|Let me rephrase that.|
At a fundraising event in Wheeling, West Virginia last week, in a question-and-answer session, someone asked Boehner: “Can you make me love Mitt Romney?” What he said, as reported by CBS News, was this:
“No,” he answered, as first reported by Roll Call. “Listen, we’re just politicians. I wasn’t elected to play God. The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney.”
He added that the presumptive Republican nominee had “some friends, relatives, and fellow Mormons… some people that are going to vote for him,” but suggested that at the end of the day, Republicans would be voting against President Obama rather than for Romney.
“I’ll tell you this: 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth, and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama,” Boehner said.
The other way Boehner’s comments are accurate is that the only way Romney wins is if the general election is a referendum on Obama’s perceived handling of the economy. In a statement suggesting his hope rather than the necessary reality, Boehner said that, “This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s failed economic policies.”
So, if the GOP can convince enough people to blame Obama’s policies for the state of the economy, people may overlook Romney’s pathetic personality and he may win.
Let me, therefore, offer a new campaign meme to Romney. I suggest he now say: “Sure, you don’t like me and you never will, but the economy is in bad shape and I’d like to encourage you to take your frustrations out on the guy who has been in office for the past four years.”
One big problem for Romney, of course, is that Americans know Obama was handed a lousy economy and he has at least started to move things in the right direction, if not fast enough. More people still blame Bush than Obama, which muddies the waters a fair bit.
But, let us say the obvious. The problem with the fact that voters don’t like Mitt Romney is not simply that they don’t like him in some sort of generalized and vague way. The issue is that they don’t like him because they don’t trust him. They don’t think he relates to or cares about their problems. They don’t think he would pursue policies that would benefit vast numbers of the working and middle class.
For many Americans, their thought is going to be that they don’t like Mitt Romney because he will not address the economy in ways that benefit them. His personality, the way he comes across, is a testament to that fact. In other words, people do not separate why they dislike Mitt Romney from what he would do with the economy, and they don’t like what they see on either score.
Sometimes we fail to warm to others without just cause, and sometimes we know exactly why.
So, Mr. Boehner, you’re sort of right, but not really.
(Cross-posted at Lippmann’s Ghost.)