News / Election 2012 / World
By: James Smith
Recently, Mitt Romney was campaigning in Miami. While there he stopped in at a radio station catering to Cuban refugees and mentioned an appearance later that day at a local juice shop. The DJ, obviously trying to keep the conversation somewhat interesting, then asked the Republican presidential what Cuban fruits he liked. Romney responded by saying he was “a big fan of mango, papaya, and guava” and his answer got quite a response. It seems that “papaya” is Cuban slang for a certain part of the female anatomy.
Although it wasn’t technically a gaffe, the moment was kind of embarrassing for the campaign and it reminded everyone of just how prone the candidate is to putting his foot in his mouth. It also got use thinking about just what are the biggest Mitt Romney Gaffes, so far? Here are our five favorites:
Olympics Preparedness -- Romney’s recent international swing, which took him through Israel, Poland, and the United Kingdom, gave the candidate the rare opportunity to show off his acute case of foot-in-mouth disease on the international stage. He promptly used that chance to insult British preparedness for the London Olympics, saying that “a few things were disconcerting” in what he’d seen of the lead-up to the current Olympiad. Romney, of course, was indirectly patting himself on the back for his role in turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics, but it should be unsurprising that the moment did not play well in the British press.
Dressage -- This one wasn’t really Romney’s gaffe so much as his wife’s, but it’s too good not to include. The Romneys, as by now is well-known, are a wealthy family, and one thing that that allows them to do is participate in the sport of dressage -- essentially, horse ballet. With the news that one of the family’s horses had qualified for the Olympics, the Internet exploded, pointing to this as something that showed how out-of-touch the Romneys are. The response from the Romney camp, as offered by their dressage jockey: that dressage is something that can be done on a ‘normal budgets.’ Seriously, dude? You couldn’t just say, “We’re extremely lucky” and leave it at that?
Cookiegate -- This is one of the more bizarre incidents on the list. Basically, in a chat-with-supporters moment in Pennsylvania, Romney insulted an offered plate of baked goods. When encouraged to take try something form a spread of food at a picnic table, the former Governor said "I’m not sure about these cookies." Adding: “They don’t look like you made them…they came from the local 7-Eleven…bakery or wherever.” The cookie turned out to be from a locally famous bakery, but even if they were from 7-Eleven, so what? Lots of people buy cookies from 7-Eleven. And why does he care? If he didn't want the cookies, why not politely decline and talk about the issues and his policy ideas?
Israeli Culture -- In another ill-considered moment along this foreign trip, Romney attributed the success of the Israeli economy, in contrast to their Palestinian neighbors, to differences in "culture." Not surprisingly, he was immediately blasted by Palestinian groups and the Arab-American community for his trouble, on the grounds that he was being culturally insensitive at best and blatantly ignorant worst. That was followed by some immediate and necessary backpedaling by Romney -- but the damage was done.
Retroactive Retirement -- No gaffe can be as iconic, if that is the word, as Mitt Romney’s claim that he "retroactively retired" from Bain Capital. The issue was that Romney continued to own the company after until 2002, though he had claimed to step down after 1999, when he went to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. Attempting the clarify things, one spokesman claimed that Romney had "retroactively retired" from his role in Bain after 1999. Outside of its being an absurd construction of words, it’s also a hallmark of what’s made Romney’s campaign so mistake-prone: rather than trying to say things clearly ("He still owned the company, but was occupied with other things and left its management to others") the campaign has tried to dismiss them.
[Pic via Flickr - Gage Skidmore]