Romney Courts Trump’s Dollars, but Shuns His Message
Perhaps Mitt Romney thought that Donald J. Trump would tone down his conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birth ahead of Tuesday night’s joint appearance at a glam fund-raiser in Las Vegas.
If so, he was very wrong.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday ditched all of the rules of presidential surrogacy and once again eagerly embraced the discredited “birther” movement by declaring on CNBC that “there are some major questions here that the press doesn’t want to cover.”
“Nothing’s changed my mind,” Mr. Trump said, reaffirming his doubts about the president’s Hawaiian birth certificate. “I walk down the street and people are screaming, ‘Please don’t give that up.’”
In a heartbeat, Mr. Trump once again offered himself as the latest object lesson for modern presidential campaigns as they chase big dollars. Mr. Trump’s willingness to open his wallet appears to outweigh any embarrassment Mr. Romney might feel from being associated with his comments.
During a brief conversation with reporters on Monday, before Mr. Trump’s latest comments, Mr. Romney sought to compartmentalize Mr. Trump’s fund-raising prowess as separate and apart from his conspiratorial accusations.
“You know, I don’t agree with all the people who support me, and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Mr. Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”
Aides to Mr. Romney have said he does not question the president’s birth. Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior aide to the campaign, told CNN over the weekend that “Mitt Romney accepts that President Obama was born in the United States.”
But Mr. Romney has shown no willingness to distance himself from Mr. Trump, a fact Mr. Obama’s campaign has seized upon. In a Web video released Tuesday morning, the president’s campaign accuses Mr. Romney of being unwilling to stand up to “voices of extremism.”
The video notes moments from the 2008 presidential campaign when Senator John McCain of Arizona corrected extreme voices he encountered at town-hall-style meetings.
“Whey won’t Mitt Romney do the same?” the video asks as it plays snippets of Mr. Trump questioning the president’s birthplace.
Mr. Romney is by no means the first presidential candidate to have donors go dangerously off-message. Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, a Democrat, was the latest example of an Obama surrogate doing so.