Can a Republican Elitist Win?

Mitt Romney’s off-hand revelations about his low tax rate and high speaker fees, combined with his growing list of Clueless Things Only a One-Percenter Could Say, raise a fundamental question: Is it possible for an elitist Republican to win a presidential election? Starting in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon adapted George Wallace’s right-wing populism to Republican purposes, the GOP has won national elections by appealing to blue-collar and middle-class whites as the rhetorical champions of anti-elitism. From Nixon’s dog whistles about “crime” and “forced busing” to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens to George W. Bush’s fake ranch and regular-guy patter, the party of the rich has won the White House by posing as exactly the opposite—the natural home of good ol’ boys and gals. Only one Republican nominee has conveyed a sniffy air of privilege—George Bush I, who beat a hapless Democratic technocrat in 1988 only to be crushed by the one-two punch of plain-speaking Ross Perot and “Putting People First” Bill Clinton the next time around. No wonder Romney’s campaign is giving Maureen Dowd, along with many a worried Republican, “acid flashbacks to Poppy Bush.”


So They Say

“People power will beat money power.”

Newt Gingrich, campaigning in South Carolina


Daily Meme: This Is Rich


  • Romney's tax plan would carve his already low rate in half.
  • By turning his tax returns into an "slow striptease," he's inadvertently making his wealth a bigger issue.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek looks in-depth at Romney's investments, his tax rate, and their toll on his campaign.
  • The debate shouldn't focus on Romney's tax rate, but the relationship between his tax rate and his policies.
  • Gingrich says he paid a 31 percent rate in 2010.
  • Romney's only way out of this hole is to propose a big new tax reform plan, says The Wall Street Journal.
  • Is the timing of his tax-rate disclosure actually a good thing for Romney?


What We're Writing


  • Abby Rapoport previews the battle to come in Wisconsin.
  • Jamelle Bouie marvels at Romney’s lack of likeability.


What We're Reading


  • Obama rejects the Keystone pipeline, blaming Republicans’ “arbitrary deadline.”
  • Romney calls the Keystone decision ”as shocking as it is revealing.”
  • BuzzFeed publishes the McCain campaign’s 200-page opposition-research file on Romney.
  • The Wall Street Journal looks at Gingrich's teaching years—complete with a photo of ‘70s-era Newt.
  • Is Romney really an Eisenhower Republican?


Poll Of The Day


In two new polls, Obama leads Romney in Ohio.