As far as media saturation for GOP presidential contenders goes, it's been Donald Trump and everybody else. But Mitt Romney seems to have seized upon a savvy strategy for dealing with Donald by quietly positioning himself as the adult figure among a field of oddball candidates and also-rans.
His latest move? Denounce Donald Trump's ludicrous birther claims in the most unequivocal terms possible, while keeping his campaign message focused on jobs and the economic failures of the Obama administration. Still, if Mitt is going to position himself as a proper "anti-Trump" candidate, he's got his work cut out for him.
Below we've highlighted Trump's takes on a few key issues alongside Romney's recent positioning--and then assessed (using Romney's new toothpaste-like logo for scale) how "anti-Trump" each of his stances are.
- Trump's Take: "It’s a very important issue...I’m not ashamed of having raised that issue."
- Romney's Position: "I think the citizenship test has been passed. I believe the president was born in the United States."
Anti-Trump Meter: Mitt is clearly trying to set the tone as the more serious candidate on this ridiculously overblown issue. For his acknowledgment that the president was born in the U.S., Romney gets five minty-freshes:
On Pandering To the Christian Right:
- Trump's Take: "I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book," Trump told CBN's David Brody recently. He also said "I'm a Protestant, I'm a Presbyterian. And you know I've had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion." He also has recently converted to a pro-life stance on abortion.
- Romney's Position (this time): Judging by his low-key announcement video, he seems to be emphasizing less Christian right talking points in favor more job creation talking points. A sample: "From my vantage point in business and in government, I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years."
Anti-Trump Meter: Romney hasn't tailored his campaign platform to social conservatives this time around, unlike Trump who emphasized his Protestant heritage and made an about face on abortion. Still, we're withholding judgment until Iowa campaigning gets into full swing. Two minty-freshes, because we aren't sure what Romney is planning:
On Why He's Running:
- Trump's Take: In context of talking about running as an Independent, he said he "could possibly win as an independent," and added "I’m not doing it for any other reason. I like winning."
- Romney's Position: His presumably focused-grouped message is "I believe in America. I believe in the freedom and opportunity, and the principles of our constitution, that have led us to become the greatest nation in the history of the earth - and I believe that these principles will confirm American's future as well."
Anti-Trump Meter: So maybe that's why Mitt stuck with the cheesy, but effective "believe in America" slogan--like his low-key announcement video, his message stresses the movement not his person. Four minty-freshes:
- Trump's Take: On Iraq: "I always heard that when we went into Iraq, we went in for the oil. I said, 'Eh, that sounds smart.'"
- Romney's Position: On Iraq in early 2010 from an excerpt in his "No Apology" book: "We were wrong in our assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. But in every case throughout modern history in which America has exercised military power, we have acted with good intention—not to colonize, not to subjugate, never to oppress."
Anti-Trump Meter: It would be pretty hard for any real candidate to be as blatantly crass as Trump is when talking about invading another country simply as a cost-benefit economic analysis. Romney knows this. Another five minty-freshes:
On Trade With China:
- Trump's Take: Most recently: "I’m all for free trade, but it’s got to be fair trade,” he said. "China has taken advantage of this country for a long time." And previously: "we're tired of being ripped off by China, we're tired of being ripped off by OPEC, we're tired off being ripped off by almost everybody that does business with us."
- Romney's Position: "We have to say that if you want to have real trade with America and our friends around the world, you need to abide by a higher standard," he said to CNBC while proposing a a global trade body that would be of a "higher-standard" than the World Trade Organization. He elaborated "you can’t do the special deals that are being done by the Chinese, that are being done to protect their economy," he said.
Anti-Trump Meter: Even though Romney says it without Trump bluster, their trade positioning rhetoric doesn't appear to be remarkably dissimilar. Two minty-freshes:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.