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On Friday, Mitt Romney wanted to deliver a headline-grabbing speech that would outline his plan to help the U.S. economy grow. It was his time to shine, showing he had once again gained front-runner status in his race against Rick Santorum. Instead, all anyone seems to be able to talk about is the speech’s setting as well as Romney’s cars. It all amounted to “an unintended lesson about how poor visuals and errant words can derail a candidate’s message in this modern political news culture,” as the New York Times notes.
Delivering the speech from the 30-yard line of Ford Field, a stadium that usually holds 65,000, was clearly a bad idea. Even though there were 1,200 people there, the place looked empty. To be fair, it doesn’t seem it was Romney’s fault and was all due to a “last minute security change,” according to Talking Points Memo. When a smaller venue sold out, the Detroit Economic Club, which organized the event, moved to hold the speech at the stadium’s atrium. That would have made for better optics because the empty seats wouldn’t have been visible. But security concerns forced organizers to move the speech to the field.
None of that matters to voters, of course. Commentators also ended up talking a lot about the stadium because Romney didn’t really say anything new. Most of the speech’s content had been leaked for days. Yet Romney did make a revelation when he for some reason found it necessary to point out that he has four cars, including his wife’s “couple of Cadillacs.” Ann Romney owns two Cadillac SRX vehicles (one in their San Diego beach house and another in Massachusetts). The car is “Detroit-designed but assembled in Mexico,” points out the Washington Post.
Mentioning that his wife owns two cars that have a starting price of around $35,000 “was beyond tone-deaf,” writes the Atlantic’s Molly Ball. It seemed to be yet another reminder that Romney is out of touch with regular people. Romney also once again proved he has “a real knack for stepping in it right when the campaign momentum had started to turn in his direction,” notes Ball.
At least before the speech, Romney had regained a lead in the Michigan polls, with a Rasmussen Reports poll giving the former Massachusetts governor a six-point lead in the state, 40 percent to 34 percent. Meanwhile, Mitchell Research/Rosetta Stone released a poll showing Romney with a three-point lead. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver is projecting Romney will win by around four points in Michigan.
Romney better hope Silver is right. Losing Michigan “would strip the last of the varnish off the image of Mitt Romney as the inevitable GOP presidential nominee,” notes the Associated Press.