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Cash on the line

Cash on the line

It’s been widely reported that Mitt Romney handed a woman some cash to help her out as he worked a rope line in South Carolina.

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I’m all in favor of helping people in need, but when a politician does it publicly during a campaign, it raises an authenticity issue.

Was it truly spontaneous or a set up?  Romney easliy could have had someone quietly help the woman out in a meaningful way, not by slipping her some bills in a manner designed to receive press coverage.

Hinterland Gazette suggests set-up:

Excuse me if I am a skeptic, but how did Mitt Romney know to give this woman money? Did she ask him for money as she waited to shake his hand? Was this a campaign stunt to show that he really cares about the little people? The woman said since she has been volunteering at Romney’s campaign office since meeting his bus last week, cleaning and doing other things, ABC News reports. So, I guess that $50 or $60 dollars he reportedly gave her was to pay for her work. Don’t be fooled people. This didn’t come from a place of compassion but a photo op.

Even if genuine, what message does it send?  Compassion, perhaps.

But the reported $50-60 cash, plus payment of an electric bill, isn’t going to change the woman’s life for long.  When a politician doles out cash in such a public manner, doesn’t it send a mixed public message?


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We are getting a tad desperate, no?


When a politician doles out cash it’s an endorsement of the welfare state and an attack on capitalism. Or at least that’s what all the pundits would have said if Gingrich had done it.

    punfundit in reply to conductor. | January 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Since Cain was forced out of the campaign for giving money to a woman, we have every reason to believe Romney will shortly follow. Right?

Kabuki theater to humanize the Stepford Candidate.

Snorkdoodle Whizbang | January 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

I tend to be suspicious of such ‘co-incidental public displays’ regardless of which politician does it. Remember Bill Clinton and the rocks that just ‘happened’ to be on the beach during the Normandy commemoration?

Could be genuine, but sure does smell of ‘optics’. I shan’t question his integrity on this one, but I certainly question the timing.

It’s “machine politics” at it’s crudest — “walking around money”

Aw,c’mon. This was obviously a spontaneous gesture, and it makes Romney even more in touch and likeable in my eyes. Look, at least the guy doled out money from his own pocket; Obama has been doling out and feeding off of the taxpayers’ cash his entire life! I would guess Obama doesn’t even carry a wallet.

The woman said that God told her to pray for Romney. Now, what Romney needs to do is dole out a few bills to Tebow.

    StrangernFiction in reply to MerryCarol. | January 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    “This was obviously a spontaneous gesture, and it makes Romney even more in touch and likeable in my eyes.”

    Which is precisely why he did it.

As long as it is Mitt’s personal cash, it is an act of charity.

Why is it, I just can’t imagine Obama doing this .. with his own money ? The Obamas tax returns indicate that until they got to the White House, their charitable donations were below average for their income; as of late, their charitable donations are average for their income.

    Snorkdoodle Whizbang in reply to Neo. | January 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    “As long as it is Mitt’s personal cash, it is an act of charity.”

    Nope… as long as it came from his heart it is an act of charity. If it just came from his wallet, then it’s ‘optics’.

First, let me say that I am not a supporter of Romney. However, I think that Romney’s action of handing out money is just gauche and nothing but schtick and I would think the same way even if it was someone whose candidacy I did support. And I just think actions like this just feed into the perception that this man is all about money and unfortunately, perception is reality to too many people.

    retire05 in reply to Liberty. | January 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    A bit ironic that this woman had been following Romney around for days, isn’t it, and one of his staff just happens to pick up her electric bill. Not to mention that obviously God told her to go volunteer at his campaign headquarters. So Romney, in a public display of kind heartedness, hands her a wad of cash from his own wallet.

    And of course, with the recent ads that have been released about Romney belonging to a faith that discriminated against blacks for so long, this woman just happens to be (tah-dah) black.

    Anyone remember the woman at an Obama campaign stop that whined how she and her son were living in her car? Well, it seems that she was given a place to live by one of Obama’s supporters, a politician in that state but it turned out that the woman owned a bunch of land in a Florida housing development that she could have sold if she needed money. And that she was a beneficiary of a NINJA loan that allowed her to purchase a house she promptly lost to foreclosure due to not making the payments.

    This was nothing more than a set-up story to make Romney appear more “human.” People need to question how he even knew who she was when there are so many people on a rope line. Is he now getting names and financial status of the people who want to meet him? I think not.

    Pandering is the word that comes to mind. And a cheap campaign shot.

      retire05 in reply to retire05. | January 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Oh, yes, now I remember; the saga of Homeless Henrietta Hughes, and son, Cory.

      She said that God told her to go see Obama in Florida. So she borrowed money and went to one of his campaign stops where she pleaded with Obama to help her since she was living in her car. Nick Thompson (Fl-R) gave her a home to live in. What an act of kindness from a selfless politician, right?

      Only Ms. Hughes was scamming the system. She had a pension (not mentioned) and owned real estate property (two undeveloped lots) in a Florida subdivion. But Ms. Hughes served her purpose. If elected, Obama would make sure that Ms. Hughes, and others like her, would not have to worry about putting gas in their tanks or paying their rent. Utopia would be here for all.

