Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Romney Loves America, But Amercia Just Wants to Be Friends

I am, by nature, a cautiously optimistic man. It takes more than a bloody nose to make me think I'm going to lose a fight.

(Although, to be fair, given my preternatural agility and Gaius Baltar-like sense of self-preservation, I probably would win the fight by running away.)

So when the former Governor of Massachusetts takes silver medals in Iowa and New Hampshire, I remained cautiously optimistic that he, as the best qualified person to lead the country, would overcome those two road bumps and still end up, y'know, leading the country.

He carried the torch for us; I still carry a torch for him.
(In a non-gay way, natch.)


Alas. Alas. Alas.

The situation does not look as bright for Mitt Romney in the post-Florida, pre-Super Tuesday world as it had if the Florida Republican Party were populated by fewer veterans and, say, more LDS venture capitalists.

Now, this is not the end for Gov. Romney. It might be the beginning of the end, but it is certainly not the end. I vividly recall in the 1992 campaign when, after a few losses, Bill Clinton declared that his campaign's situation was no "Kobayashi Maru" and that he still expected to win. (I don't know if Clinton actually said it, but I vaguely recall that he might have done. If any of you find hard evidence of such a speech on the Interweb, send me a link.)

I hope that Mitt Romney will soon be able to enjoy a victory similar to the one Bill Clinton predicted for himself in 1992. Despite the ravenous frenzy over Florida, let's remember the Chuck-a-rama-like buffet of delegates that candidates can gorge themselves on next Tuesday.




Certainly, McCain has an edge going into the fiesta of 21 state primaries, but Romney has a better national organization, more money, and a better haircut. I choose to remain cautiously optimistic.

However, if recent polling data is to be trusted, Mitt Romney could be conceding on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, despite the faith-in-every-footstep political hoop-dreams of the BYU College Republicans.

Next week, we might learn that, no matter how much Mitt Romney loves America, America might want to be just friends.

A situation we've all been in, to one extent or another, mate. But also one that totally, totally sucks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ouch

OK. The networks just called Florida for McCain...so, uh, disregard the Sun(shine State) is Rising post.

...

Hey, but Utah's next week!!!

The Sun(shine State) Is Rising

You remember that scene at the end of "Two Towers" when Gimli says, all full of hope and optimism, "The sun is rising."



(Sorry, couldn't find video on YouTube so we have to settle for a still.)

I imagine, wherever that lovable dwarf is tomorrow morning, he'll be saying to the Romney campaign, "The Sun(shine State) is rising."

Go Team MITT!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Florida Dreaming, on Such a Winter's Day

This weekend my roommate, PM, went to Florida to help campaign for Romney before Tuesday's big primary. He called last night to say he didn't want to brag that he was campaigning in 70 degree weather and staying at some place near the beach whereas my campaigning experience was in darkest Iowa with -70 degree weather.

He sent me this video of our friends, SJ and MM, who are also down in Florida. Ah, if only I were there. But tonight is the SOTU from the POTUS, so it's probably more important for me to stay here in D.C.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rapier Whit -- behind the scenes?

So a lot of you have emailed to ask me something along the following lines:

"Jared, I love Rapier Whit. But I can't help but wonder, what do your co-workers think of this?"

Excellent question. As a "Hill rat" in a thriving Capitol Hill office, obviously, the subject of politics comes up every now and again. Thankfully, my coworkers and superiors have been supportive, nay, encouraging, of my random, vaguely Romney-related blogging. I think I helped win Rapier Whit some street cred when, whilst in Iowa, I was able to get links from Utah Policy Daily, the premiere website for Utah news junkies. (And who among us, frankly, isn't such an junkie?)

Anyway.

Several co-workers have commented on my need to explain the blog name. When I told one friend in the office about the blog, she scolded, "Rape your wit? Jared!"

...

But I'm reasonably optimistic she was just teasing me.

The term "Rapier Whit" is a reference to the fencing sword of the same name, and then a clever, albeit obvious, play on my last name. ("Whitley" = "Witty"; "Whit = "Wit")

Inigo Montoya: You are using Bonetti's Defense against me, ah?
Man in Black : I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.



One co-worker today told me he thought my writing was more like "squeegee whit" than "rapier whit." I guess he figures a squeegee, while technically bladed, is not particularly sharp. Ha ha. This is the same co-worker, however, is the one with whom I have - perhaps unwisely - made a wager that Mitt Romney will beat John McCain in McCain's home state of Arizona. So he might be entitled to denigrate my mental powers.

MLK Day in the Luray

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

I have not updated said blog for a while. It saddens me. This last weekend, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, I had planned on spending my three-day weekend in South Carolina to campaign for Mitt. But that would have been, like, a 12 hour bus ride one way and that seemed like a lot of effort for very little pay-off, especially since the primary was on Saturday, so having another two days to spend there would have been reasonably moot.

Instead I went to the Luray Caverns with some friends of mine. I supported Gov. Romney's bid by visiting the largest caves in the commonwealth of Virginia.

