Romney steps on his own message

Following up on an item from the weekend, there are clearly more important political stories than Mitt Romney’s many luxurious homes, but I can appreciate why this continues to generate some attention.

Mitt Romney has never claimed to be a middle-class man of the people.

But the news that he is planning to quadruple the size of his $12 million oceanfront property in the La Jolla section of San Diego, first reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday evening, came at a particularly awkward time. Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, had spent much of the previous week on the campaign trail criticizing President Obama for vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard when many Americans are still out of work.

The Union-Tribune’s Christopher Cadelago reported that Mr. Romney, who was expected to attend several fund-raisers in San Diego this weekend, recently filed an application to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot, two-story residence.

Romney made an enormous amount of money breaking up companies and laying off thousands of American workers, so it stands to reason that he’ll have the resources to purchase a luxurious residence (or in his case, several). I don’t begrudge him for doing so. Indeed, the fact that Romney is investing heavily in a home renovation project should probably be encouraged — it’s good for the economy.

But there is a political context to all of this. In effect, Romney is arguing, “The president is out of touch with the public’s needs during these difficult economic times. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go look at the plans to quadruple the size of my beach-front mansion in Southern California, before I leave for some Martha’s Vineyard fundraisers. Oh, and did you hear my joke about being unemployed?”

It’s all kind of … what’s the word … weird.

In case anyone’s curious, in addition to the $12 million oceanfront residence, Romney also has a $10 million home in New Hampshire and a townhouse in Belmont, Mass. There’s also the nearby mansion, where one of Romney’s sons lives, and where Romney was registered to vote as recently as last year.

There was also the $5 million ski-house in an exclusive area in Utah, but he sold it last year.