I’m with Joan Walsh on all the tsk tsking about “politicizing” the terrible storm of the last few days; what better time to have a real debate about how best to respond to natural disasters? But if you’re going to try to make it about politics, at least don’t do it in such a transparently ridiculous way that it looks like an SNL sketch. That’s what the Romney campaign did, turning an already scheduled campaign stop in Ohio into a “storm relief event” while declaring it to be entirely apolitical. But they couldn’t even pull that off without looking like the Keystone Cops:
After announcing that they were going to suspend any campaign stops “”out of sensitivity to the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy,” the Romney folks decided to turn a planned stop in Dayton into a photo op. They hastily scrubbed the site of explicitly political signage and such and asked everyone coming to the rally to bring food donations to give to the Red Cross — never mind that the Red Cross explicitly says not to donate food because distribution is almost impossible. And then this:
The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)…
Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”
The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest “Thank you.”
Yes, earnest indeed. And terribly sincere. And just to prove that they were totally not politicizing the situation, they showed that weepy-eyed video about Romney’s life from the Republican National Convention. Brilliant.