Where Did All the Gaffes Go?

May 8, 2012 3:37pm

It feels like it has been way too long since Mitt Romney committed one of his classic “gaffes,” those inartful comments about being rich that he seemed to blurt out daily during the primary campaign.

Nascar team owners. NFL team owners. Cadillacs. Firing people.

These all fell in line with Michael Kinsley’s definition of a true gaffe, “when a politician tells the truth.”

Is Romney due for another one soon? He has done a remarkably good job of steering clear of gaffe valley of late, although he veered near the edge at a recent rally when a woman accused President Obama of treason. Lefty bloggers and the Obama campaign chastised Romney for not sticking up for Obama.

That event might have earned Romney a G-minus on the gaffe-o-meter. Those other gaffes mentioned above are high G-plus marks. Senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s “Etch A Sketch” explanation, that’s a solid G.

Yes, that’s right, surrogates need to watch out, too. Democrats are buzzing today after a Republican National Committee official told reporters that Romney is “still deciding what his position on immigration is,” adding another piece to the puzzle that is the question of what Romney really believes and when.

Don’t worry, Republicans, Obama and his team let loose gaffes, too. Especially Joe Biden, who on Sunday endorsed gay marriage and triggered a good old-fashioned White House walk-back of his comments. Education Secretary Arne Duncan did the same thing the next day.

Obama isn’t as gaffe-prone as is his trusty vice president. But when he hits the ball, he goes deep. Think “hot mic” discussions with Dmitri Medvedev. G-plus-plus.

The president has to look out for his surrogates, too. Senior adviser David Axelrod recently warned of “an economy that continues down the road we are on, where a fewer and fewer number of people do very well, and everybody else is running faster and faster just to keep pace.”

Some, especially those on Team Obama, might argue that Romney gaffed today by taking credit for the auto industry’s recovery, even after writing an op-ed perfectly headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But we disagree. The truthfulness of a comment doesn’t determine a gaffe, but rather the degree to which the candidate wishes he could turn back time and erase the comment from history. We suspect Romney will continue to argue his point on the car bailout, whereas he won’t be waging any more $10,000 bets.

It’s only a matter of time until the next big gaffe diverts the campaign trains from their core messaging. But in the meantime, congratulations to both candidates for an impressive gaffe-less streak.

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