This is a picture of a positively breath-taking section of the cave interior. There's this pool of water, clear as glass, a veritable Mirrormere, that reflects the image of the stalactites. The picture does not do it justice, alas.

This is yours truly toward the end of the cave experience.

Would my MLKJ Day have been better spent elsewhere, in the service of Mitt? Perhaps, but in another, more accurate way, I think I can help Mitt better by maintaining a well-recreated persona and an extremely casual blog.

Moreover, on the way there, my friend Maria made us repeatedly listen to this delightful piece of Latin invasion music. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wolverine State: "I was born ready"

A few years ago, I decided to memorize all the nicknames for these United States. Allow me to say that this small act has reaped huge benefits. Example of a conversation that may or may not have happened with one of my fellow Hill staffers:

Stranger: "Hi, I'm from Tennessee."
Me: "Oh, the Volunteer State?"
S: "Yes! How did you know that?"
M: "Well, Tennessee sent more volunteers for the Revolutionary War than anywhere else, right?"
S: "Actually, I think it was the War of 1812, but I'm impressed you knew that!"

That being said, I knew instantly when Mitt Romney won the state of Michigan yesterday that he had conquered in the Wolverine State. It was so nicknamed because of a booming trade in wolverine hunting and trapping in the early 19th Century. (If I'm wrong, tell me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan.)


So as far as I can tell, as the winner of the Wolverine State, Mitt Romney is just as cool as X-Men super-star, Wolverine.


As a youth, reading X-Men comic books, I vividly recall Wolverine's hard-boiled catch-phrases like, "I was born ready."

I think when it comes to Presidential politics, someone like Mitt Romney was "born ready."

...

Or, if he wasn't, at least his extensive resume qualifies him for the job. Still. That wouldn't sound particularly tough in a comic book:

Storm: "Wolverine, are you ready?"
Wolverine: "I was born ready!"

vs.

Storm: "Wolverine, are you ready?"
Wolverine: "My extensive resume qualifies me for the job."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Like a Phoenix out of Arizona...

While reading this article today in the Wall Street Journal, the thought came to me, "John McCain has risen like a Phoenix out of Arizona!"

I thought it was clever. So did my roommate. I didn't have the heart to tell him I got the line from this episode of "Seinfeld" from 10 years ago.

Still. My administration maintains its policy that this was clever.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Silver Medal

My first exposure to the phenomenon of the Iowa caucus was when, as a youth, I read about Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin's quixotic presidential campaign in the comic strip Bloom County. Last night I had my chance to sample said caucuses first hand as I attended one in Urbandale, Iowa.





The precinct captains prepared the church where the Iowans caucused for 150 voters, but more than 200 people came. One of the parishioners joked, "If only we could get this many on Sunday."

After saying the Pledge of Allegiance (remember, it's a Republican caucus), individuals rose to pitch the case for their respective candidates. For Mitt Romney, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa rose to voice her support.

"Mitt Romney was the only conservative I've seen with the guts to step onto the [notoriously liberal] University of Iowa," she said. "When I heard him speak, I knew he was presidential material."

Romney won the Urbandale 4 precinct, which was a fun thrill for the campaign volunteers who attended to watch. However, the news on the radio as we drove to the Romney "victory" party told a different tale.





Alas it appeared that the Evangelical vote in Iowa favored a former Baptist minister over an Olympic hero/financial genius. The attitude at the Romney after-party was optimistic, however, as Mitt told us, "Well, we got the silver medal!" and noted that he still planned to win the gold in the final heat. (As chance would have it, there are - in fact - 49 more heats. So one loss shouldn't mean too much.) A silver lining indeed.

And so my Iowa caucus 2008 experience comes to a conclusion. I'm cautiously optimistic about the primaries that still lie ahead of Mitt Romney. Frankly, my main disappointed was that my illness this week curtailed any efforts I might have had at chatting up any of the young ladies from Romney's organization who were in Des Moines with me this week.

...

For their part, however, the young ladies were probably OK with that. :)

...This call paid for by Romney for President

One of the beauties of campaigns, I am learning, is the atmosphere of togetherness among volunteers. It's the kind of unity you find in combat units or major league sports teams. And an easy way to make them all cheer is the phrase, "...the next President of the United States of America!" Works every time.




Today we had the pleasure of a visit from Josh Romney, one of Mitt's and Ann's sons, who visited each of Iowa's 99 counties this last year. That's quite a herculean feat methinks.



A lot of people weren't answering phone calls today, so we just had to leave messages. I have finished so many phone calls this week with, "This call paid for by Romney for President" that I need to be careful I don't start finishing normal conversations with it. It makes sense that, with about a dozen people vying for POTUS, Iowans might not be so eager to answer their phones today.

Just a few hours until go time...