      Charity is not to be seen. It is to be done quietly and outside of the view of others. The old saying is that you can tell the character of a man by what he does when no one is looking. Romney, by introducing this woman to Nikki Haley made sure EVERYONE was looking.

It’s almost Mardi Gras … time for the royalty to toss doubloons to the peasants … ha.

Obama passed out rebate checks for votes last year … I guess this year he will continue to defund Medicare and social security, using the payroll tax cut to buy votes. Romney will have to do more than hand out a few twenties if he wants to keep up with Obama.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Midwest Rhino. | January 16, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Obama did rebates the last election I meant, not last year.

    (note to self, always use preview.)

    At least Mitt used his own money (as far as we know).
    Frankly, I’m not against “buying votes” as long as it is with their own money and not the taxpayers.

    But of course, this could lead to public financing of vote buying .. you know .. in order to level the playing field. But on second thought, they are already doing this.

DINORightMarie | January 16, 2012 at 11:53 am

I thought giving money to a woman you aren’t married to, paying her bills or helping her out, without consulting your wife, was reason for the press to go ballistic.

It was for Herman Cain, anyway.

9thDistrictNeighbor | January 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

“She was out of work and had trouble paying her bills and….” Oh wait, that was Herman Cain. Did Mrs. Romney know her husband was giving money to women who approached him for help with “month-to-month bills and expenses?” Oh wait, that was Herman Cain. “I’m a soft-hearted person when it comes to that stuff. I have helped members of my church. I have helped members of my family.” Oh wait, that was Herman Cain.

Headline: “Mitt Romney Discovers Cure for Cancer”

Reaction on LI and Conservative blogs: “Oh, he just did that as a campaign stunt!”

Headline: “Mitt Romney Jumps Into Lake to Save Drowning Infant”

Reaction on LI and other Conservative blogs: “How do we know he didn’t have the infant thrown in there in the first place??? Awfully suspicious that his ‘rescue’ occurred when cameras were around!”

Or, how about something more relevant:


“Romney Elected President in 42 State Landslide: Coattails Usher in filibuster proof Senate.”

Reaction on LI and other Conservative Blogs: “Yeah, but Newt would have won 43 states!”:

“Obamacare repealed under President Romney”

…”Well, darnit, he still supported Romneycare back in Massachusetts!”

“Unemployment drops to 4% under President Romney”

…”Newt would have it down to 3%!”

“President Romney stands strong on Syria, Iran and Egypt: New Arab Spring Blossoming; Isreal safer than it has been in 40 years.”

…”Oh so what!”

Book Title in 2040: “The Amazing Story: How Mitt Romney’s two landslides permanently destroyed American progressivism, leading to a conservative ascendency, a robust economy and a peaceful world for a generation.”

…Reaction from aging LI and other Conservative bloggers: “He just got lucky! Besides, he did all this just for his own vanity!”

Okay…how about this…

Headline: “God States Categorically that Mitt Romney is a Kind and Decent Man.”

…Reaction: “Hmmm, maybe Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett were right”

I wish it was a stunt, then this could all be blamed on some political operative who didn’t think this through, but I think it was genuine. The problem is that we can’t figure out what to make of it. I can’t say that Romney honestly believed he would change this woman’s life with $60. If he did then he is more out of touch than he seems. Maybe it was compassion. If it was compassion I am wondering why this was his gut reaction. It just seems odd.

StrangernFiction | January 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I cannot believe we are about to nominate this guy.

Years ago, I saw a much reviled city councilman give 3-4 Black children a couple of dollars and he told them to buy some ice cream. Some people saw this and were touched and others felt that it wasn’t sincere because he was conservative and not in favor of open housing laws that were before the city council.
I felt it was sincere and I was in favor of the laws he opposed.
Don’t make more of this than it is.

“Was it truly spontaneous or a set up? Romney easliy could have had someone quietly help the woman out in a meaningful way, not by slipping her some bills in a manner designed to receive press coverage.”

Shouldn’t Legal Insurrection ascertain the answer to the question first before making this into a (non)story?

I don’t see what the big deal is. I’m not a Romney guy (far, far, from it), but this seems to have been something done in the spur of the moment. I mean, if it was a put on, he’d probably have given her more money (he’s very wealthy, $50 bucks almost makes him look cheap, that is, unless its what he had in his pocket at the time- which I’m betting it was) or some more extravagant gesture, like paying several of her bills.

Look, as most of the regulars around here know, I’m Mr. Cynical when it comes to politicians. But I’m inclined to think this was on the up and up.

SoCA Conservative Mom | January 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm

There’s an English proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him today, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

By giving a small sum of cash to Ms. Williams, Romney didn’t really help her in the long term. I doubt she was looking for help to get her through the end of the week or month. Like so many Americans who are unemployed, Ms. Williams would be best served with a job and long term solutions to the economic problems in our country.

