Mitt Romney's Martin Luther King problem: Will the candidate's MLK tall tales come back to haunt him?
Mitt Romney has come under scrutiny lately for repeatedly claiming he helped create 100,000 to 120,000 jobs while he was a corporate buyout specialist at Bain Capital. That claim appears be false upon closer inspection, if not intentionally misleading. A recent story by the New York Times found that Romney’s figure doesn’t take into account the number of jobs that he helped to eliminate. That number far exceeds the ones he “created.”
The job creation numbers touted by Romney are just the latest example of the candidate’s propensity to sometimes exaggerate his record of accomplishment along the campaign trail. Infamously back in 2008, when running for the GOP nomination, Romney insisted that he and/or his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, marched shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Romney said in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald, “My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit.” It’s a claim that he continued to make over the years, most notably during a 2007 interview on Meet the Press with the late Tim Russert.
He said, “You can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at our lives. My dad marched with Martin Luther King. My mom was a tireless crusader for civil rights.” A few days after the appearance, The Boston Phoenix reported that they could not find any record of a march that featured both King and Romney.
Then there was Romney’s hunting ‘experience’. When speaking on gun rights in April of 2007, he declared, “I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life.” A few days later he backpedaled. “I’m not a big-game hunter,” he said. “I’ve made that very clear. I’ve always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. And I began when I was 15 or so and have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.”
Romney has had other occasions of “misspeaking” in his many runs for office, including wrongfully saying that he received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in 2002. These incidents could be indicative of a trend of misrepresentation from Romney, a trend that goes beyond typical political spin.
If Romney can’t escape the perception that he’s disingenuous or even unprincipled it could seriously damage the likely GOP nominee in the general election. And with YouTube, Twitter and other social media tracking his every move — it won’t be easy to get away with white lies.
Follow Donovan X. Ramsey on Twitter at @idxr