Vote for Mitt song

This delightful family from Ohio came in with this "Vote for Mitt" song they'd written. They make a magnificent hextet, and they blending when they harmonize at the end is splendid.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

All Caucus Eve


While technically every nanosecond of time becomes a moment of history as soon as it elapses, there are certain times that feel, for lack of a better phrase, more historic than others. Surely the eve of the Iowa caucus in a primary season which is wide open qualifies as such a time.

Tonight Mitt spoke to his supports on this All Caucus Eve here in Des Moines.

















(
Again, sorry I didn't bring my real camera today. I promise to tomorrow.)

Mitt was introduced tonight by Olympic gold medal-winning speed skater Dan Jansen, who told us he knew that the 2002 Olympics would be successful as soon as he met Mitt. For himself, the former SLOC President expressed considerable modesty about his Olympic legacy. He asked the crowd, "Did I turn around the Olympics singlehandedly? No! Of course I didn't," but he explained that he knew how to bring together and organize the people who turned the Games around.

Romney likewise touted his success in the private sector - 25 years as a world-class (my term) financier and manager - as one of the attributes that makes him most qualified to lead the country. He also shared a tender moment from his time as governor when he was asked to meet a Massachusetts soldier at the airport who was returning home from Iraq -- but not as a passenger, in a coffin. Romney talked about his family and introduced all of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law to the crowd. He shared his father's rags to riches story. He told us that, contrary to what some $400 haircut candidates says, there aren't two Americas, there's one America: Southern values are the same as Yankee values, which are the same as Midwest values, and so forth -- values like hard work, faith, commitment to family, and love of this country.

He finished by telling the crowd, "I'm asking for your help and your hands and your vote." Then he joked, "And if you can, vote multiple times."

F"Ann"tastic visits

So I woke up today feeling reasonably ill. I don't know if it's the cold weather, the hard work, or the lingering contagion of Olympic Fever that seems to trail Mitt, but I am not feeling terrific. On any other day I would have stayed in bed. But I flew out here at my own expense and I wanted to make sure Team Mitt got my money's worth out of me. So I manned up, made a run to Walgreens with my host family, and came in.

Today was mainly a frenzy of data entry relating to precinct information across Iowa's 99 counties. We also had some visits from some VIPs. Former Senator Jim Talent (of Missouri), who said that Romney could dictate the course of U.S. politics for the next 20 or 30 years the way Reagan has done...

















And the future First Lady of the United States of America (or FLUSA), Anny Romney herself...

















Mrs. Romney is, pardon the rather unimaginative pun, "Ann"tastic. She told us she hoped that she could be as good a friend to us as we have been to her family. She was enthusiastic and kind and spoke personally to everyone here at the campaign HQ who wanted to speak with her.

However, regrettably, I didn't bring my camera today as - feeling under the weather as I have done - I didn't make a priority of bringing it. So you'll have to content yourself with these so-so pics from my cell phone. Still, quite exciting this computer magic.

WTOP!

So yesterday a reporter from WTOP recorded me as I was making phone calls for Mitt. Apparently it was aired this morning. I missed it, but my roommate, Dave, called me to tell me he heard it and how awesome it was to hear me on the radio. Alas that I missed it! How I would have cherished the chance to post a link of my saying, "This phone call paid for by Romney for President."

But here's some WTOP news on Iowa if you're interested nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Phone Blitzkrieg

With the dawn of the new year, so too comes intensified efforts for capturing the Iowa caucus. Today my contribution to Gov. Romney’s campaign was calling dozens upon dozens of people in the greater Des Moines area to invite them to attend their caucus on Thursday night and vote for Mitt.








I must say that, as a people, the Iowans are remarkably patient with phone calls from Presidential campaigns. In a season such as this, these folks doubtlessly get pounded relentlessly with political phone calls. What surprises me is how cheerfully they receive said calls. Most of the people I spoke to today were good natured, eager to talk, and remarkably open to political pitches from complete strangers. It’s as though they understand the mantle that they carry as Iowans in making the first lever-pull of the Presidential season. The eyes of the nation are upon them and they don’t seem to mind the attention.









Although many have already made up their minds, many Iowans made comments such as, “I don’t know who I’m supporting. I’ll make up my mind on Thursday, but thanks for the call.” Not one person I spoke to today rose the issue of Romney’s Mormon faith, but one person told me he supported the Governor because he wasn’t a Southern Evangelical. One woman told me she was still praying who to vote for. One person told me a political speech was like a big-horned bull: a point at one end and another point at the opposite end, and nothing but bull in between. And at one point today I think someone accidentally called me “Brother Whitley,” which made me grin.

Today’s phone blitzkrieg was a fun experience. My throat is a little sore and scratchy.

At least I didn’t have to spend much time out in the icy, frozen tundra of Iowa’s bleak midwinter, but I plan to on Wednesday or Thursday. I know many went door to door to augment the campaign’s phone outreach. I didn’t go door to door, but I plan to tomorrow or Thursday. I haven’t gone door to door for a while, but much like riding the proverbial bike, one imagine the skills come right back.

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