Mitt Romney is the definitive Say Anything candidate, that’s for sure. First he claimed that “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.” Then he said it was figurative, not literal, that he “saw” it — doing his best impression of Bill Clinton redefining the word “is.”
In the past, Romney has also been quoted as having bragged, “My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.” But it also turns out to be nonsense. What should we make of this?
Mitt Romney never marched through Detroit with Martin Luther King, as the Romney campaign now acknowledges. Nor is it true that the GOP candidate “saw” his father, a former governor of Michigan, join King on a civil rights march, as he has been claiming on the presidential campaign trail. (He now says that “saw” was a “figure of speech.”) It is conceivable that George Romney marched with King at some point, but this is disputed.
Romney’s tall tales and the subsequent backpedalling renewed the obvious questions about Romney’s credibility and his annoying tendency to, let’s say, stretch the truth to the breaking point. Team Mitt needed the subject changed, and quick.
Then something magical happened which Romney supporters energetically used to beat down those valid criticisms and to cleverly change the subject away from Willard Romney’s self-aggrandizing lies to the late George Romney’s admirable civil rights record.
A couple of seemingly credible witnesses were conveniently rolled out, who conveyed a warm and fuzzy story about George Romney and MLK marching arm in arm in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It was a slick PR team’s dream come true!
Shirley Basore, 72, says she was sitting in the hairdresser’s chair in wealthy Grosse Pointe, Mich., back in 1963 when a rumpus started and she discovered that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and her governor, George Romney, were marching for civil rights — right past the window.
Aw, it really brings a tear to one’s eye, doesn’t it? It’s almost like Mitt was there, marching proudly with the civil rights icon. What a heroic figure he must have been! And everybody lived happily ever after. The end. Poppycock!
Too bad it turns out that the fuzziness of the eyewitness account was literal as well as figurative. The tale told was apocryphal. Worse, Team Romney knew it was false at the time, but they contemptibly decided to say nothing to correct the record.
Team Romney: See No Evil,
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
How principled. How honorable. How Romney-esque!
Two women contacted the Mitt Romney campaign this week, offering their memories of seeing Romney’s father march with Martin Luther King Jr., in Grosse Point Michigan in 1963. Campaign officials were well aware that the women were mistaken. Yet, they directed those women to tell their stories to a Politico reporter.
The motives and memories of the two women are unknown and irrelevant; the motives of the campaign, however, were obvious — to spread information they knew to be untrue, for the good of the candidate.
Here’s the actual facts about that alleged Romney-MLK march:
Then-governor George Romney did indeed march in Grosse Pointe, on Saturday, June 29, 1963, but Martin Luther King Jr. was not there; he was in New Brunswick, New Jersey, addressing the closing session of the annual New Jersey AFL-CIO labor institute at Rutgers University.
Need more? Yes, you do.
A King researcher editing his letters from that time has stated definitively that the two men never marched together; Michigan and Grosse Pointe historians have stated definitively that King was not at the 1963 Grosse Pointe march; Michigan civil-rights participants of the time have concurred; so have those who worked for George Romney at the time.
All of this evidence is important to present to the general public, but it is unnecessary for the Romney campaign — it has been clear for some time that they know perfectly well that the two men never marched together.
If this is the kind of man that Mitt Romney is, if these are the type of unprincipled charlatans that he will bring with him were he to become President, we’d all be better off if he remained in the private sector. We should not accept being lied to like this. It’s shameless and shameful. Reprehensible. Un-Presidential.
Making up lies, or at least being deliberately misleading, to associate himself with the revered slain civil rights leader, allowing misinformation to be entered into the public record for unethical personal benefit, and cynically manipulating voters through alternately saying anything and saying nothing when it suits his purpose, principles be damned… well, it’s astonishing and revolting and thoroughly unacceptable.
Mitt Romney does not deserve to become the GOP nominee for President. He’s the Republican version of Billy Jeff Clinton, a manipulative and deceptive word parser and an obfuscationist. Mitt Romney clearly doesn’t give a hang about principle and he doesn’t concern himself with the truth. He obviously only cares about himself and his unquenchable thirst for power.
Get out of my party, Mitt. You are not welcome here.
Update: Apparently I’m not alone. The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire agrees, boldly stating the obvious: Romney should not be the next president. Read the whole thing, it’s scathing!
If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats.
If you followed only his campaign for president, you’d swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you’re left to wonder if there’s anything at all at his core.
Amen! Romney’s once strong lead in NH is whithering as McCain’s numbers experience a surge. Go Senator McCain! And as for you, Mitt, just leave. Okthxbye.
Update 2: Curt at Flopping Aces isn’t buying any Mitt malarkey either.
No way can Mitt try to stifle this story by throwing a few witnesses at it when there is so much documentary evidence to prove that he, his father, and MLK never marched together.
Got that right. However, I’d just emphasize the point that George Romney had nothing to do with this, and would have nothing to be ashamed of other than his son, Willard, who’s trying to cash in on daddy’s record and take credit for principles he’s never had.
Mitt talks big, beyond his league. At least his father actually participated selflessly in something larger than himself. His shallow son, on the other hand, is full of nothing but himself. For Mitt, it’s all about the Mitt and nothing but the Mitt. Sadly, Willard has done a great disservice to his noble father’s memory. And that’s tragic.
Update 3: Fact Checker has revised it’s rating of the Romney-MLK lies upwards from 2 to 4 Pinocchios. Well done. This was a whale of a whopper. The fish has landed.
Here’s what one of the eyewitnesses trotted out by Team Romney had to say about his recollection:
“I was fifteen feet away from them [Romney and MLK],” said Robertson, 64, who attended Grosse Pointe high school. “You don’t forget that kind of thing.”
When I told Robertson that news reports placed Martin Luther King in New Jersey at the time, he replied: “Well, it was somebody who certainly looked like him.”
Uh huh. Perfect.