Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry drew the ire of conservatives by saying those who did not support the Lone Star State’s DREAM Act, which gave illegal immigrants instate tuition rates, did not have “a heart.” To complicate matters, it was reported that he did not directly ask for votes while addressing delegates at Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll, which he resoundingly lost to Herman Cain. He did not mingle with Republican activists in Michigan, and lost that straw vote, albeit Mitt Romney had the home field advantage and was expected to win handily. (The same is anticipated for Romney in New Hampshire.)
To change the momentum, Perry started off this week by taking aim at what critics consider Romney’s greatest weakness—an inauthentic nature.
Perry’s campaign released a web video attacking Romney for deleting a passage found in the hardcover edition of his book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, from the paperback edition. The ad uses Romney’s own words, spoken in the audio version of his book, to show how a line from the hardcover edition—about the health care law he signed as governor of Massachusetts—was later deleted from the paperback edition.
“Mitt Romney may try to edit his past, but he can’t—President Obama followed Mitt Romney’s model of RomneyCare when he designed ObamaCare,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner in a statement. “Americans are looking for a proven and authentic conservative, not someone who changes his policies based on the ‘climate.’ ”
Perry’s campaign released the following to indict Romney as someone who plays loose with the facts.
Mr. Romney bragged about RomneyCare being a national model in his book, “No Apology,” published in March 2010: “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.” Mr. Romney deleted this RomneyCare brag from the paperback version of “No Apology,” published in Febuary 2011. For a side-by-side comparison of the books, showing the deleted RomneyCare brag, see http://www.scribd.com/doc/66081535/Romney-Deletes-Romney-Care-Reference-From-Book.
In last Thursday’s Fox News debate, Mr. Romney claimed to stand by his words: “I know what I stand for. I’ve written it down. Words have meaning.” He also said: “Please don’t try and make me retreat from the words that I wrote in my book. I stand by what I wrote. I believe in what I did. And I believe that the people of this country can read my book and see exactly what it is.”
The ad can be seen here:
Romney’s camp may have given Perry’s contention more credence, according to multiple reports, by misleading reporters when the candidate met with reality television mogul and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
Reporters outside Trump Tower in New York City, according to reports, were told that Romney was running a bit late, when he was in fact meeting with Trump.
Then, Romney and an aide suddenly appeared, dodged the press and left the premises, according to reports.
This bizarre incident left many wondering whether Romney was ashamed of being seen publicly with Trump, and again it threatens to underscore claims made by his critics that he is not forthright.
“Both Gov. Romney and I very much enjoyed the meeting,” Trump said in a statement. “Many things were discussed of national and international interest. We both look forward to future meetings.”
Going forward, Romney will have to battle charges that he is a phony, just as Perry will have to go up against criticism that he is soft on immigration and views those who disagree with him on the issue as heartless.
If politics as usual prevails, the candidate who highlights and reinforces the other’s weakness more effectively in the coming weeks may well emerge as the front-runner.
In that vein, Romney’s avoiding the press after meeting with Trump could give Perry added ammunition for painting his opponent as a disingenuous politician who cannot be trusted.