Sunday, August 12, 2007

How to Retract a Misstatement

Misstatements on the modern campaign trail, when everything you say is YouTubable, are inevitable. The trick is how to get past them.

Mitt Romney (again) shows how it's done: first, promptly make public audio or video of the controversial remarks, then apologize without recrimination or qualification.


Q: "How many of your five sons are currently serving in the U.S. military? And if none of them are, how do they plan to support this war on terrorism by enlisting in our U.S. military?"

A: "[O]ne of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected because they think I'd be a great president. And my son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago, and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife, and I respect that and respect all of those and the way they serve this great country."

Retraction: "I misspoke there. I didn't mean in any way to compare service in the country with my boys in any way. Service in this country is an extraordinary sacrifice being made by individuals and their families. . . . I'm very pleased and proud of my boys and the help they're doing for their dad, but it's not service to the country. It's service for me. And there's just no comparison there."

Not only does this strategy benefit Romney; it also benefits the transparency movement.

Update (8/15): Media Matters catalogs the indifference of both the MSM and blogs to Romney's offensive remark. "In the end, it took nearly 96 hours for a big-time journalist," Chris Wallace of Fox News, to confront this "pro-war Republican with no military connection or tradition."

By contrast, when the news broke about John Edwards's costly coiffure, the media jumped on it.