I don’t doubt Mr. Romney thought he was helping and being compassionate, however he has exposed himself to avoidable criticism. I’m sure sometime in the next few days I will be reading criticism that Romney wasn’t generous enough, after all, he is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He has an image problem already, this probably made it worse.

A politician behaving exactly as a politician. I dont think any of them have what we consider “natural” instincts so long as the cameras are around. We see this sort of thing in different ways…some might project their own values and see a guy trying to help someone out. Others project their own experiences and see something different.
Giving is a funny thing with us as a group. Some folks give with strings…an expectation.
True givers expect nothing and are content with the act for its own sake….even without a photo validating the action.

It was extremely tacky of Romney to make a public spectacle out of this.

If he had any class, he’d have approached the woman in private and done it.

This just looks like one of those stunts where Mitt Romney tries to pretend he’s a human.

For crying out loud, this is something Obama would do! Or Clinton.

How many hands has Romney shook (shaken?) this cycle? This was the only citizen who evoked in him a desire to fork over a little cash? Even if sincere and spontaneous, it can be easily spun to ‘why her?’ why just one person?’ Because of the tried-and-true, pan-political practice of optics kabuki, true spontaneity is always going to be suspect, fair or not, sort of like how so many false charges of racism! has diluted and marginalized the charge itself.

I think if you’re so moved, you whisper in an aide’s ear and the aide provides a little cash surrepticiously.

But God TOLD her to seek out Romney and no one else for help! This is God himself endorsing Romney! Now we may have TWO Messiahs to choose from in November. How lucky can we get? (Snort).

This was so transparent but what can you expect from a polymorphic chameleon like Romney? Virtue is doing the right thing when no one is looking. When everyone is looking and there is a big benefit of looking virtuous, skepticism is ALWAYS warranted. Showy virtue is the trademark of a charlatan.

Romney was just trying to one-up Obama’s $40 pizza night tax break.

I hope that I’m not the only one who appreciates the irony of some of these posts. While there are some who think it was completely staged, the consensus seems to be that Romney’s action was genuine. However, the criticism boils down to this:

1. Doing so in public is tacky and comes off as a cheap PR stunt.

2. Romney should have known this.

3. Therefore, if he really wanted to help he should have been charitable in private. That way, he would avoid appearing as if this was just a stunt.

Essentially: Romney should have been more careful and calculating in handling this matter. And yet, the primary criticism hurled at Romney is that he is TOO careful and calculating!

Ironies, ironies.

    punfundit in reply to BurkeanBadger. | January 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    The appearance of impropriety in a position of trust is no different than impropriety.

    retire05 in reply to BurkeanBadger. | January 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I understand that you can seem to find no fault with your chosen candidate, but every campaign makes mistakes, some big, some small. This was Romney’s Henrietta Hughes moment.

    If Romney wanted to help her, taking into consideration that someone from his campaign already paid her electric bill, he should have done it in private. What he did completely goes against his Mormon teachings that charity is to be done in private, and not used to benefit the charitable.

    What it shows is that Romney was willing to try to use a stunt to make him more human. It will backfire, and now the woman’s history will be dug into like Spindle Top.

    Perhaps you would explain how he knew who she was, and that she had financial problems, if not told to him by his own campaign? And while I would not call Romney “calculating”, I would call him an opportunist.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to BurkeanBadger. | January 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Please explain then why the passing out of folding cash isn’t a standard practice in every campaign at any level?

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Henry Hawkins. | January 16, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Great question, Henry. The reason candidates don’t do this as a campaign standard is because:

      1. Optics. Even if sincere and spontaneous, it always appears contrived for the cameras.

      2. You can’t give money to everyone and you will inevitably miss someone who needs it more. Your opponents will point that out.

      3. It leaves you wide open for trickery by your opposition, who can send in a local rich man or woman and then excoriate you for giving cash to a rich man or woman.

      4. Even if you convince folks it was sincere and spontaneous, it will only affect those who are already in the tank for you – all risk and no profit.

per some he was a racist for helping that woman out.

unbelievable. I am not a romney fan (will NOT vote for him) but credit where credit is due. he saw someone in trouble and helped. how can anyone fault him for that..

I’m sorry but 50 to 60 bucks from a guy who owns 3 houses, including a mansion in La Jolla? In one instance he was willing to put down 10 grands on a bet, now he can even come up with a yard. Typical moderate.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel for an issue to zing Romney. Pathetic.

Interesting. In this particular situation Romney is getting all the heat, but nobody is going after the woman. (I’m not suggesting anyone should go after her.)

A few bucks and an electric bill in return for a week or so of volunteering, office cleaning, and being a media spokesmodel. She works cheap.

Whether or not this was a spontaneous gesture by Romney (and I think it probably was) it was ill-advised. If he had wanted to help the person out he could have made sure that his aides took her name and details and paid some bills for her , or gave her some cash later, or even better, some kind of job that was better paid than the one she had. It seems almost like the landed-gentry giving alms to the poor. Coupled with his $10,000 bet and the photo of him and his partners holding cash, it just seems that he needs to stay away from any photo-ops that deal with money….period. He doesn’t need to re-enforce the Rockefeller image.