Veracity of Axelrod recounting of Romney concession call to Obama seems doubtful
By Ken K. Gourdin
Garrett Jackson, adviser to 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, disputes an account contained in the forthcoming memoir of former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod. (Hat-tip to Political Cornflakes, the Salt Lake Tribune’s political blog, which pointed me to Jackson’s dissenting account of the conversation, as reported by Mike Allen at Politico.)
For the Tribune’s political blog, see here (this and all sites last accessed February 6, 2015): http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2144060-155/news-roundup-romney-aide-obama-adviser. For Mike Allen’s story at Politico, see here: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/mitt-romney-obama-concession-call-2012-114954.html.
As Allen reports, according to Axelrod’s forthcoming memoir, Believer: My 40 Years in Politics, Obama was irritated by the telephone call he received from Romney conceding the election. In the book, Axelrod writes that Obama told him Romney congratulated the president on getting the vote out in places like Cleveland and Milwaukee. “In other words, black people,” Axelrod says an irritated Obama told him. Not so, according to Jackson. Jackson says Romney borrowed his cell phone to make the call, and that he simply congratulated the president and pledged his help.
Notwithstanding any disagreements I might have with him and with his former boss, and notwithstanding the fact that I don’t think he has the characteristics necessary to be a particularly effective spokesperson, I like and respect David Axelrod more than I do many Democrats. To me, he doesn’t seem like the kind of person I would expect to lie about something like this.
That said, the mainstream media never gave Governor Romney the benefit of any doubt and was eager to paint him in the worst light possible, particularly as compared to his opponent, President Obama, whom—although he’s now been governing ineffectively for six years (let alone having run for office successfully twice in that span)—they’ve been giving the benefit of practically every doubt and otherwise going soft on him all of this time.
Thus, either we must believe that Axelrod and Jackson were the only third parties present to hear their bosses’ respective sides of the conversation Axelrod claims took place, or we must believe that, whomever else might have been present, they chose to stay silent and to not report the conversation to the (Obama-sycophantic) media, we must believe that the media simply sat on yet another chance to paint Romney in an unflattering light all of this time until Axelrod put it in his memoir.
Any of the above options strains credulity.
I also find it hard to believe that Romney would have been surprised that blacks, of all people, turned out in large numbers to vote for Obama, or that Obama would have been irritated by somebody pointing that out. If I were Romney, that’s the single group I would most expect to support Obama. And if I were Obama, far from being irritated with someone who pointed that out (although perhaps, in the unlikely event that Axelrod’s recounting is correct, Obama simply was irritated that Romney pointed it out), I would have said, “Damn straight I got out the black vote!”
As an aside, I do wonder how many get-out-the-vote efforts might have included helpful drivers who, upon arriving to pick up someone they were transporting to a polling place, said something such as, “Good morning, Mrs. Jones! Are you ready to go cast your vote for President Obama today?” But for the fact that such a conversation didn’t occur at or near the polling place itself, it would be electioneering, which—no matter how much of an affinity one might have for a candidate, or how much dislike one might have for his opponent—is illegal.