The headline of a story by Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleney reads “Big G.O.P. Donors Adopt Wait-and-See 2012 Tack.” The first line reads: “The vaunted Republican network of high-dollar donors and fund-raisers, for so long a fear factor for Democrats, has been slow to commit itself to the 2012 presidential candidates, contributing to the faltering start of the party’s drive to unseat President Obama.”
Except it hasn’t, as the next line reveals: “So far, only former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has assembled a strong bench of the top Republican financiers.”
If the story had been written straight, it would read “The first primary for would-be GOP challengers to President Barack Obama, the fundraising primary, has been dominated by Mitt Romney to date, and while time remains for other candidates to build a classic donor network, signs point to Romney having the sort of cash reserve and flow that can propel his campaign deep into the spring if need be.”
Here’s the graph that the paper uses to convey a hint of the true situation:
Mr. Romney has won the support of some of the highest profile Republican bundlers. They include Mel Sembler, a Florida developer; Wayne Berman, a Washington lobbyist; and Lewis M. Eisenberg, a New York financier who said Mr. Romney was winning over donors by emphasizing that his focus would be “spurring the economy, creating jobs and tackling the deficit.”
The article speculates that the late start is hurting the GOP on the money side, but that doesn’t seem to be the case as the president’s approval rating fell steadily until the killing of bin Laden and will resume its downward march when that small bump wears off. All of the major GOP candidates are adopting a slow start strategy because the president’s failure to act on the fiscal crisis, like his “leading from behind” on Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Libya and Syria, are doing the job their campaigns don’t have to do –revealing the president as way in over his head and without any semblance of a plan on how to move the country out of its many jams.
Romney’s network will roll out on command, and his internet donor base –deeply anchored in the volunteers of his 2008 run will spring up when the launch actually occurs. MittRomney.com is up and running with a very sophisticated web presence, and Tim Pawlenty.com, NewtExplore 2012.com, RickSantorum.com and MicheleBachmann.com are all fully launched, and if Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin join the race, they too can roll out a vibrant donor infrastructure in less than a week.
So the Times not only misrepresents the very strong network Romney has in place, it glides over the early efforts of the other contenders and, crucially, how the new technology allows late comers to recover some of the ground lost quickly.
Most of the MSM is reluctant to crown Romney the front-runner though he clearly is. Most of the MSM and some GOP activists supporting marginal candidates are eager for a long, drawn out and nasty intra-party battle that exposes and deepens divisions and keeps the attention off of the president’s many failures while the president mentions bin Laden three times daily as a cure for all his political woes.
But the story of this year and next could be a dull one –an early series of triumphs for Romney after a loss in Iowa, followed by a quick coalescing of the party around the obvious need to change the country’s course.
In other words, 1980 all over again. That is what the president fears and that is what the president’s thousands of friends in the MSM will work overtime to prevent. Thus stories downplaying Romney’s strength will be the order of the day until anyone else establishes a parallel strength, at which point they too will join the target list.
It is part of the Manhattan-Beltway media elite’s strategy of protecting the guy they put in the office, regardless of his manifest incompetence. And it won’t change until after the voting in November 2012.