d love to see a “brokered” convention.  That way we could dump these guys, and get some decent candidates. 

    How about Condalizza Rice/Chris Christie ticket?

  24. Did The Romney Campaign Blow It By Kicking Stacy McCain Out? : The Other McCain
    February 25th, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    […] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}by SmittyDaily Pundit linked Stacy’s “Fear and Loathing in Romneyland“, noting:And there you have one of the disadvantages of being a journo openly in the tank for […]

  25. richard mcenroe
    February 25th, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    Mitt Romney DID NOT assassinate JFK. 

    He just lent Oswald $50 during a campaign stop.  Mail-order Manllicher-Carcano carbines $12.95?  Who knew?

  26. The Camp Of The Saints
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  29. Santorum: The Fight and the Fighter : The Other McCain
    February 27th, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

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  30. SDN
    February 27th, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    Paul, Adjoran is so far in the tank for Romney he needs gills….

  31. Santorum Turns the Tables on Mitt in Michigan With Robo-Calls to Democrats : The Other McCain
    February 28th, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    […] the Michigan results is what I’d call a “moral victory,” a little revenge for the bum’s rush at Romney HQ Thursday.The downside? It might be another very long night for me, waiting at […]

  32. Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » Attn Mitt Romney: The future Ambassador to Vanuatu can’t be bought or sold! » Datechguy's Blog
    February 28th, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    […] That might explain the bums rush he got at the Romney HQ in Michigan. […]

  33. Barbara Espinosa
    February 28th, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    Mitt Romney is the only true D.C. outsider. Wouldn’t it be grand to have a politician that did’t need to make money off of his office.
    Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum began in congress earning a congressman salary and on departure from the office they held were muti-millionaires.
    Richard John “Rick” SantorumD.C. insider from 1994-2006United States Senator for Pennsylvania in 1994 and served there until losing his re-election bid in 2006. Since 2006 Santorum worked as a consultant for several K street Groups, private practice lawyer, and news contributor. Rick Santorum’s voting record. voted for the bridge to nowhere…voted to fund an indoor rain forest in IOWA, sponsored over a billion dollars in earmarks Mr. Piggy of the Senate.
    Newton Leroy “Newt” GingrichD.C. insider from 1978-1999 remained active in public policy to present..November 1978. Congressional election and pressure from Republican colleagues caused Gingrich’s resignation from the speakership on November 5, 1998, and then the House on January 3, 1999. Facts about Newt
    Dr. Ronald Ernest “Ron” PaulU.S. Representative 1997 to Present Prior January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1985 April 3, 1976 – January 3, 1977.Ron Paul has been an active writer and publisher since the late 1970s, when he created the first of several newsletters bearing his name. He has published many books, beginning with The Case for Gold (1982) and including Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom (2011), End The Fed (2009), The Revolution: A Manifesto (2008), Pillars of Prosperity (2008), and A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship (2007). Paul has been characterized as the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party movement.[3][4]

  34. EXCLUSIVE: Election Day in Hell, Michigan: Does Romney Have a Snowball’s Chance of Winning? : The Other McCain
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