While President Obama has stopped campaigning for President in order to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney has decided to pretend to stop campaigning while actually continuing to campaign and do lots of photo ops of him pretending to help the disaster relief effort.
In typical Romney fashion, he cancelled a political rally in Ohio only to show up to the rally with all his campaign team, all the campaign supporters, pro President Romney videos and banners, then do a big performance collecting tinned soup and blankets in front of all the cameras for the supposed relief effort. As the Washington Post reported:
The stop was billed as a “storm relief” event, and attendees were asked to bring non-perishable foods and other items for those affected by the storm. Long white tables to one side of the cavernous James S. Trent Arena were piled high with flashlights, batteries, diapers, toothbrushes, mini-deodorants, fleece blankets, cereal, toilet paper and canned goods.
Two large TV screens at the front of the venue bore the logo of the American Red Cross and the message: “Sandy: Support the Relief Effort. Text ’REDCROSS’ to 90999 to make a $10 donation.”
But there remained many trappings of a campaign rally, including the soundtrack and a biographical Romney video.
As Andrea Mitchell pointed out, the Red Cross, which is providing much of the disaster relief to the affected areas, states explicitly that sending tinned food and blankets is completely useless – they need very specific supplies and know exactly how to spend money donated. Said Mitchell on her show:
“We checked with the Red Cross. The Red Cross said, while they’re always grateful for donations, that this is not what they need or want. They always tell people, ‘please donate money, because we have our own packagers, wholesalers’ — they have their own distribution system.”
Rather than listening to what is actually needed, Romney has decided to do what he thinks is needed from a leader – and that is to do a lot of photo ops.
More than that, Romney point blank refused to answer reporters questions about what an appropriate federal government response should be to the disaster at the ‘relief effort’ event in Ohio. Romney was asked 14 times by journalists whether he thought FEMA should be responsible for disaster relief. Having stated last year that FEMA should basically be dismantled in favor of individual state responses to disaster, Romney declined to answer the questions, doing his tried and failed method of waiting until the dust settles to make his mind up on the issue of the day. In the face of a genuine disaster, Romney is making himself look weak and ineffective by behaving weakly and doing ineffective things. Rather than have photos of himself collecting tinned food taken, perhaps Romney could take what is left of his campaign funds and donate them to the relief effort. That would be Presidential, not political. But then Romney clearly doesn’t understand the difference.
In response to the disaster left by Hurricane Sandy, President Obama is behaving as, well, a President, whereas Mitt Romney is coming across as a flaky opportunist.
What a surprise.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.