Mitt Romney will stop at nothing to score political points. Even if it means lying outright about his father.
I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.
He made a similar statement Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He said, “You can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King. My mom was a tireless crusader for civil rights.”
Right. Got it — dad marched with MLK. Even David Broder says so, and supplies some corroborative detail intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. (BMG bonus points for identifying the source of that phrase!)
As Mitt Romney recalled in his address, his father was able to remind people that he had marched with Martin Luther King Jr. (through upscale Grosse Pointe, Mich., in support of open-housing legislation).
Problem is, it’s not true. None of it. As the Phoenix’s David Bernstein reveals (see also update here) in some superb digging, George Romney never marched “with” — i.e., in the presence of, at the same place at the same time — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here’s Bernstein, who in addition to calling out Romney, calls out Broder:
[W]hile the late George W. Romney, a four-term governor of Michigan, can lay claim to a strong record on civil rights, the Phoenix can find no evidence that the senior Romney actually marched with King, nor anything in the public record suggesting that he ever claimed to do so. Nor did Mitt Romney ever previously claim that this took place, until long after his father passed away in 1995 – not even when defending accusations of the Mormon church’s discriminatory past during his 1994 Senate campaign.
Asked about the specifics of George Romney’s march with MLK, Mitt Romney’s campaign told the Phoenix that it took place in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. That jibes with the description proffered by David S. Broder in a Washington Post column written days after Mitt’s College Station speech.
Broder, in that column, references a 1967 book he co-authored on the Republican Party, which included a chapter on George Romney. It includes a one-line statement that the senior Romney “has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit.”
But that account is incorrect. King never marched in Grosse Pointe, according to the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, and had not appeared in the town at all at the time the Broder book was published. “I’m quite certain of that,” says Suzy Berschback, curator of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society. (B[ro]der was not immediately available for comment.)
Faced with the unfortunate reality that Mitt was making things up, his campaign has retreated into a hilarious Humpty-Dumptyism about what it means to “march with” someone. You see, it doesn’t mean that you were actually there. It means that, well, you participated in a march about a related topic on a different day, and maybe you thought about the guy while you were doing it.
Mitt, in other words, was “speaking figuratively, not literally.”
I am not making this up. Apparently, it’s all about what the meaning of “with” is. Can you believe that, after Bill Clinton’s debacle over the meaning of the word “is,” another political figure would try something like that?
By the way, this is not about whether Mitt Romney is (or whether his father was) a racist — as I’ve said before, I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s about being honest with the public. Romney has once again shown his total inability to do that, and he’s been caught. He does not deserve to be president.
Also, Vennochi’s column today about Mitt’s newfound penchant for tearing up on camera is pretty funny.
UPDATE: CBS has picked up the story. Apparently Romney “figuratively saw” his dad march with MLK. But the question whether dad “actually marched with” or, instead, “figuratively marched with” MLK remains unanswered by the Romney campaign. So far, Bernstein’s research showing that it never happened is the final word.
FURTHER HILARIOUS UPDATE: Here’s ace Romney spokeswanker Eric Fehrnstrom on what it means to “see” something:
Another campaign spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said today that the younger Romney was speaking “figuratively” when he said he “saw” his father march with King. Fehrnstrom offered an example to explain: “It’s like if I said ‘I can see Mike Huckabee as president.'”
ROFLMAO! A Romney spokesman talking about “seeing” Mike Huckabee as president! Look for Eric Fehrnstrom to be reassigned to the short-wave radio beat.