Reader B.A. emailed over the weekend with a question I hadn’t heard before: “Does Mitt Romney speak French?”
I’m not sure why this never crossed by radar screen before, but as it turns out, yes, he does. Romney spent nearly three years living in France doing missionary work in the late 1960s, and he speaks fluent french. Romney’s accent is actually pretty good.
By any reasonable measure, this is, of course, completely irrelevant. There’s nothing wrong with a presidential candidate who can speak more than one language, and the idea that voters would even consider this a negative is ridiculous. But I also recall in 2004 that Republicans thought it was hilarious that John Kerry speaks French, a point some in the GOP used as a point of criticism.
Seven years later, it leads to a strange realization: the likely Republican presidential nominee is a French-speaking Mormon from Massachusetts named Willard.
Jon Chait, who has long argued Romney’s electoral demise is inevitable, appears to be reconsidering the former governor’s chances.
Romney remains wildly vulnerable. Perhaps the latest non-Romney savior Chris Christie will jump into the race. Or perhaps Perry can learn to memorize his cue cards (or take dramatic action to shore up his anti-illegal immigration bona fides). Failing that, we may see a man walk into the nomination of a party whose electorate is dying to vote against him, simply because nobody else could stand in his path without keeling over.
That sounds about right, but it’s still a conclusion I have trouble wrapping my head around.
Romney supported abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, and combating climate change. He distanced himself from Reagan, attended Planned Parenthood fundraisers, and helped create the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act. Romney was for the bank bailout before he was against it; he was for the stimulus before he was against it; and he was against the auto industry rescue before he took credit for it.
If he wins the nomination, Romney will also have less experience in public service than any major party presidential nominee in the modern political era.
And yet, given the motley crew that’s running against him for the party’s nod, Romney appears to be the party’s safest bet. That does not, however, make this any less odd.