Romney Doesn’t Let Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story

by Mark Wilson

We really are living in a post-truth era. Mitt Romney has been claiming for some time that President Obama will eliminate the work and job-training requirements for welfare recipients. This accusation riles up his base into a delicious froth, but it has the disadvantage of being a lie.

Of course, when a Romney campaign worker was presented with this fact; i.e., that the Romney campaign is knowingly disseminating information that is false (otherwise known as “lying”), Romney pollster Neil Newhouse didn’t mince words: “Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

While he’s calling out fact checkers for being partisan, he’s also insinuating that it doesn’t matter where the campaign tells the truth.

That proved true last night, as well. In my car, I heard Ann Romney talk about how Spartan their lives were when they first got married:

We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.

Wait a minute: Mitt Romney, who was attending Harvard Law School at the time? Mitt Romney, who went to a private prep school? Mitt Romney, whose father was a governor of Michigan and former president of American Motors? That Mitt Romney lived in a basement apartment with an ironing board as a table?

Turns out she’s told this story before:

Speaking in 1994 about how she and Mitt got by during his grad school years in Boston, when they “had no income except the stock we were chipping away at”:

Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt’s father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt’s birthday money year to year—it wasn’t much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education.

One blogger did the math and figured out that stocks that were worth a “few thousand” dollars when bought but had gone up by a factor of 16 meant that the young couple was getting by by “chipping away at” assets of $60,000 (about $377,000 today). The chiding Ann Romney has gotten for these recollections did not stop her from replaying them in the Tampa speech, in which she reminisced about how she and Mitt “got married and moved into a basement apartment,” “ate a lot of pasta and tuna” and used a door propped on blocks as their desk.

So, yeah, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.