Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Did Kevin DeWine really use Mitt Romney to embarrass Kasich?

By now you've surely heard about Mitt Romney's famous visit to Ohio yesterday. First, he visited a call center where volunteers were doing work for Issues 2 and 3, but then declined to endorse the issues. Conservatives around the country jumped on him. Then it was revealed that he actually did endorse Issue 2 over the summer. Not only did this reinforce his dreaded "flip flop" weakness, Rick Perry jumped at the opportunity to embarrass Romney by declaring he fully supported Issue 2 and stands by John Kasich.

Then, this morning, Romney came out and said that, yes, he DOES indeed support, er..."question 2", again strengthening the flip-flopper argument against him. Both conservatives and Democrats, including our old buddy ODP Chairman Chris Redfern, have had a field day with this. The entire visit was a disaster.

ORP Chairman Kevin DeWine, Mitt Romney, Ohio Governor John Kasich

But today, Michael Brendan Dougherty from Business Insider claims that Romney was set up and used by Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine.
Yesterday, our source says, state GOP chairman Dewine took Romney to an event organized by Governor Kasich — and used him to try to damage Kasich.


But GOP chairman Kevin DeWine, who did not support Kasich's gubernatorial campaign, brought Mitt Romney, displaying his political clout. But apparently no one informed Mitt Romney what the Ohio ballot initiatives were about or whether he had a position on them. When asked yesterday if he supported Issue 2, Mitt Romney punted. "I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues," Romney said. "Those are up to the people of Ohio."
"It would have been a pretty simple thing to make sure Romney knew that he was going to a phone bank where volunteers were making calls on behalf of Issue 2 and that earlier in the year he endorsed Issue 2," said one Republican with close ties to the governor.

It's not the best kept secret that Kevin DeWine and Kasich aren't close, to put it kindly. It's also known that current Secretary of State Jon Husted wants to be governor, and that DeWine is fully behind him. But if there is animosity towards Kasich, what does it gain DeWine by embarrassing him now? If he damages Kasich, he also damages the Republican party in Ohio and hurts Husted's chances in the future. Would DeWine really do that to satisfy a personal grudge of some kind?

Color me skeptical. However, this wouldn't be the first time DeWine gave Ohio conservatives reason to distrust him. We've previously discussed how DeWine orchestrated the entry of his second cousin, former Senator Mike DeWine, into the primary race for AG last year. (Not so coincidentally, Mike DeWine endorsed Romney yesterday.)

Lets assume that DeWine did not use Romney as a pawn to try to embarrass Kasich. In that case, his handling of Romney yesterday was just incompetence. Why did he take him to the call center? What was he thinking? Issue 3 is the proposed Constitutional amendment that would make mandatory participation in a health system illegal in Ohio. Health systems like...Romneycare!

Also, he clearly either,
  1. Didn't tell Romney what issues the call center was supporting, leaving Romney clearly unprepared for the eventual questions that would come.
  2. Told Romney to stay away from endorsing Issues 2 and/or 3, but then...took him to a call center supporting Issues 2 and 3 as a campaign event for Romney?
I asked this question at the very beginning of my post yesterday: "So...why did did Mitt Romney visit that call center in Cincinnati again?" Whichever of the two happened, it smacks of ineptitude.  And it led to Romney's very bad day.

But that doesn't excuse Romney, either. Does he really need to be reminded whether he previously supported Issues 2 and 3 or not? Does he really need to be told what position to take? Did he really come to Ohio and not prepare himself by finding out what possible political issues the entire state has been battling over for months? Like...oh, I don't know, ISSUE 2, for instance!?

And if he did know what Issue 2 was about, why in the world did he agree to go to a call center supporting Issue 2 if he wasn't prepared to endorse and support it!?

Ace of Spades asks similar questions.
And still further: Even assuming the general contours of the situation here are accurate, why didn't Romney take an actual position supporting Kasich anyway?

Or, if the situation was too sketchy, why not avoid the call center altogether? Why go to the call center at all if he'd been advised by Kevin DeWine to punt on issue important to the serving governor John Kasich?

If this is mostly true, Kevin DeWine should be evicted from office. This is cowardly, sneaky crap. If he's in love with the Public Employee Unions he should say so publicly instead of playing passive-aggressive games behind the scenes.
Ace is right. If Kevin DeWine or his team really set this up to damage Kasich, he absolutely needs to go. I'm still not convinced, however, and we'll probably never know for sure anyway. Whether Romney was a "pawn" or not, he probably isn't real pleased with DeWine right now.  But he also has himself to blame.

In the end, it did raise national awareness of what is going on here in Ohio with Issue 2. By getting national Republicans, including Romney, to go on record in support of Issue 2's reasonable reforms, the whole kerfuffle may end up bringing more Republicans home to the YES side. If indeed this was an attempt to damage Kasich, it may turn out to have the opposite effect.


  1. I can't believe I'm defending Kevin DeWine, but isn't this the fault of the Romney campaign and not Kevin DeWine? I just don't think Kevin DeWine would see this as a good chess move even if he wanted to do something to hurt Kasich before the election. This rumor just doesn't make any sense. I think Romney has a horrible advance team, though.

    I mean, isn't the ORP doing a ton of work for both issues? This conspiracy theory doesn't make sense and instead sounds like something the Kasich camp is pushing so they can try to remove DeWine as Chair again when Issue 2 fails.

  2. When it comes to the massive failure that is issue two, you guys are like a fat guy in a milkshake shop, you are grasping at straws. The bottom line is that the ORP failed to gauge what the general public wanted. They are paying for their arrogance right now, since issue two is going down in flames, and there isn't anything they can do about it.

  3. To put it bluntly: Kevin Dewine should be kicked out immediately, even if this is or isn't true.

    Mitt Romney does not deserve my vote. Should the public be stupid enough to nominate him after the establishment GOP has been crowning him for months... and under this stupid excuse of "most electable," I will walk out of the Republican Party forever and campaign for his defeat.

    This was just reason #13,543 why I refuse to vote for Mitt.

  4. Oh dear. Does this mean Modern and I agree on something?

    I dont believe the conspiracy thing either, but I do think he screwed up and deserves as much blame as Mitt for Tuesday's fiasco.

  5. I'm still not sure what DeWine did wrong. He's invited all the '12 GOP Presidential candidates to come to Ohio and show their support for Issues 2 & 3. How did DeWine know that when Romney accepted he'd flip flop (other than the usual risk you take with Romney.)

    We all know that Kasich wanted to replace DeWine after the 2010 elections and replace him with his friend/lobbyist/Franklin County GOP chair Doug Priesse. Kasich failed because the central committee couldn't understand why they'd replace DeWine after he just led the party back into power and had such a successful 2010 election for the party.

    If Issue 2 fails, expect Kasich's folks to try to pin the blame on DeWine, so they can try to oust him again. That's what this looks like to me. The finger pointing and political agendas behind them have already started before a single vote is counted.

  6. Even if SB5 is upheld, I still fully expect Kevin DeWine to get the ax. Someone ought to take the fall for letting this mess happen in the first place; and Kasich won't fire himself.

  7. Just wanted to comment on this crap attempt at being witty: "When it comes to the massive failure that is issue two, you guys are like a fat guy in a milkshake shop, you are grasping at straws." This metaphor makes no sense. When one is drowning and pitifully "grasping at straws," straws are the very last thing he would want. When a fat guy is at a milkshake shop, he's surrounded by exactly what he wants. The "grasping at straws" idiom indicates desperation.


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