At Balloon Juice, Tom Levenson draws my attention to a story I missed over the weekend. Tom and others who've discussed it seem to think it's a sign of Romney's tin ear, but I think it could be a brilliant move:
...the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination has reminded the public of how much wealthier he is than them in a way that doesn't exactly win the award for campaign optics....
The San Diego Union-Tribune broke the story of Romney's California plans this weekend:
Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure....Three years ago, Romney bought the "oceanfront manse in La Jolla" for $12 million. His campaign says the house on the property is too small for Romney's large extended family, and so he's dipping into some of that unfathomable personal fortune to expand it....
Why is tripling the size of one of his houses a potentially brilliant move? Remember where we are in the election cycle. The general election is more than a year away -- we're entering the Republican primaries. Who's going to vote in those primaries? Ayn Rand junkies. How do they feel about rich people? They adore rich people.
Romney is now seriously threatened by Rick Perry -- a guy who comes off like a stinking-rich Texan. Except he's not as stinking rich as Romney is. But I'm not sure that's really come across to Republican voters on a gut level. Now it can.
The only thing that's not brilliant about this is Romney's attempt to keep it from attracting attention:
The campaign told reporters this weekend that work on the project won't begin until after next year's presidential election.
No, Mitt! Start the work now! Show everyone the blueprints! Release an artist's rendering and make the thing look huge! Wait for us liberals to really pounce on you for flaunting your wealth -- then watch the wingnuts rally to your defense!
Yeah, yeah, I know -- John McCain got in trouble last year when he said he couldn't remember how many houses he owned. But that was just before the general election campaign. This is different! No one will remember this in a year! And you need to win over all those Randians now!
It's also different from Romney's campaign-trail claim a couple of months ago that he's "also unemployed." That offends normal people for obvious reasons -- but to wingnuts it probably comes off as a strained attempt at empathy. Wingnuts hate empathy.
Remember who was the first breakout star of the race this year: Donald Trump. Go in that direction, Mitt. Flash the cash. Show some swagger. Winger voters will adore you for it.