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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mitt Rebrands Campaign Rallies as 'Storm Relief Efforts'

Hurricane Sandy from NASA satellite
If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got an email from the Romney campaign this morning, you could probably boil it down to three words: "You're not helping."

In the wake of former hurricane and now current "superstorm" Sandy, Christie has been all over the media talking about what an awesome job President Obama and the federal government have been doing in dealing with the crisis. "The federal government's response has been great," Christie told Today. "I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president, personally, he has expedited the designation of New Jersey as a major disaster area," adding that "the president has been outstanding in this."

Later, he told Joe Scarborough that "the president has been all over this and deserves great credit." We already know what Mitt Romney think would be the ideal federal response to this sort of thing -- none. For Mitt, responding to natural disaster means deficit spending, so helping people is "simply immoral" in his worldview. Christie's praise of Obama does double damage to Mitt's message.

Here's Romney's idea of disaster relief:

The Hill:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan scheduled "storm relief" events Tuesday after previously canceling planned campaign rallies.

Romney will attend an event in Kettering, Ohio, Tuesday morning with race car driver Richard Petty and country music artist Randy Owen. He had previously scheduled a campaign rally at the same site with Petty, Owen, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday afternoon, but later scrapped the campaign events out of deference to those in the path of Hurricane Sandy.


The Romney campaign did not advise what the event would entail, but a Republican source indicated attendees would be asked to bring disaster relief supplies to the event, and that Romney might give brief remarks.

Let's be honest here; Romney hasn't cancelled a campaign event, he's simply rebranded it. Meanwhile, Romney running mate Paul Ryan will pose for a series of photo ops in a swing through Wisconsin, thanking campaign workers there for all the hard relief work they're doing donating cans of beans to Romney campaign offices. Ann Romney will make a similar tour of Iowa. The fact that these are both "swing states" is purely coincidental, mind you. This is all about helping the victims of Sandy or Sonya or whatever it's called.

Basically, what's going on here is that Romney's FEMA comments are coming back to haunt him and are combining with his 47% comments, creating the impression -- once again -- that Mitt Romney simply doesn't care about ordinary Americans. So he'll pick up some blankets and some ramen noodles at a campaign event and prove he cares.

But how useful is that as a national response to disaster? You're not going to help every displaced person this way -- not in a million years. And what are noodle cups and cans of Spaghetti-Os going to do to help with washed-out roads and bridges, downed power lines, or damaged schools and hospitals? Since Romney says he believes all deficit spending is "simply immoral" -- and mind you, he said that specifically in the context of disaster relief and FEMA -- then we have to assume that in Mitt's perfect America, states are on their own.

If you think I'm twisting Mitt's words, check on me. He specifically said that responsibility for disaster relief should be given "back to the states" as a step in the right direction. "And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better," he went on.

But how do you monetize disaster relief? Is it like flood insurance, where if you can afford it you're OK and if you can't you're screwed? We've seen how this sort of for-profit disaster coverage works out -- it doesn't. It doesn't at all. And Mitt makes it clear that this shouldn't be federally subsidized, so what else is there? I'm sorry, but dropping off cans at your local Romney campaign office is not a realistic response to natural disaster.

But it is a nice way to get your picture in the paper. And, in the end, isn't that really what's most important?


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