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Jerry Lanson Headshot

Mitt Romney's Motto: When Smoke Doesn't Work, Try Mirrors

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It makes sense that a candidate I've dubbed The Great Chameleon should have a cool new gimmick to win the election: dupe the press.

An interesting article in The Week suggests that the Romney campaign has been pushing a false momentum story in the news media in the hope of turning it into real momentum.

It's a curious phenomenon. Nate Silver, guru of statisticians who tracks the real, rather than imagined, arc of polls wrote a column at his FiveThirtyEight blog three days ago that is headlined "In Polls, Romney's Momentum Seems to Have Stopped." As of Sunday morning, Silver was calculating the odds of Obama beating Romney at just shy of three to one today (73.6 percent to 26.4 percent).

Gamblers at In-Trade, who are putting down money, gave Romney a little more hope. But on Sunday morning, they still favored the president 63.7 percent to 36.4 percent.

Senior Atlantic Editor Robert Wright wrote a column Friday under the headline "Romney Momentum Update: Still Zilch at Best."

So what gives with these headlines, all published at the same time or after Silver analyzed emerging poll data?

-- Romney Campaign: 'We're Feeling the Momentum' (Washington Examiner, Oct. 26).

-- Romney Leaves Obama Camp on the Defensive (CBS News, Oct. 26)

-- Mittmentum is Real (Slate, Oct. 25)

I suspect it's Mitt once again selling reporters oceanfront property in Arizona. He's quite good at it. As BuzzFeed Politics noted this week, his campaign even altered a campaign photo in Nevada to make an event look more exciting than it apparently was.

Of course, if Romney pulls off this latest bit of grifting and wins -- and this is no doubt a close race -- he will bring with him a new crowd to the White House and Washington. Since this was the overriding theme of Saturday's New York Times Opinion page, let me introduce a few.

-- Gail Collins introduced readers to Richard Mourdock, the Republican Tea Party candidate for Senate from Indiana, who also is the only candidate, she writes, to be running an ad with Mitt's "facetime" endorsement. The day the ad went up, Mourdock caused a bit of a stir when he announced that a pregnancy caused by rape "is something that God intended to happen."
Romney's staff disassociated the candidate from the remarks. But it hasn't asked Mourdock to take the ad down.
-- In a column titled "The Company Romney Keeps," Charles Blow writes about his campaign co-chairman, John Sununu, who this week suggested that Republican Colin Powell, former secretary of state under George W. Bush, endorsed Barack Obama because he, like Obama, is black ... Gosh, is Sununu for Romney because he's white?
-- Finally, columnist Joe Nocera offers up a column titled "The Ties That Bind." It tells of Romney's close ties to a company called Nu Skin, which Romney defended as a sponsor of the Olympics he oversaw even though an ABC News exposé found that "a handful of attorneys general [had] accused [Nu Skin] of violating laws that are supposed to prevent pyramid schemes."

Look at it this way. Nu Skin sells anti-aging products and nutritional supplements. What better way for a chameleon to keep his spots ever-changeable?

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