By Jerry Zandstra Posted in Archived — Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Mitt Romney’s support has dropped in half in the most recent USA Today Gallup Poll released this morning. Two weeks ago he was at 8%. Now he is at just 3% - the same as Sam Brownback (3%) and far behind Rudy Giuliani (31%), John McCain (22%), Fred Thompson (12%), and New Gingrich (8%).
Why the sudden drop over the past few weeks?
The combination of puffing on Gov. Romney’s part and dwindling support among Republican leaders who are learning of his social liberalism may have a serious effect on both the integrity of the Romney campaign and its potential for success. Fights with conservatives over the fact that Romney forced judges to recognize gay marriage in Massachusetts is not helping.
“Puffing” is a common term used in marketing and economics and usually means that a company is overstating its case. In some instances, it is as mundane as a coffee shop claiming it has the “world’s best coffee” (see the film “Elf” if a visual is needed). Other times, puffery is more serious and borders on false advertising.
Puffing in presidential campaigns is on the more serious side. While endorsements are not the only gauge of health in a campaign, they do indicate something about both the breadth and depth of support for a particular candidate.
Former Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign appears to be involved in a serious case of puffery. Claiming endorsements that are not real calls into question the integrity of the campaign and, ultimately, the candidate.
On March 5, Gov. Romney’s campaign put out an impressive list of Michigan GOP county chairs, state committee members, and congressional district chairs who joined his team “as part of the Romney for President Michigan Grassroots Steering Committee.” According to the press release, “They are ready to carry our message of change in Washington to the voters and organize a strong, efficient effort for turning out support on Election Day.”
The problem is that some of these “supporters” are not quite committed to carrying the message.
In recent weeks, Romney’s puffery has come to light. Some of his support is softer than Romney’s camp claims. Rep. Brian Palmer says he is backing Romney “at this point.” Macomb GOP Chair Jim Carabelli is listed but maintains that he is neutral and is “dating a lot of people right now” and has not pledged his loyalty to Romney.
Others are flat out claiming they did not give permission to be included in anyone’s list of endorsements. Jack Waldvogel, another county chair, states “I did not authorize them to use my name in an endorsement.” Joel Westrom, also a chairman, is stronger in his statement: “My name should not have been listed…I’m neutral in the Presidential race.”
The problem with puffery is that no one fully knows how deep it goes or where the puffing ends and the truth begins.
It is also possible that some on the list of endorsers have simply changed their minds because of recent revelations about Gov. Romney’s recent support for limiting Second Amendment rights, support for abortion on demand, and forcing judges to give out gay marriage licenses.
At first, it appeared that Gov. Romney’s support for abortion might have been dated when video first appeared from his US Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy in the mid-1990s. But then video footage from his 2002 campaign for governor became public in which his support for abortion is still adamant. Still, some pro-life voters were willing to overlook this and take his claim of a conversion at face value. That claim took a serious hit when it was revealed that in April of 2006, Gov. Romney signed into law the provision of tax-payer funded abortions in the state of Massachusetts.
Time will tell whether or not puffery and social liberalism are a lethal combination in a presidential primary. Romney clearly has demonstrated both. Partly for these reasons, I am supporting Sam Brownback and serve on his national steering committee.