You might not be familiar with Tara Wall, but you’ll probably be seeing her soon splashed across on the cable networks. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has just hired the Black Republican strategist and former television news reporter as its “senior communications adviser.” The hire comes at the same time the Romney campaign “has been quietly laying plans” to reach out to Black voters and “reassure independents” that he is not an extremist, reports The Washington Post.
Good luck with that. It’s highly unlikely that the re-election campaign of the nation’s first Black president—elected with more than 95 percent of the Black vote—will lose many Black voters. Romney’s recent photo-opp in recession-battered West Philadelphia proved his popularity on that front. Not only because the former Massachusetts governor’s agenda is a throwback to George W. Bush’s failed policies—but also because Romney has shown no ability to stand up to the racist “birther” conspiracies popularized by Donald Trump.
Team Romney unveiled its “quiet” push for Black voters on Tuesday, the same day their candidate hosted a fundraiser with Trump in Las Vegas. This was also the same day of the Texas Republican primary—and the date when Romney would finally secure the number of delegates needed to earn the nomination That should have been a good day for Mitt Romney … but all of that was overshadowed by Trump’s bombastic appearance that afternoon on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. It was an epic moment of must-watch television.
“[Obama] publisher said that he was born in Kenya and grew up in Indonesia,” claimed Trump. “Now he’s denying that—amazingly—but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about jobs and China.”
Of course that meant the only thing that Trump and Blitzer discussed was the fringe conspiracy around the President’s birth. “If you’d actually report where he was born and tell the truth, you’d get better ratings, because your ratings are pretty small,” taunted Trump. After five or so minutes of this rant—“A lot of people don’t believe the State of Hawaii!” yelled Trump—Blitzer eventually said, “You sound ridiculous.”
The obsessions around Obama’s birth have been officially debunked on numerous occasions. But facts never stand in the way of a conspiracy theory. Trump has been trolling around this obsession since his own short lived and failed presidential campaign in 2011.
“It shows us a lot about the type of leader that Mitt Romney would be,” ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson told EBONY. “He’ll stay silent in the face of this race-based fear-mongering from his supporters. And try to raise money from them.”
ColorOfChange launched an online action to confront Romney. “Last year, it was this pseudo celebrity and reality star making these claims trying to get attention. Now, he’s standing on the same platform with the man who could become president of the United States,” Robinson told EBONY. “Romney wants to have it both ways.”
Mitt “Multiple Choice” Romney’s failure to lead on this issue is yet another data point in a biography that is over-populated with opportunism and cowardice. The man who wants to become our commander-in-chief is afraid to confront the noisy, far-right fringe of his party. Romney appointed an openly gay foreign policy spokesperson last month. The religious right vocally opposed the appointment and a few weeks later the “spokesperson”—that was never allowed to speak to media—resigned. Remember when Romney shifted his positions on climate change twice in the same week? He’s flipped on gay rights, a woman’s right to choose—sadly the list goes on and on.
So many missed opportunities, which are possibly why Mitt’s negatives are so high, even within his own party. The Republican base knows that Romney is an opportunist—that’s why he’s “winning” the Republican nomination only because a field of even more mediocre candidates self-destructed. Romney won’t denounce Trump’s race-baiting because he doesn’t want to seem like he’s being “punk’d.” But he’s going to have to address it sooner or later—before Trump’s fringe “birther” narrative becomes the defining message of his campaign.
Rod McCullom is a multimedia journalist who has written and produced for ABC News and NBC, and whose writing has appeared in EBONY, The Advocate, Out.com and many others. Check out his award winning site Rod 2.0. Follow him on Twitter: @RodMcCullom.