From The Grio — Now that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has formally declared that he’s running for president, everything he’s ever said or acted upon on every issue will be dissected, scrutinized, praised and pilloried. He’s already gotten an earful from Tea Party activists and leaders for pushing a health care reform law in Massachusetts that looks too much likePresident Obama’s, a plan they loathe. He’s gotten an earful about his Mormon religious views.And he’s gotten an earful from conservatives that say he’s too pro-abortion, too pro-same sex marriage, and is too lax on federal spending.
Now he’s going to get an earful about race. Presidential candidates try to duck and dodge it because it’s just too much of a minefield that can blow up anytime on a candidate. Romney has found that out the hard way, though, that even when he thought that he didn’t say anything racially offensive, others did. He got an earful on race in 2006 when he told an Iowa Republican group that his troubled Big Dig highway construction project was a “tar baby.” This is considered a racially offensive term. He took heat for this and quickly apologized.
He got another earful during a vacation stop in the Bahamas in 2008 when he thrust his arm around a teen girl and said “Who let the dogs out” and then woofed. This was supposed to be his riff on the popular 2000 song by the Baha Men, a Bahamian singing group, and Romney apparently was just trying to be cute and playful. This might have passed under the racial radar scope but Romney put his foot back in his mouth when he later mindlessly added in gawking at a child’s necklace “Oh, you’ve got some bling-bling here.” Romney again got an earful for this.
For the next two years, he seemed to pretty much play it close to the racial vest by not uttering a word that could be construed as having a racial tinge to it. But then he slipped. At a dinner hosted by Americans for Prosperity in April, he took a shot at President Obama telling the crowd that he was going to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around Obama’s neck. Romney’s ears ringed with howls that he had evoked an image that is the ultimate taboo when referring to a black man; the lynch rope image. Romney again backpedaled and assured that it was merely a figure of speech and there was absolutely no racial intent -open or subtle–to it.
Romney still didn’t get it. A week later, immediately after Obama released his long form birth certificate, he opened a GOP potential candidate’s forum in New Hampshire with what he considered a joke saying “there was no one more disappointed than that amiable, know-it-all windbag–“Joe Biden”.” The joke was on Romney and he was roundly accused of playing to the racist, and phony birther issue and sentiment. These loose tongued, thoughtless borderline racist quips don’t make Romney a racist. But it does touch off warning bells.