"Pandering" is a dirty word in politics, but in truth, it's almost part of the job description. The key is to do it without calling too much attention to yourself. Whether he's been hobbled by his wealth, or just doesn't connect naturally, Mitt Romney's unsmooth panderings (too numerous to count), have shined a glaring spotlight on his inauthenticity. He just needs an advisor to tell him to be himself, not apologize for his wealth, and portray himself as the strong Washington outsider/businessman who will turn the economy around. And stick to the script. Otherwise, like we've seen, it backfires.
Speaking with reporter Ann Rubin of KSDK.com in Missouri on Tuesday, Romney ticked off a list of programs he would either eliminate or defund in order to cut the deficit. He said, "Of course you get rid of Obamacare, that's the easy one, but there are others. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
Planned Parenthood responded to the comment with a written statement by Dawn Laguens, VP for Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
"When Mitt Romney says he wants to 'get rid' of Planned Parenthood, he means getting rid of the preventive health care that three million people a year rely on for cancer screenings, birth control, and other preventive care. Mitt Romney simply can't be trusted when it comes to women's health."
The fact that President Obama's children are all girls, and Romney's are all boys, could subtly come into play from a strategic standpoint, but let's hope things don't get that bad.
Naturally, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz chimed in to offer her two cents. In a statement Tuesday, she said, "He did everything he could to pander to the far-right wing of his party with extreme and out-of-touch positions like vowing to get rid of Planned Parenthood, as he did today."
The ambiguity over the context of Romney's statement is troubling, because his famous 2005 flip-flop on abortion still has people wondering about his true feelings and intentions on the subject. If he sought Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts' endorsement during his 2002 governmental campaign, what does that mean in his current presidential campaign? That he would go further than normal in trying to shutter an institution reviled by his base? If Paul Tsongas were still running, we'd be hearing a lot of that "pander bear" phrase.