As we all know, news accounts never die. They remain on long after we are gone. Now it’s come back to bite Mitt Romney in the ass:
Mitt Romney acknowledged yesterday that he never saw his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. as he asserted in a nationally televised speech this month, and historical evidence shows that Michigan’s Governor George Romney and the civil rights leader never did march together.
Romney said his father had told him he had marched with King and that he had been using the word “saw” in a “figurative sense.”~~~
Susan Englander, assistant editor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, who is editing the King papers from that era, told the Globe yesterday: “I researched this question, and indeed it is untrue that George Romney marched with Martin Luther King.”
She said that when he was governor of Michigan, George Romney issued a proclamation in June 1963 in support of King’s march in Detroit, but declined to attend, saying he did not participate in political events on Sundays. A New York Times story from the time confirms Englander’s account.
A few days after that march, George Romney joined a civil rights march through the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, but King did not attend, Englander said. A report in the New York Times confirms Englander’s account of that second march, mentioning George Romney’s attendance but making no mention of King.
Romney has repeated the story of his father marching with King in some of his most prominent presidential campaign appearances, including the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno in May, his address on faith and politics Dec. 6 in Texas, and on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday, when he was questioned about the Mormon Church’s ban on full participation by black members. He said that he had cried in his car in 1978 when he heard the ban had ended, and added, “My father marched with Martin Luther King.”
Mitt Romney went a step further in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald. Talking about the Mormon Church and racial discrimination, he said: “My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.”
Yesterday, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom acknowledged that was not true. “Mitt Romney did not march with Martin Luther King,” he said in an e-mail statement to the Globe.
Yesterday I linked to the story in passing on a post about Mitt’s abortion stance. I thought it was curious, but nothing huge.
Now it’s gotten a LOT bigger. And those who were all over Fred’s silly hat story about his supposed indecision should now be all over Mitt for this brutal, surreal explanation from him about this story.
The simple fact is that he said he and his dad marched with MLK. It didn’t happen. Would you call that a lie or not?
Some are spinning this for sure. Mark Kilmer:
You see, Michigan Governor George Romney issued, in June of 1963, a
proclamation of support of MLK and his movement. Later that year,
Governor George Romney participated in a civil rights march in Detroit.
Dr. King wasn’t there, but perhaps a younger Mitt was.
Paul Mirengoff with his own surreal explanation:
It seems probable to me that Romney did not mean to say that he literally saw George Romney and Dr. King marching together. In that event, Romney likely would have said that he was with his father when he marched with King, or that he himself marched with King.~~~
Meanwhile, though, Jennifer Rubin, who criticized Mitt Romney (absurdly, I thought) for being insensitive to Jews when he kicked off his campaign at the Henry Ford museum, reports that Romney told the Boston Herald in 1978 that he and his father marched with Dr. King. The campaign admits that Mitt Romney never marched with King.
Even assuming that this 29 year-old report accurately quoted Romney, I would have thought that the statute of limitations period on misrepresenting one’s self to the press in 1978 has expired.
Oh sure, there is a statue of limitation now on lying to the press. Wha-wha-what?
Dan Riehl with a much more sane take on this story:
Falsely capitalizing on the image of a slain civil rights
leader is simply not a good thing. For a man with a privileged and
somewhat pious background, it’s even worse.
Maybe Romney can finesse it, maybe he can cop a plea and
put it behind him. But pronouncing it as either absurd or ridiculous
doesn’t quite cut it for me.
Not for me either.
We dealt with a fraud through the Clinton years. While I cannot call Mitt a fraud at this point, he sure is inching closer to that description.